EDMONDS — Everett senior wrestler Stephan Erosa and his coach, Brien Elliott, present a study in contrast.
Erosa, who claimed the 126-pound championship at the 3A Region 3 tournament Saturday at Edmonds-Woodway High School in a low-scoring, technical victory, which is the kind of match the quiet, analytical three-time Mat Classic participant prefers.
While Erosa was grinding out his two wins Saturday by the combined score of 7-2, Elliott a self-described “emotional roller-coaster” was yelling, gesticulating and stressing enough for them both.
Erosa beat Southridge’s Giovanni Penaloza 2-1 in the semifinal before dispatching Edmonds-Woodway’s Grayson LeCompte 5-1 in the championship bout, and his facial expression never changed once.
“He’s a pretty level-headed kid, and sometimes I want him to be more emotional, but that’s not his style,” Elliott said. “You’re not going to get that out of him.”
After Erosa finished eighth at the state tournament last year following a runner-up finish at regionals, he and Elliott went over tape of all of his matches in the off-season, intent on making the most out of his senior year.
“He had trouble beating leg riders, couldn’t get off the bottom and was kind of one-dimensional on his feet,” Elliott said. “We worked on every one of those weaknesses and turned them into strengths. He’s really tough with his arm-bar series now, and he’s got some go-to takedowns now.”
Elliott also credited former Kamiak coach Tracy Regan and ex-Seagull stars Jessie and Danny Lopez for working with Erosa one-on-one to get him to this point.
In both of his matches Saturday, Erosa was on the right side of the moments that swung each bout. In his semifinal win over Penaloza, he scored a two-point reversal early in the second period to get on the scoreboard first, and though he ceded an escape to start the third period, he fought Penaloza off to earn the 2-1 win.
The final was more of a complete performance. Erosa’s work with the Lopez brothers on leg ride defense showed, as he never let LeCompte really get to that part of his arsenal. Erosa’s takedown near the end of the second period gave him the upper hand with a 2-1 lead.
“Getting the first takedown in a match like that is huge. With two talented kids like that, the margin of error is very small,” Edmonds-Woodway coach Brian Alfi said. “That one attack changed the complexion of the match and Grayson had to wrestle differently since he was behind.”
Erosa began the third period from the bottom position, and LeCompte intentionally let him escape to make the score 3-1. Erosa sealed the 5-1 win with a late takedown.
“I prefer low-scoring matches because I’ve always been more of a defensive wrestler,” Erosa said. “I just try to stay in good position as much as I can and be offensive when I have to. Low-scoring matches are all about position.”
Wheeler honors injured teammate
Snohomish sophomore 182-pounder Dylan Wheeler had a tough night Friday.
He lost his opening-round match Friday to Everett’s Krys DuPree in a 7-5 decision, and then saw his mentor in the Panthers’ wrestling room, senior 182-pounder Ben Kloes, bow out of the tournament after suffering a concussion in a consolation match.
Kloes had worked all season to recover from a knee injury, beating DuPree for the sub-regional crown last weekend at Stanwood, and was Wheeler’s primary training partner once he returned.
“Ben taught me pretty much everything I know, from how to be a better wrestler to how to be a more humble person,” Wheeler said.
With his teammate in mind, Wheeler surged through the consolation bracket Saturday, pinning Marysville Getchell’s Edgar Duenas and beating Meadowdale’s Chauncey Gantt 12-0 to set up a rematch with DuPree in the consolation final, with a state berth on the line.
Down 1-0 late in the bout, Wheeler scored a reversal just before time expired to stun DuPree 2-1 and punch his ticket to state.
“It was just adrenaline,” Wheeler said of his late heroics. “I just wanted to do it for Ben.”
By the numbers
Out of a possible 52 available state berths, the three Mid-Columbia Conference schools (Kamiakin, Southridge and Kennewick) took 25, or just below half. The three Tri-Cities schools also accounted for 17 of the 28 finalists and nine of the 14 regional champions.
That left 27 berths for the 12 Wesco 3A schools, which were represented by nine finalists and five champions — Marysville Pilchuck’s Cole Daurie at 106 pounds, Edmonds-Woodway’s Howie Hare at 120, Erosa, Marysville Getchell’s Trey Padgett at 138, and Stanwood’s Mason Phillips at 145.
It’s pretty consistent with last year’s regional at Everett, where the visitors from the east took 24 state berths, had 12 finalists and eight champions.
Marysville Pilchuck, Wesco 3A’s top performer, registered one champion, four finalists and will send seven wrestlers to the Tacoma Dome.
Marysville Pilchuck senior Daurie has been on a mission all season to improve on his fourth-place finish at last year’s state tournament.
He compiled a 26-1 record heading into the regional, and carried himself with an almost tangible intensity.
“It’s my final year, so I want to do the best I can do, and that’s the top of the podium,” Daurie said. “That’s the goal.”
He registered two emphatic wins at regionals to set up a championship bout against Edmonds-Woodway freshman Baylor Denkinger.
A rare senior 106-pounder, Daurie’s physical advantage was obvious, and he exerted his will over the younger Denkinger in a 13-2 major decision.