In this edition of “Weighing In,” we’ll look at Renton’s attempt to return to the top of Seamount League wrestling with a win Thursday at Hazen. The Indians can win their first Seamount title outright since 1991 with a victory.
Also, we’ll take a look at Marquee matches upcoming, Top targets, Big performances and links to state rankings individually and team.
It’s not often the Renton High School wrestling team is in this position.
The Indians are one win away from securing the school’s first Seamount League title since it captured the 1991 crown.
That title came just one year before current coach Keith Eager, a 1983 graduate of Renton, began his 22-year tenure as head coach, following three seasons as an assistant coach.
When Hazen hosts Renton on Thursday in a 7 p.m. dual match to decide the Seamount League title, a triumph will give the Indians their first crown in 22 years. It would mean bookend-titles for Eager if his team can pull it off.
“We’ve been close, we’ve been second quite a few times,” said Eager, who wrestled at Pacific Lutheran University after his Indians’ career. “We haven’t succeeded yet, but hopefully we do.”
The Indians (6-0) enter the showdown with Hazen (5-1) one match ahead of the Highlanders in the standings with a chance to lock up sole possession of the league title in the regular-season finale.
Hazen’s lone loss was a 39-37 decision to Highline to open the Seamount schedule on Dec. 6. Renton beat Highline 44-27 on Dec. 20.
The challenge at Renton has been getting consistent numbers to turn out for wrestling each winter.
“It’s been hard to succeed, because it’s an inner-city school and it’s more of a basketball school,” Eager said. “It would say the program has been up and down. When I first started coaching, I wasn’t in the building, but I started teaching in the building, it helped turnout.
“It’s not a big wrestling school, and it’s tough to recruit there.”
This year’s Indians are led in winning percentage by junior captain Abraham Cuevas (138), senior captain Emmanuel Martinez (145) and senior Alexander Kalinin (170).
Cuevas is 23-8 this season, Martinez 15-5 and Kalinin 11-3.
Kalinin, who is the Indians’ lone returning state qualifier, returned last week after missing five weeks with an injured hand.
Eager insists the rise back to prominence in the Seamount has more to do with the work Renton assistants Jimmy Andrews and Mark Robuck and former assistant Kerry Doss have done with teaching and recruiting.
“I was able to put people in places to help the program,” Eager said. “I hired a couple of new assistants, an PE teacher I had at Renton, and that’s Jimmy Andrews. He recruited a lot of the kids we have out.”
Robuck teaches and coaches at Dimmitt Middle School. Doss works with Reality Sports, a Christian-based organization, for offseason freestyle workouts in the fall and spring at Renton. The program is donation-based, helping those less fortunate take part and gain valuable experience and coaching without a high cost.
“Robuck has done a really nice job at Dimmitt, and got some kids in here,” Eager said. “We’re getting better kids from the junior high, because of him. The program Kerry runs allows kids to come wrestle and it doesn’t cost them any money. Those three guys really helped the program.”
Eager’s lineup took a hit because of injury over the weekend and their school district rival, Hazen, typically brings its best against Renton. Expect a big challenge from the Highlanders on Thursday.
“I have some concerns, because [Hazen] usually wrestles really well against us,” he said. “And, we had a little injury this weekend at the tournament, so we’re going to change our lineup around a little bit.
“We’re scrambling to try and fill a spot of someone who got injured. It’s part of the game.”
The chance at a league championship banner for the gymnasium wall is incentive.
“We’ve been in this position before, and it would be nice for them to have this success and build on it for the future,” Eager said. “I’ve put in a little time at that place. Maybe, I’m just stubborn.
“It’s my alma mater and Gerald George was my coach and he did a lot for me. I wanted to give back to the school and program, so I’ve stuck in there a lot of years.”
Hazen last won the Seamount regular-season title in 2011 and that was its first crown since 2002.
Fourth-year head coach Rory Magana should send out a formidable lineup against Renton on Thursday in front of the home crowd.
“Right now our lineup is a little better, and we have guys at the right weights,” Magana said. “The last couple years we’ve been able to beat Renton when it counts. We don’t have the same lineup we did a year or two years ago, and we’re actually a lot younger but the kids are tougher.
“They are not as experienced, but we’re starting to build that culture at Hazen.”
The Highlanders comes off a season in which they sent eight wrestlers to state.
Currently, Hazen’s current top wrestlers are juniors Zach Moore (120), a state qualifier in 2012, Malik Haythorne (145), who likely will face Martinez, and Josh Kluth (152).
