Tulalip wrestlers put on a show at Novice Championship

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

Of the many sports children can participate in, wrestling is perhaps the most misrepresented, misunderstood, and underrated. Each year hundreds of thousands of kids participate in this non-violent combat sport, yet the average person knows as much about wrestling as they might know about rugby or polo.

“Wrestling is perhaps the purest form of athletic competition to exist in the realm of organized sports,” explained Young Champions President Bill Campbell. “There are no bats or balls, or pucks or sticks. No pads or helmets or jerseys. There’s no time to rethink strategy, regroup, or even to catch your breath. There’s only you, and your opponent of equal weight and size. Experience, preparation and the will to succeed will determine the victor. There’s no doubt about it, wrestling tops the list of intense, highly competitive sports.”

Put that way, it’s no wonder why there is a multi-generational connection of Tulalip athletes who are coming up in the sport and finding serious athletic achievement and personal growth, on and off the mat. Coached by Tulalip tribal members and former wrestling standouts, Sam Davis and Tony Hatch, the Marysville Tomahawks wrestling program has amassed quite the youth following. They have wrestlers of all ages, skill level, and quite a few girls who prove wrestling isn’t just for the boys.

There are additional youth tribal members who are making quite the name for themselves while wrestling under the Punisher wrestling banner, located in Arlington. Regardless of team camp, the aspiring athletes are learning invaluable lessons such as self-discipline, hard work, skill building, and an inner strength that’s only developed over countless hours of practice. Plus, there are many social skills and benefits that come naturally for athletes who learn what it means at an early age to be part of a team. 

“To us, Marysville Tomahawk wrestling is our family,” shared Katie Lancaster-Jones, mother of two Tulalip wrestlers, Milo and Cole. “We started seven years ago when Milo was six-years-old and Cole was only four. They started with Tony Hatch and his family. Now, we work with coaches Sam Davis and Brandon Davis. From the coaches, athletes and families we are all here to help the youth move forward in life, not just the sport. 

“We motivate our wrestlers to keep their grades up, respect one another, and to stay healthy by being active,” continued Katie. “The team is here to teach and to learn from. Wrestling is a life style. There’s a lot of coordinating, planning, and fundraising that requires commitment by our athletes and their families. The team gives them a place to go; gives them goals to work toward. It’s all about our future generations learning how to handle tough moments on and off the mats.”

A large group of local wrestlers were invited to participate in the WWKWL 2019 Novice Championship, which took place on January 27 at Kirkland Middle School. The novice designation means only wrestlers within their first two years of competition. 

In front of family, friends, and hundreds of onlookers, the novice wrestlers competed in an all-day, round-robin style tournament. Win or lose, the collection of wrestlers demonstrated strong grappling maneuvers and a variety of defensive techniques. Several of the kids’ wrestling prowess stood-out even in a gym where eight matches were going on at any given time. 

One such wrestler was 8-year-old Julie Blevins. Representing Tomahawk wrestling, Julie’s limber frame and quickness caught spectator attention as she went heads-up with the boys. She held her own in every match, not allowing herself to be pinned nor giving up any points easy to her male counterparts, and came away victorious in the hearts of her adoring fans.

“She found wrestling naturally because her dad (Jason) wrestled for coaches Sam and Tony back in his wrestling days. Now, he coaches for the Tomahawks program,” said Julie’s mom, Victoria Blevins. “It’s been so awesome watching Julie grow as an athlete. When she first started she was really scared and tentative, but now she pushes through even if she gets hurt or competes against boys tougher than her. Going up against the boys, Julie relies on technique more and that’s given her opportunities to learn some go-to moves. Her confidence has soared since she has learned she’s capable of picking up her opponent and slamming them for a pin.”

Wrestling, like any sport, has its share of phenoms; those that make excellence look like ease. Five-year-old, Tulalip tribal member Julian Lawrence is such a phenom. This year alone he has accomplished quite a bit, taking 1st place in several tournaments held in Spokane and Oregon. In fact, the day before the Novice Championship, Julian competed in another tournament and entered in two separate brackets. He dominated both and took home two 1st place medals for his efforts.

