Payback! Lake Stevens wrestlers take down SnohomishBY ANDREW KUNAS | CONTRIBUTING WRITER A year ago, Snohomish did what no wrestling team in the Western Conference had been able to do for 15 years. They beat the Lake Stevens Vikings in a league dual meet. Friday night, Lake Stevens returned the favor and showed everyone who was still top dog, taking down Snohomish 50-21.
While the Vikings still went on to win their fifth state title in nine years last season,, that one dual meet loss to Snohomish still stung to many. Friday night, despite the flooding that affected much of Snohomish, the No. 3 Panthers welcomed No. 1 Lake Stevens into their gymnasium for one of the anticipated duals of the year in Washington.
Snohomish had a large crowd on hand, hoping to see a repeat of last year, and as always they were intense, short of being hostile. The Vikings also had a lot of people follow them down Hwy. 9. With all those people inside the building, the atmosphere was electric.
Things didn’t look good for the Vikings early. After Jack Stilwell pinned Deylen Machado to give the Vikings a quick 6-0 lead, Snohomish owned the next three matches and they led 15-6. After that, Lake Stevens won four straight matches and received a forfeit to go up 30-15. Snohomish didn’t recover after that, winning just one more match, but the setting was still tense until the end.
“(Snohomish) did a good job, and coach (Rob) Zabel is a good coach,” said Lake Stevens coach Brent Barnes, about the victory and his Snohomish counterpart. “It was fun to have a big crowd (in Snohomish), come in here and compete hard, (and) it was nice to know the outcome wasn’t pre-determined. We didn’t know what was to happen.”
The Vikings were also down early against Snohomish last year, but this time Lake Stevens reacted differently according to Barnes.
“Our guys talked about it before hand, about keeping the energy up, no matter what the score is,” Barnes said. “Last year when they were down they kinda sat on their hands and didn’t respond. Tonight they kept the energy up.”
Perhaps the hardest fought match of the evening was a redemption match for junior Justin Grow, as he faced off in the 189 pound bout with the same Snohomish wrestler who pinned him last year, senior Spencer Caraballo. Grow won a tough 6-5 decision over Caraballo and both wrestlers earned an ovation from both sides.
Grow led 2-1 after the opening period and chose to be in the down position to open the second period. Grow was awarded a point after Caraballo made an illegal move and then got another point with an escape to lead 4-1 going into the third and final period.
Starting the final period, Caraballo started in the down position but made a reversal and got two points to close Grow’s lead to 4-3. When both young men went out of bounds, Caraballo elected to let Grow escape and then attempt to take down Grow, which he happened to do and tie the match at 5-5 and get the Snohomish crowd on its feet with a minute left.
With only 44 seconds left, the Lake Stevens crowd roared as Grow pried himself free from Caraballo for the decisive escape point. Even with Snohomish coaches and fans urging him on, Caraballo was unable to take Grow down again and Grow had his hand raised in victory.
“We had some huge wins tonight,” Barnes said. “Grow at 189. Last year, (Caraballo) pinned him. It was a huge win for him. Caraballo is a tough kid.”
After the decision at 140 pounds went in favor of Snohomish’s Luke Perry to put the Panthers up 15-6. Junior Jacob Anderson started Lake Stevens’ run when he pinned Cameron Kuehn in 2:26 at 145 pounds. Senior George King accepted a forfeit at 152 pounds that put the Vikings up 18-15.
Lake Stevens senior Jake Welch and Snohomish’s Micah Morrill went the distance in the 160-pound bout that saw an eventful third period. Welch led 3-1 after two periods, then Morrill earned a pair of points to tie it at 3-3. Welch got a takedown and later another to go up 7-4. Morrill made it interesting in the end as he made a reversal to pull within 7-6 as time was running out. Welch won the decision for Lake Stevens by managing to stay out of a pinfall situation and prevent Morrill from getting any near fall points.
Morrill’s younger brother Mark had his hands full in the 171-pound match with Lake Stevens senior Blake LeHuquet. After a scoreless first period, the rest of the match was a good one that saw four reversals and a near fall. In the first moments of the third period, Morrill got a near fall to tie the match at 4-4. Shortly after that, LeHuquet suddenly pulled off a reversal and pinned Morrill.
In the heavyweight class, senior Zach Teuber won an 11-3 decision over Mike Maybin at 285 pounds to put the Vikings up 34-21. At 103 pounds, Lake Stevens sophomore Ryan Rodorigo won a 14-1 decision over Sonny Bates-Mundell. Snohomish forfeited the 112-pound bout. The final match of the evening featured a pair of 119-pound juniors in Lake Stevens’ Josh Heinzer against Snohomish’s Eric Kalmey. Heinzer pinned Kalmey in 4:13 to close things.
With Snohomish forfeiting twice, the 12 contested matches saw the Vikings score four pins and Snohomish three. Lake Stevens took four decisions and Snohomish had only one.
“This was a good stepping stone, but this is not the end-all,” Barnes cautiously said, making clear more work needs to be done before next month’s tournaments. “We have to keep working and getting better. Hopefully (the win) will be a good motivator.”
Though it was a pinfall loss for the Vikings, freshman Steven Walkley was in another very exciting contest against Snohomish senior star Sam Ottow at 130 pounds. Ottow, a runner-up at state the last two years and considered a top contender again, quickly took down Walkley and within 30 seconds. Walkley found himself on his back in a pin situation. The freshman, however, wowed both sides of the gym as for nearly 90 seconds he flat out refused to let Ottow pin both of his shoulders on the mat.
The buzzer sounded on the first period and Walkley received a loud ovation from the Lake Stevens faithful while Snohomish fans were stunned with their star not being able to pin the freshman in all that time he had him on his back.
In the second period, Ottow again took down Walkley and went for the pin. Snohomish fans were clearly getting agitated as again Walkley refused to let Ottow pin him so easily. Walkley again went more than a minute with one shoulder on the ground but not both. He very nearly survived to see a third period, but the tired Walkley was spent and with just one tick left on the clock Ottow finally pinned him after two and a half minutes of frustration.
The Vikings have another WesCo North dual on Thursday night, when they wrestle the Eagles in Arlington at 7:00. For pictures from this match as well as the rest of the season, visit www.jedicheetah.com