“The 145-pound match should be a tough one,” Magana said. “Malik actually beat Martinez last week. Renton’s pretty shifty with their lineup, so we’ll see.”
Hazen’s 126-pound sophomore Derek Nichols qualified for state last season at 106 in 3A and 152-pound junior Josh Kluth made it to state two seasons ago at 103.
Moore, just in his second year of wrestling, owns a 22-7 record and Haythorne brings in a 23-10 mark. Moore just finished 3-0 at the Washington Dream Duals on Saturday at East Valley High School in Spokane.
Washington Dream Duals at East Valley of Spokane
Enumclaw made it to the final match in Class 3A only to fall to University of Spokane 45-18 on Saturday in the Washington Dream Duals at East Valley High School in Spokane.
The final match pitted the top two teams in the 3A state rankings done by www.washingtonwrestlingreport.net with No. 1 University and No. 2 Enumclaw. Hazen was sixth in 3A at the Dream Duals.
In 4A, Mead won a pair of divisions and Moses Lake, Chiawana and Eastmont (Wenatchee) were also division winners in 4A.
Garrett Jarosz (120), Tyke Reid (132) and Jerad Paul (126) of Enumclaw each registered a pair of pins in impressive fashion. Jarosz’s two falls totaled 2 minutes, 3 seconds combined while Reid’s added up to 2:17 combined. Paul’s two pins took 2:48.
… Tahoma, the defending Class 4A state champion and ranked No. 1 to open the season and No. 2 currently, hits the road to Enumclaw for the 11th “Battle of the Bone” on Saturday, Jan. 26.
… Not far off in the future, a run of subregional wrestling events commence on Friday, Feb. 1 and then regionals on Saturday, Feb. 9.
The Class 4A subregional tournament for District 1 (WesCo 4A) takes place at Snohomish High School on Feb. 1-2.
The 3A subregional for schools from WesCo 3A North is scheduled for Feb. 1-2 at Stanwood High School. The 3A subregional for schools from WesCo 3A South will take place Feb. 1-2 at Glacier Peak High School.
Top targets & Big performances
… Decatur, ranked No. 3 in 3A, won the boys team title at the Jaguar Invitational on Saturday at Emerald Ridge High School. The Gators piled up 230.5 points to outdistance Kentwood’s 203.5 points.
White River took third with 173 points.
Kelso took the girls title with 140 points to Washougal’s 132.
… Oak Harbor and Glacier Peak gave WesCo 3A a 1-2 finish at the Lynden Invitational on Saturday. Oak Harbor finished with 207 points to Glacier Peak’s 182 and Wildcats claimed victory thanks to two individual champions and a record of 35-14 with 21 pins, two technical falls and two major decisions.
Meadowdale was fourth with 124.5, finishing behind Mount Baker (154).
… Lake Stevens, ranked No. 1 in the current 4A poll by www.washingtonwrestlingreport.net, captured its own Cavelero Colt Classic on Saturday with 214 points to Kentridge’s 201.5.
Next was Snohomish (149), Kamiak (111), Bellevue (110) and Graham-Kapowsin (97.5) in the team standings.
The Vikings went 36-14 in matches with 21 pins and three major decisions. They had three individual champions with Tyler Headland (106), Jack Lablanc (152) and Kehla Grow (155 girls).
… There are at least three wrestlers locally with unbeaten records to this point, according to http://www.nwcaonline.com.
Everett senior Jessie Lopez (138) and Kentlake sophomore Nicholas Smith (106) are both 25-0 so far in the 2012-13 season. Lake Stevens senior Brandon Johnson (285) and Mead of Spokane junior Chandler Rogers (170) are both 23-0.
Rogers, seeking his third state title this season, won a state title at 160 pounds in 4A last season as a sophomore and he took the 145 class in 4A as a freshman. Rogers, who went 46-0 last season, is ranked No. 1 at 170 for all classifications by www.washingtonwrestlingreport.net.
Two of the state’s biggest winners are North Central of Spokane sophomore Izaec Quintanilla (152) at 31-1 and Southridge senior Kevin Del Angel (195) at 29-1.
Class 4A & 3A, 2A, 1A, B & girls
All-Class individual rankings
Here are three valuable wrestling resources on the web:
Searchable database for results
Team and individual rankings
When there’s top performance or noteworthy event in high-school wrestling, please feel to send it to email@example.com and to the attention of Matt Massey.