For the first time in its wrestling program's history, Columbia High will be sending two wrestlers to the WIAA Mat Classic in the Tacoma Dome.
Senior Kevin Kreps, wrestling at 145 pounds, captured his first regional title and second-straight state berth, and senior Seth Bell earned his first trip to state with a runner-up finish in the 189-pound weight class at the Region II Class 1A Boys Tournament last Saturday at Castle Rock High School.
Moreover, during the all-classes girls regional tournament last Saturday in Elma, freshman Sarah Gibson became the first female wrestler from CHS to win a match in regional competition. (She finished 1-3 in her first regional meet, two places away from qualifying for state.)
Kreps, who made it to state as a junior at 140 pounds, opened his third regional meet with a second-period pin of Toledo freshman Arnie Yoder in the morning session.
In the semifinal round that afternoon, Kreps squared off against Montesano junior Dillon Ford and scored his second win--this time by minor decision, 6-2.
Kreps followed wins one and two with a 9-0 major decision victory over Castle Rock senior Curtis Eccles in the championship match.
Noted Bruins Coach Stoner Bell: "Kevin had little difficulty in winning his weight class. In the finals, he was able to easily control Eccles this week."
Late tomorrow morning, the first CHS wrestler to qualify state twice will open his state tournament at 11:52 against senior Cody Chiles of Cle Elum-Roslyn, the fifth-place wrestler out of Region III.
Bell, who received a first-round bye at regionals, had to wait until the afternoon session to get on the mat. When he did, he built a 5-0 lead in the first period against Kalama sophomore Nathan Wilfong, then put him down for the count midway through the second period.
In the championship bout against Montesano senior Ira Alefteras, Bell met an opponent who matched up well with him.
After a scoreless first period, Bell took a 1-0 lead in the second with an escape manuever. Alefteras made his own escape in the third period to tie the match a 1-1 and set the stage for a dramatic finish.
"Seth and Ira were fairly evenly matched," Bell noted. "Seth allowed a reversal (not awarded) to Ira with about 40 seconds remaining, which put Seth on his back. The pin quickly followed."
On Friday, Bell will take the mat for his first state match at 12:56 p.m., against junior Jake Thomas of Royal, Region III's third-place wrestler at 189.
Gibson, who competed at 135 pounds, lost her opening-round match at Elma by fall to eventual state qualifier Kelsey Segawa, an Olympia senior who placed fifth at state in 2008.
But Gibson came back in her first consolation bout to make CHS wrestling history by defeating Tumwater junior Veronica Robbins by minor decision, 9-5.
"Sarah is a groundbreaker and history-maker for the Bruins wrestling program," said volunteer coach Rick Freil, who accompanied Gibson to the regional meet in Elma. "She ended up sixth in the region and I can easily see her advancing to the state tournament when she gets some more experience."
Another CHS freshman, Leo Torres, also got his first exposure to regional competition last Saturday. Torres went 0-2 in the 112-pound class, losing to Forks freshman Dayne House by fall in the second period and to Montesano sophomore Jesse Brogan by fall in the third period.
"Leo wrestled really well in his second match," Bell said. "He took the lead, 7-5, early in the third period, but injured himself with the takedown. He took the full amount of injury time and when he came back, he had lost the momentum.
Senior Luis Roque, who qualified for regionals at 140 pounds, was unable to wrestle last Saturday due to a knee injury he sustained in practice on Feb. 11.