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

One-on-One with stellar student-athlete Drew Hatch

Photo: Eighty8images

Photo: Eighty8images


By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

Many know Drew Hatch from his record-breaking athletic accomplishments on the football field and wrestling mat. For football, he was honored as the Everett Herald Defensive Player of the Year and earned 3A second-team honors on the 2014 Associated Press all-state football teams. For wrestling, he broke record after record on his way to becoming the most winning wrestler in Tomahawk history.

Yet, others know Drew from being a member of the Tulalip Canoe Family. He honors his Tulalip heritage by drumming and singing at community events. Many don’t know that Drew was one of five Marysville Pilchuck students honored with the Moyer Foundation’s annual Kids Helping Kids Award.

He has been an active member in his high school community, while remaining true to his roots as a Tulalip tribal member. Following his graduation from Marysville Pilchuck High School, the time has finally come for Drew to try his talents as both a student and an athlete at the next level, college. In order to do that he will be leaving the confines of the only home he has ever known. He is both prepared and excited to being his next journey.


Photo: Eighty8images

Photo: Eighty8images


When you look back at your high school years, what are some of your favorite memories?

“Most of them will definitely be sports related. Being able to play football and participate in wrestling with my friends and having fun being a part of that brotherhood. Both sports I enjoyed doing, they are what I’m most passionate about.”


You opted to attend Marysville Pilchuck High School (MP) instead of Heritage High School, were there any specific reasons as to why?

“My dad has been a wrestling coach at MP since I was in 5th grade. I practiced with their wresting team from 5th grade to 8th grade, so I had an established relationship with the wrestling coaches and football coaches long before I was high school age. One of my counselors at Totem Middle School was Brian McCutchen. He was also a football coach at MP and was one of my favorite people, so he also had a big influence on me to attend MP and be under his coaching.”

Following the MP shooting you really stepped up and took more of a leadership role at school, on your teams, and in the community. What made you step up like that?

“I saw how many people, friends, family and community members were down about everything. I knew that my whole football team had lost friends or relatives, I did too, but being a captain on the football team I’m responsible for holding that position. I wanted to be the person who had a hand out to help people in any way I could. Whether it was bringing someone to practice or just putting a smile on someone’s face, it’s all part of the healing process.”


What are your immediate plans following high school?

“I’ll be attending Oregon State University to play football and hope to receive a degree in Business Management.”


I’m sure you received a few different offers from colleges. Why did you choose Oregon State?

“I chose Oregon State because it felt the most like home. Corvallis is a small town where everyone knows each other but still offers everything that’s appealing about going to a university. It’s a good fit for me.”


Did you receive a football scholarship from Oregon State?

“I did not receive an official scholarship to play football, but I can earn one though. I’m on the football team as an outside linebacker and will be playing Pac-12 football, just not on a scholarship.”


Do you plan on wrestling at the collegiate level?

“I don’t plan on it. I might step in the room a little bit, but I won’t be committing to wrestling. Between the two sports, football is the one I’m more passionate about. Plus my focus is going to be split already between my studies and football.”


Being a student-athlete, you’ve been able to successfully carry that title. Most people know you from your success as an athlete, but you have remained dedicated to your studies as a student to the point you were recognized as the Male Student of the Year at the 2015 graduation banquet. How were you able to manage school with sports? 

“It not easy that’s for sure. I struggled with my grades the first two years of high school. I was too focused on things away from school, like video games and hanging out with friends. As I matured, I realized I could still do those things but they’d have to come second to doing homework and studying. Once I realized that and made homework the priority and then did everything else after, things got easier. My study habits got better, which made taking tests and completing homework not as challenging.”


Are there any counselors or tribal liaisons who helped you stay the course, keep you motivated, or help you along the way?

“Matt Remle and Ricky B. played huge roles in me succeeding in and out of school. They were always checking on me and making sure I was keeping up my grades. They were always there to keep me in line and help me in any way they could, both academically and sports wise. They opened up doors that I didn’t even know were there, like with learning about tribal funding and tutors. They did a lot for me my entire high school career.”


Drew Hatch gives MPHS Native Liaison Matt Remle a hug at the 2015 Tulalip graduation celebration. Photo: Micheal Rios

Drew Hatch gives MPHS Native Liaison Matt Remle a hug at the 2015 Tulalip graduation celebration.
Photo: Micheal Rios



You’ve recognized already that there will be huge differences from the high school level to the college level. What’s more important, playing college football or getting a degree?

“It’s been a lifelong goal of mine to play a college sport and I hope to accomplish that early on after my first OSU game. Being on that football field for the first time as an OSU Beaver will mean so much to me, but at the same time I know that sports aren’t the world. A degree is far more important because the likelihood of going pro in a sport is really low, but I know if I work hard and keep up my focus I can receive my Business degree and then use that accomplish more goals as an adult.”


Unfortunately, for many Tulalip tribal members their formal education stops at the high school level. You’ve chosen to take advantage of the Tribes ability to pay for your college education. What would be your message to those high school graduates of this year and in years to come in regards to taking full advantage of education after high school?

“I would say the Rez will always be here, your family will always be here. I’m not advocating going away forever, but go experience the world and achieve your goals as an independent adult. Then, when you have achieved your goals and experience life outside of Tulalip, you can come back with the knowledge and brain power to start your life back here. A high school diploma can only get you so far today. Getting an A.A. or B.A. will open so many more doors to you and give you options that wouldn’t otherwise be there.”


