Three Columbia High wrestlers recorded top-four finishes last Saturday at the 16th annual Wildcat Invitational Tournament held at La Center High School.
Junior Seth Bell lost to La Center's Elliott Deotsch in the 171-pound championship match, while freshman Kristien Contreras placed second in the 215-pound class and sophomore Ben Ward finished fourth at 189.
"Seth wrestled very well, pinning his first two opponents and taking home second place," noted Bruins Coach Rich Polkinghorn. "He was in control of all his matches but got caught and pinned in the finals."
Contreras also won his first two matches--including a 32-second pin of La Center's Francisco Aguilar--before falling to John Swidecki of Tenino, who placed eighth at last year's Class 1A tournament in Tacoma and currently is ranked fifth among 215-pounders.
"Kristien went on a tear this weekend," Polkinghorn said. "As a freshman wrestling in the upper weights, he did a tremendous job."
Ward lost his final match by fall to Nick Braman of Milwaukie, Ore., and ended the day with a 2-2 mark and two pins.
Columbia wrestlers who won one match were juniors Jon Belvin (130), Kevin Kreps (145) and Chance Miller (160), sophomore Ethan Cranmer (135) and freshman Connor Warner (152).
Milwaukie, which won three of the 14 weight classes, took the 10-team competition with 193 points. Columbia placed ninth with 68 points.
Polkinghorn looked less at that result, however, than he did at individual performances. What he saw last Saturday from his wrestlers was that they are getting better but still have room for improvement.
"It was our first varsity action of the season, and with a group of kids with very little wrestling experience, we got to see a lot of things that we need to improve upon," Polkinghorn observed.
All in all, though, he added, "I was very proud of the way our kids wrestled last weekend. We're excited to keep improving every day, but know we have a lot of work still to do."
The work continues this week in practices leading up to Saturday's Wahkiakum Downriver Challenge in Cathlamet, where wrestling will begin at 9:30 a.m.
Columbia will follow up the tournament with dual meets at Stevenson on Dec. 19 (6 p.m. start) and at Tenino on Dec. 20 (3 p.m. start).