The dazzling five-year-old put on a show in front of community members who couldn’t help but gravitate to whatever mat he was competing on. Pin after pin, Julian overpowered his opponents en route to being crowned a novice champion and earning yet another 1st place medal.

“As parents, we couldn’t be any more proud of our son. Watching him grow stronger, faster and smarter…pushing himself to be the best that he can be…he has so much passion and heart for the sport,” beamed his mother Honeykwa Lawrence. “We are very proud of his sportsmanship, win or lose. Julian has grown into a polite, respectful little boy on and off the mat.

“He has grown so much within these past few months since joining team Punisher. He is constantly learning new things and he soaks it all up like a sponge,” continued Honeykwa. “After this tournament, Julian’s record is currently 50-4, so 50 wins and only 4 losses. We are looking forward to State coming up next weekend. We have high hopes for him and think he will take State title!”

Out of the local Tulalip/Marysville competitors, quite a few wrestled into a high placing or earned a 1st place medal at the Novice Championship. Julian Lawrence, Donte Luong and Conner Juvinel all took home top honors for their brackets. Karter Wright took 2nd place, Troy Blevins took 3rd, and his brother Jason Blevins took 4th. 

For any parents who are interested in getting their kids participating in youth wrestling, feel free to connect with Marysville Tomahawk Wrestling through their Facebook page or email Marysvilletomahawkwrestling@gmail.com

Tulalip Wrestlers take 2nd and 3rd at State Championship

Killian Page pins his opponent in his second match, continuing on undefeated until the final match, placing second.

Killian Page pins his opponent in his second match, continuing on undefeated until the final match, placing second.  Andrew Gobin/Tulalip News

By Andrew Gobin, Tulalip News

Four wrestlers on the Marysville Pilchuck High School wrestling team that went to state are from Tulalip. Drew Hatch, Killian Page, Keith Pablo, and Austin Brown all did exceptionally well in getting to the state championship, with Page taking 2nd place in his weight class, and Hatch taking 3rd place in his.

Drew Hatch lunges, shooting the hips, knocking his opponent off balance. He placed third in state.

Drew Hatch lunges, shooting the hips, knocking his opponent off balance. He placed third in state.  Andrew Gobin/Tulalip News

Juniors Drew Hatch and Killian Page had an excellent season on the way to state. Undefeated, Hatch ranked second in his weight class going into the championships. Even though he was fighting a fever, he stepped on the mats, losing his second match, coming back winning 5 straight matches and taking third for the 170 weight class. Page went to state undefeated as well. Taking time to warm up and get focused, he was a force in the 160 weight class, remaining in the championship bracket until the final match, placing second after he lost the final match to the last year’s returning champion

Keith Pablo starts his second match. He had many reversals and finished strong as a freshman at the state championships.

Keith Pablo starts his second match. He had many reversals and finished strong as a freshman at the state championships.  Andrew Gobin/Tulalip News

Freshmen Keith Pablo and Austin Brown made it to state their first year on the team. Although Pablo lost his first two matches and was not able to continue, he took each match right to the end of the time limits, refusing to be pinned.

Austin Brown Flips his opponent twice in the second match. He went on to take first in Folk Style for the Marysville Club Wrestling team.

Austin Brown Flips his opponent twice in the second match. He went on to take first in Folk Style for the Marysville Club Wrestling team.  Andrew Gobin/Tulalip News

Brown had a rough season, according to his coaches. What brought him to state was his spectacular performance in districts and regionals. In his final match, although he lost, Brown flipped his opponent twice like it was nothing. He went on to the State Championship for the Marysville club team, taking first in Folk Style wrestling.

Tomahawk wrestlers compete at Mat Classic XXV

Drew Hatch (right) won a fourth place medal.

Drew Hatch (right) won a fourth place medal.

