With two returning champs, Hornets shoot for another title

The buzz in high school wrestling circles involves whether perennial power Enumclaw High will repeat as Class 3A state champions.

Enumclaw’s Jason Gray won the Class 3A state 125-pound title in February.

The buzz in high school wrestling circles involves whether perennial power Enumclaw High will repeat as Class 3A state champions.

The Hornets are saying, “we’re back.”

Coach Lee Reichert said the Hornets are building on last year’s state title.

“We’ve got great potential,” Reichert said. “The kids that had been wrestling with us all year saw we were capable of winning a state tournament and they want to come back and do it again.

“This team is very capable,” he said. “It’s not where we start, it’s where we finish. We’re looking forward to the challenge.”

As No. 1, the Hornets know every team in the state will be gunning for them both now and at the end of the season – but they’re loaded and taking aim themselves.

It won’t hurt that the Hornets return a veteran in nearly every weight class and leading the charge will be returning state champions Sam Bauer and Jason Gray.

The seniors pulled out big title-round wins last season to give the Hornets’ the boost they needed to edge Yelm. Both are listed among Washington Wrestling Report’s top 20 seniors to watch this season. The Hornets’ third champion, Joey Pierotti, graduated.

After a runner-up finish in 2007, Bauer, a Cadet wrestling all-American who recently won the University of Wyoming’s Open Amateur Division’s 125-pound weight class, cruised to the 2008 119-pound crown. Gray, a fourth-place state finisher in 2007, won the 125-pound title by upsetting defending state title winner Matt Sencebaugh.

Both are joined by a who’s who of state place winners and participants from EHS’s 2008 championship team, starting with sixth-place state finisher Wayne Horton and eighth-place finisher Conner Elder. Also back are sophomores Marcus Nichols and Kario Wallin, junior Kyle Young and senior Tyler Rewoldt, who all made the trip to state.

Also looking to claim a spot in the Hornet lineup are Josh Musick, Jacob Jokela, Joey VanWinkle, Mike Staples and Brad McCutchen. The later was a match away from the state tournament.

Enumclaw won its 2008 title with a surge in the championship round that gave them a five-point advantage over Yelm. Seven of the eight SPSL 3A teams finished among the state’s top 20, but some of those teams, like Auburn and Auburn Riverside, have stepped up to 4A. And the SPSL 3A has added Lakes, Peninsula and Clover Park and will toss in Western Cascade Conference opponents like Yelm, Capital, Timberline and North Thurston. White River, Sumner, Capital, North Thurston, Bonney Lake, Auburn Mountainview and Lakes all finished among the top 21 teams at state.

“The quality of wrestling out here is excellent,” Reichert said. “There will be great battles out of the league and I wouldn’t look past anyone.”

The Hornets kick off the season at 5 tonight, Wednesday, as they host a jamboree and then head to Buckley for the White River Classic Saturday, where they will go head-to-head with some of the toughest teams in their league and the state like Yelm and Sunnyside. The Hornets start league play Dec. 10 at Lakes.

Reach Brenda Sexton at bsexton@courierherald.com or 360-802-8206.

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