SPSL NORTH: Wrestling at a glance
December 18, 2008 · Updated 10:31 PM
WRESTLING: AT A GLANCE
• Favorites: Kentwood, Tahoma.
• Contender: Auburn.
• Sleepers: Kentlake, Auburn Riverside.
• League outlook: The last two seasons have been a grind between Kentwood and Tahoma with the Conquerors taking the league crown each year. The Conquerors haven’t lost a league dual since Jan. 11, 2006 (34-28 to Auburn Riverside), but will be hard pressed to hold off a deep Tahoma team this winter especially considering the Conks graduated six of their 13 state qualifiers from a year ago. However, unlike the previous two seasons, the division title hardly will be decided between just Kentwood and Tahoma as Auburn has jumped back into the SPSL North equation. The Trojans took second in the SPSL 3A a year ago (and third at state) to perennial power Enumclaw and will give the Bears and Conks a stiff challenge. Meanwhile, Auburn Riverside also will be shifting back into the 4A gear, but isn’t likely to have the depth to challenge the league heavyweights. Kentlake returns two wrestlers who qualified for state a year ago and should surprise as will Kent-Meridian, which has made steady progress in each of the last two years.
• Returning state placers (last year’s finish and previous weight class): Ruben Navejas, Kentwood (5th/103); Derek Lipp, Kentwood (5th/112); Cody Quinn, Kentwood (4th/135); Jesus Valdez, Kent-Meridian (8th/103); Tyler Lamb, Tahoma (5th/125); Nick Bayer, Tahoma (1st/160); Kelly Maughan, Auburn (6th/119); Jake Swartz, Auburn (1st/171); Ivan Mukomol, Thomas Jefferson (8th/119).
CIRCLE ON THE CALENDAR
Dec. 19-20, Tri-State: Many wrestlers consider this the biggest tournament of the year. Top grapplers from around the Northwest compete. Auburn, Auburn Mountainview, Kentlake and Tahoma will be competing.
Jan. 2-3, Pac Coast: Tournament at Hudson’s Bay High in Vancouver is nearly as big as Tri-State. Kentwood, Tahoma and Auburn will be in competition.
Jan. 14: Kentwood at Tahoma — If the last two years are any indication, this could decide the North crown.
Jan. 22: Kentlake at Kentwood — Dubbed “Cov-town Throwdown,” roughly a dozen state qualifiers should be in competition.
Feb. 20-21: State tournament, Tacoma Dome: The best way to explain the state tournament for those who have not been there is controlled chaos. Definitely worth the price of admission.
• Notable: Jason DelaRosa is taking over for Kyle Patrick at Kentridge this season. DelaRosa will be the school’s third wrestling coach in as many years and brings back a young team. Senior Max Saurwein (119) figures to be the team’s top wrestler. ... The North returns two state champions — Tahoma junior Nick Bayer (160 last year) and Auburn senior Jake Swartz (171). Barring a severe weight loss by Swartz or a giant weight gain by Bayer, the two standouts aren’t likely to compete against one another this year. Swartz, a heavy favorite to win the 189-pound title, could become the school’s first-ever three-time champion. In addition, he enters the season with 112 career wins, 22 behind former star Shane Onufer (134), who holds the school record and who now is competing at the University of Wyoming. Also at Wyoming is Auburn Riverside two-time state champ Eric Jones. ... Michael Mangrum, a three-time state champ from Auburn Riverside, is now wrestling at Oregon State University. ... Kentwood’s Cody Quinn (4th at 135 last year) will try and become the school’s first four-time state placer. ... Former KW star Brandon Rogers and K-M standout Aaron Smith are now competing at Highline. ... Auburn has placed among the top 10 in the team race at state in each of the last seven years. ... Kentwood (7th with 88 points) and Tahoma (9th with 61 points) were the only two SPSL North teams last year to finish among the top 10 at state. ... Tahoma’s Kevin Tao, a 2007 state champ, now is competing at Columbia University. ... The North is a bit lean as far as female wrestlers are concerned. Regardless, Kentwood’s Antonia Navejas and Jolene Crook-Meyers are among the state’s elite. Both took second at last year’s state tournament — the second time girls have had their own tourney — and will be favorites come February.
• Bookmark on the web: www.washingtonwrestlingreport.com. There isn’t a prep sport around that has a better, more thorough Web site. Wrestling enthusiasts receive rankings for every weight class and school classification in the state. In addition, results of tournaments from around the state — and, in many cases, around the Northwest — can be found on the site as well.
— Erick Walker/The Reporter