By Roy Pablo, Tulalip See-Yaht-Sub guest writer

The Mat Classic High School State Wrestling Championship celebrated it’s 25th year at the Tacoma Dome, February 15-16. The top wrestlers from each region in Washington at every weight class came to battle it out for the elite title of State Champion. For a high school wrestler there is no greater goal than making it to the Dome, and most can only hope to be there by their senior year.  Beyond high school every serious wrestlers dream is the Olympics.  As you can imagine the topic of conversation this weekend centered on the IOC’s suggestion to remove wrestling from

the Olympics, which will be voted on by 2014.  “It’s a tough blow,” said Marysville Pilchuck head coach Craig Iversen. “Our sport is very successful. We’re filling up the Tacoma Dome, and for the top level to not be recognized would very damaging to this sport. But for now, kids are excited to be here and we are focusing on today.”

Marysville Pilchuck had six competitors make it to state this year.  For sophomores Ryan Daurie at 126 lbs., Killian Page at 145 lbs. and Drew Hatch at 160 lbs. this was their second time at the Mat Classic. As freshman Drew and Killian both took 6th place and Ryan attended as an alternate. Marysville Pilchuck is one of the few schools to have under classmen make it to the dome in the higher weight classes, much less place.  Seniors Jory Cooper at 285 lbs., Ignat Gabov at 220 lbs., and Ishmael Perez at 195 lbs., fought through both district and regional qualifying tournaments to represent the Tomahawks for their first time. The Tomahawk wrestlers are led by Craig Iversen, who was named “Coach of the Year” in 2012, Tony Hatch, “Assistant Coach of the Year” for 2013, Tony Delpozo, and John Hodgins.

Killian Page took 2nd place.

Killian Page took 2nd place.

The two-day tournament was long and exhausting.  After day one, Marysville only had three wrestlers left in the folkstyle tournament, Ignat Gabov , Drew Hatch and Killian Page.  The other three had been eliminated after suffering two losses. Killian, ranked number six, was up first in a semi final match that would determine whether he would wrestle for the championship or be bumped into the losers bracket to fight for third place. His opponent was the number three-ranked senior Dylan Schmidt from Shadle Park.  (Rankings are established through last years placing, wins, losses and number of tournaments wrestled).  It was a battle match that lasted over 12 minutes with injury and stoppage time.  The score was tied almost the entire match in the final 10 seconds Killian rallied with a 2 point take down to end the match and put him in the finals.  Although he lost his finals match to senior John Hoover from (Mt. Spokane) Killian was still so excited to be there.  “I am okay with second” Killian said. “That guy was a beast and a cool kid he deserved it. Besides just being in the finals felt like a dream.

Next up was Drew Hatch in the 160 lb. bracket.  Recovering from a torn meniscus, Drew had his first loss of the season the day before against senior Morgan Smith of Meadowdale, and needed every win to stay in the running.  His first match of the day was against freshman Mason McDaniel and ended with a win by injury forfeit.  Next up Drew wrestled the number 3 ranked sophomore Bryson Pierce from North Central.  It was a tough match, but Drew dominated and won 8-5 securing his spot on the podium and ending up with a fourth place medal.  “I put alot of pressure on myself to do better than last year, but I can’t say I am not a little disappointed.” Drew said. “ I just can’t wait for next year when I am completely healed and hopefully my teammates and I will get another chance.”

Iggy Gabov took 8th place.

Iggy Gabov took 8th place.

Ignat or “Iggy was last to wrestle in the semi final round. Iggy’s story is the most interesting. He and his family moved from Russia to Marysville several years ago.  After dominating at football he decided to try wrestling. It was difficult for him to communicate with the coaches at first because English was his second language, but Iggy didn’t give up.  In only his second year he made it to the state championships on pure brute strength.  He won three matches with a “head and arm” and moved on to place 8th.

The sophomores of Marysville Pilchuck are all ready looking forward to Mat Classic XXVI and the future.  Killian, Drew and Ryan all shared the same words; “There are many promising wrestlers in the Marysville Wrestling Club and coming up from the middle schools. We are going to have a strong team next year and the year after, and hopefully we will just keep going.”

Both the wrestlers and coaches are hopeful for the State Championships in 2014 as well as the IOC’s final vote on the fate of Olympic Wrestling.