Lewandowski, Armstrong top White River wrestlers return | Preview

The White River High wrestling program has headed into the winter season with a healthy dose of returning grapplers on both the boys and girls side of the ledger.

The teams kicked things off Saturday, with the boys hosting the annual White River Classic while the girls headed to an invitational at Emerald Ridge High.

White River girls

The top returnees are found among the ranks of the Hornet girls.

Heading the list is senior standout Hannah Lewandowski. All she did during her junior campaign was win regionals and then pin three state foes at the Class 2A state tournament. She came up short in the state finals, but brought home second-place honors.

She’s not the only Hornet girl with state-tourney experience. Also returning this year are sophomore Erin Redford and senior Kendra Blue; each won a state match last year before being eliminated.

That trio helped White River to a strong regional showing last year. The team placed fourth, trailing only the Class 3A Lakes Lancers and 4A teams from Puyallup and Emerald Ridge.

Aside from the state-tested veterans, “we have an aggressive group of first-year wrestlers that are excited to hit the mats,” coach Rich Valdez said, noting that he has 18 grapplers turning out.

“Look for us take some noise in the Tacoma Dome in February,” he said, showing confidence in his squad.

White River boys

The White River boys are paced by state veteran Alex Armstrong. Last year, as a freshman, Armstrong qualified for the Class 2A state tourney, where he won a match.

This year’s squad also boasts a handful of Hornets who made strong showings at last season’s regional tournament. Among those are seniors Mason Hamilton and Erik Ball; juniors William Brown, Dylan Kohler and Case Ford; and sophomore John Ayala.

Beyond that, “Our numbers are down a bit and we’re pretty young,” coach Joe Klein said.

Hamilton shared third-place honors at the weekend White River Classic.