A second-place finish by Seth Bell in the 171-pound weight class led the Columbia High wrestling team's showing last Saturday at the 16th annual Wahkiakum Down River Challenge in Cathlamet.
Columbia's other top-seven finishes went to Jon Belvin (4th, 3-2 record, 130), Ethan Cranmer (6th, 2-3, 130 pounds), Max Wulff (6th, 2-3, 215), Kevin Kreps (7th, 3-1, 140), Zac Halpern (7th, 2-1, 125) and Brad Spring (7th, 2-1, 119).
In addition, CHS had four wrestlers who won matches during the daylong tournament but failed to place. They were Connor Warner (152, 1-2), Chance Miller (152, 2-1), Ben Ward (189, 3-1) and Russ Bucher (215, 1-1).
Teamwise, the Bruins tied for 12th place--with host Wahkiakum at 54.5 points--in the field of 16 teams.
Columbia's tournament got off to a sluggish beginning, according to Bruins Coach Rich Polkinghorn--not too surprising since the Bruins left White Salmon, in the snow, at 5 a.m. for a competition that got under way at 9:30.
In the first round, the Bruins managed to win just three matches. Belvin pinned his first opponent, Wulff scored a technical fall, 15-0 win and Bell posted a 6-4 decision.
The results got better for Columbia as the day progressed, however, with both Belvin and Bell advancing to championship semifinals in their weight classes.
Belvin fell in his semifinal matchup while Bell won a 10-6 decision over Connor Reece of Battle Ground to reach the finals.
"Seth had a great overall tournament and is really starting to develop his own style on the mat," Polkinghorn noted. "He is able to impose his will on his opponents and that will start to pay off huge for him. Seth is right on the edge of going from a good wrestler to a great wrestler."
The tournament featured 180 wrestlers from 16 teams and 300 matches...Kalama won the team title, edging the Kelso junior varsity, 155-152.
Columbia High will take part in the Onalaska Holiday Classic on Saturday, Dec. 29. The Bruins will wrestle their first home matches on Thursday, Jan. 3, during a double-dual meet with Stevenson, Kalama and La Center.