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Soler leads Vikings to victory at MatMan Wrestling Tournament

Published on Tue, Jan 15, 2013 by RORY DOUGLAS | CONTRIBUTING WRITER

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Lake Stevens’ Eric Soler, the Viking wrestling team’s lone returning state champion, isn’t used to being a fourth-place seed at tournaments. But that’s just where he found himself at the Central Kitsap MatMan wrestling tournament on Jan. 12, where the 145-pound weight class featured three other state champions in addition to Soler.

In Soler’s semi-final match, he faced North Kitsap’s Jake Velarde, who will be attempting to win his fourth 2A state title this year. Late in the third round, Soler and Velarde were tied 1-1 after trading escape points. With seconds remaining Soler scored a takedown to win 3-1 and advance to the finals, where he would face Graham-Kapowsin’s Ian Steen, another returning state champion.

To add to the pressure, Soler’s finals match would determine which team won the tournament: if he won, the Vikings would win the tournament by a half a point. If he lost, Tahoma would pass the Vikings to win and avenge a dual-meet loss earlier in the season.

Soler defeated Steen 8-4, winning his weight class, securing the team victory, and placing himself as the top-ranked 145-pound wrestler in the state—and he also took home the tournament’s outstanding-wrestler award.

Three other Viking wrestlers won their weight classes. Freshman A.J. Crew at 106 pounds pinned his opponent in the finals, sophomore Cody Vigoren won at 170 by injury default, and senior Brandon Johnson won in overtime at 285 pounds to remain undefeated for the season.

At 120 pounds, freshman Jake Douglas lost his finals match 7-5 after defeating top-ranked 2A wrestler Austin Dodson in the semifinals.

Earlier in the week, Lake Stevens defeated Monroe 72-3 in a Wesco North dual meet to remain undefeated in Washington dual meets this season. The Vikings now continue with weekly dual meets until the district tournament on February 1.