White River’s Claire DiCugno returns for another season on the mat. In this photo from last year’s state meet, she handles an opponent on the way to a second-place finish. File photo by Kevin Hanson

White River’s Claire DiCugno returns for another season on the mat. In this photo from last year’s state meet, she handles an opponent on the way to a second-place finish. File photo by Kevin Hanson

WR preview: bowling and boys, girls wrestling

Last year, girls wrestling took second in state. Will they rise to the top this season?


A successful swarm of Hornets have returned to the mat, looking for continued team and individual success.

The White River boys placed second in the Class 2A state meet a season ago, having taken more wrestlers to the Tacoma Dome than any team in the state. Many of those are back in the fold including returning state champions Nate Belcourt, Gabe Hawthorne and Weston Lyver; all are seniors.

Among the top returning state veterans are senior Ethan Barr; juniors Cyrus Wheeler, Ben Milligan, Andrew Onjang and Klein Carter; and sophomores Brendan McBride, Gage Sabin and Julian Sandoval. Among that group, Wheeler was a sixth-place finisher at last season’s state meet and Milligan was seventh.

The Hornets, under coach Ruben Navejas, kicked off the 2019-20 season by hosting the White River Class on Saturday. Things turn up a notch tonight (Wednesday) when the Hornets host Foss and Fife in South Puget Sound League 2A action. The coming weekend brings a trip south for the Friday/Saturday Rose City Championships in Portland.


The White River girls wrestling program will look to keep the momentum building, coming off a season in which the Rivergirls placed second at the state tournament.

In Washington, girls teams compete in a single field, meaning athletes from the state’s smallest schools take the mat against competitors from the largest programs.

White River had quite a presence at last year’s Mat Classic, most notably in the form of state champion Payton Stroud. She was lost to graduation and the collegiate ranks, but coach Jason Jackson still has plenty of returning talent.

The No. 1 returnee is junior Claire DiCugno who battled her way to the state finals last year and claimed second-place honors.

Other state tourney veterans are Alex Hernandez, a fifth-place finisher last season, and Jalia Williams, who took seventh. Also returning with state experience are sophomores Maria Hawthorne and Allaina Cox.

The White River squad opened the season last weekend by traveling to the Jump On In tournament. The team begins in earnest Thursday night, hosting its only South Puget Sound League meet at 5:30 p.m.


It’s year three for the bowling program at White River High and coach Peggy Jacobsen is working with a mostly-new roster.

The Hornet program is headed by sophomore Morgan Smith. A part of the varsity five a season ago, she advanced to the state tournament. Other returnees from last year are fellow sophomores Madeline Firle and Mallory Whipple. The rest of the squad includes junior Wendy Jo LaTurner; sophomores Hailee Bennett, Isabelle Bucci, Abbey Goetz, Brianna Horner and Lily Phillips; and freshmen Elizabeth Fisher and Kaelyn LaLonde.

The bowling program took a big hit due to graduation, losing Dakota Farrer, Peyton Wallen and Rylee Goetz. Farrer was a two-time qualifier for the state tourney and placed 31st in the large field to conclude her Hornet career.

Bowlers get rolling earlier than other winter sports and the Hornet squad already logged a pair of double-dual competitions. Next, the Hornets challenge Washington and Steilacoom at 3 p.m. tomorrow (Thursday) at Pacific Lanes in Tacoma.

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