Headed by a pair of state meet veterans, the White River High boys wrestling team have launched themselves into another season of wrestling.
So far, coach Joe Klein likes what he sees.
“We are young but the kids are working hard,” Klein said in an emailed report. “We haven’t had a group this focused and dedicated in many years. Our goal is to improve every day and make some noise when it counts.”
Aside from experienced wrestlers, Klein has a batch of newcomers that, he says, should create some excitement.
White River is coming off a season in which the team placed third at subregionals and advanced a dozen wrestlers to regional competition, eventually sending four to state.
Graduation meant the loss of regional champion Mason Hamilton and third-place Garret Severson. Each managed a victory at the state meet before being eliminated.
The two returning Hornets with the strongest resumés are sophomores Cooper Franklin and Ryan Redford, both veterans of last season’s Class 2A state meet. At Mat Classic, Franklin won a pair of matches to claim eighth-place honors while Redford dropped his first two matches in the Tacoma Dome.
This year’s squad boasts five seniors: Dylan Kohler, Bailey Kuykendall and Case Ford return with regional experience. Klein also is looking forward to strong contributions from Juan Ortiz and Tyler Ericson.
The junior class is led by returning starter Cole Tucker, who was a regional participant. Other juniors include Matt Ayala, Dalton Trujillo, Zac Furman, Beau Sentinella and Hunter Williams.
The Hornets’ sophomore contingent is headed by Franklin, projected to compete at 120 pounds, and Redford, who figures to be at 132 or 138. Other sophomores on the squad include Tyler Phillips, Dalton Duncan, Cody Brown and Quinton Lyver.
As for the team’s youngest wrestlers, Klein has high hopes. “I wouldn’t be surprised if every one of our freshman gets varsity experience this year,” he reported.
Leading the frosh group are Max Wheeler, Nathan Moore and Jack Ervian. Other freshman include Dylan Ellefson, Lyle Milligan, Brandon Ortiz, Brandon Cox, Carsten Riley, Dawson Duncan, Jonathan McBride, Chaise Weingard, Timothy Fairbanks-Clouser, Cannon Close and Jayson Jorgensen.
White River coach Rich Valdez has welcomed back three girls from a team that placed seventh at last season’s state meet.
Unlike the boys, girls from throughout the state of Washington combine for a season-ending state meet that includes grapplers from all divisions – from the largest Class 4A programs to the smallest B schools.
At last season’s Mat Classic in the Tacoma Dome, White River took five girls and totaled 67 points, finishing behind state champion Grandview, Mount Baker, Todd Beamer, Centralia, Sunnyside and Puyallup.
The two big departures from that squad, both lost to graduation, were Hannah Lewandowski and Kendra Blue. Lewandowski was the state champion at 190 pounds while Blue brought home fourth-place honors at 130.
Three state veterans return to lead the Hornet program: junior Erin Redford competed last year at 125 pounds, placing third at both the regional and state meets; Jacey Lindner, now a junior, wrestled at 190 pounds last year, finishing fourth at regionals and going on the win one of three matches at state; and sophomore Tatiana Molinero wrestled at 145 pounds last year, claiming fifth place at regionals before dropping her first two matches at state.
Others on this year’s Hornet roster include seniors Madison Altamirano, Darien Barbee, Victoria Burton, Maria Dimas, Tabitha Freymuth and Brianne Wiens; juniors Cassandra Altamirano and Francisca Smith; sophomores Madeline Emerson and Rebekah Lockemy; and freshman Payton Stroud.