Indian Country Responds to the International Olympic Committee Putting Wrestling on the Chopping Block

By Vincent Shilling, Indian Country Today Media Network

 Greco-Roman wrestling at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Photo: AP/Paul Sancya

Greco-Roman wrestling at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Photo: AP/Paul Sancya

In February, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Switzerland announced that wrestling will likely be voted out of the Olympics. Wrestling has been a fixture of the Olympics since 708 B.C. and is considered by many to be the oldest competitive sport.

According to the Associated Press, the IOC reviewed the 26 sports listed on the current Olympic program and could eliminate wrestling–both freestyle and Greco-Roman–in a final vote later this year to make way for the inclusion of a new sport such as rugby or golf in the 2020 games. The IOC’s recent decision has drawn massive criticism in banning a sport that has long been connected to the Olympics and is even mentioned in the Bible.

“This is a process of renewing and renovating the program for the Olympics,” said IOC spokesman Mark Adams. “In the view of the executive board, this was the best program for the Olympic Games in 2020. It’s not a case of what’s wrong with wrestling; it is what’s right with the 25 core sports.”

Wrestling was voted out from a final group that also included the modern pentathlon, taekwondo and field hockey. Wrestling now joins baseball, softball, karate, squash, roller sports, sport climbing, wakeboarding and wushu (full contact Chinese martial arts) as candidates for the 26th and final spot. Though the IOC’s decision is based in part upon contemporary sports popularity, some in Indian country say there are consequences that the IOC committee may not have considered.

“When you are a basketball player you dream of the NBA, when you are a football player you dream of the NFL. When you are a wrestler, it is the Olympics, that is the pinnacle,” says Troy Heinert, the varsity wrestling coach for Todd County High School on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota and a South Dakota State Representative. “When you are taking that away, the ones I really feel bad about are the college wrestlers right now. They are going through tough college seasons looking forward to tryouts and maybe making the Olympic team once their college career is finished.

“I think this was a terrible decision by the IOC,” says Heinert. “This means for the 2016 Games that will be the end of wrestling. I cannot see why this is a logical choice especially when so many countries around the world participate in wrestling in the Olympics.”

South Dakota State Representative Troy Heinart will take the IOC to the legislative mat.
South Dakota State Representative Troy Heinart will take the IOC to the legislative mat.

According to Heinert and Stephanie Murata, Osage and a former national women’s wrestling champion, the efforts to completely remove the sport from the Olympics have not as of yet been finalized, despite wrestling being voted out in the initial round of voting for 2020.

“Wrestling has not really been removed yet, it is just a recommendation as far as the different sports from which and will be removed,” says Murata. “There has not been a final decision yet, there are two more Olympic IOC meetings. One will be in St. Petersburg and the other, final decision, which is the one that is the most concerning, will be in Buenos Aires in September.”

Champion wrestler Stephanie Murata, Osage, thinks the IOC is making a bad decision.
Champion wrestler Stephanie Murata, Osage, thinks the IOC is making a bad decision.


Both Murata and Heinert say that the IOC’s decision is most likely based on a desire to embrace contemporary sports, but wrestling–with all of its tradition and history—should not be removed. For Murata, a woman wrestler feels an even greater desire to see the sport retained. Women’s wrestling wasn’t admitted into the Olympic program until 1996.

“All of this is ironic because women’s wrestling in relation to men’s wrestling just got into the Olympics. We as women, have been in this situation of wanting to be in the Olympics for a significant period of time and everyone still trained, because they wanted to be in the Olympics and they wanted to be ready once it was,” Murata said.

Regardless of the recent vote by the IOC, the international wrestling world is not going to go down without a fight.

“I know there has been a push by the wrestling community and governors from different states across the country and they are petitioning the IOC to reinstate wrestling,” says Heinert. “The talk I have heard is that the United States, Russia, Iran, China – the bigger countries that have competed in the Olympics and European countries are going to have to make that big push. Russia has former Olympic wrestlers in Parliament and they are working very hard and putting pressure on the IOC.”

Heinert is even taking the matter into the legislative system. “Our governor here in South Dakota signed onto a bill of legislation with other governors to ask for wrestling to be reinstated. South Dakota does have an Olympic gold medalist. I am a legislator in South Dakota and next year I will be bringing a resolution to both houses to be sent to the IOC,” he said. “This may flood [mixed martial arts] with potential Olympic wrestlers. You went to high school, you went through college… a lot of these guys have wrestled since they have been four years old, for the last 20 years, they have been training themselves to be a wrestler.

“Without the Olympics, what is your draw? When you see a trainer who is an Olympic gold medalist or an Olympic wrestler, that draws you to that camp instantly. You will see a decline in camp enrollment I think. “Wrestling is important to us, it goes back to when we were training for warfare. Not just in the Roman days but we as Lakotas,” says Heinert. “It has been here, since we have been here.

“A national title, and being All-American is something to be extremely proud of, it takes a lot of skill and a lot of hard work. But I cannot imagine there’s anything like holding a gold medal for your country,” said Heinert. “Hopefully the IOC will see the mistake it is making and reverse its decision.”

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2013/03/14/indian-country-responds-international-olympic-committee-putting-wrestling-chopping-block