Lake Stevens’ Bryce Slezak (left) and Glacier Peak’s Connor Aney wrestle during the 285-pound match during a league dual on Thursday at Lake Stevens High School. (Annie Barker / The Herald)

Lake Stevens’ Bryce Slezak (left) and Glacier Peak’s Connor Aney wrestle during the 285-pound match during a league dual on Thursday at Lake Stevens High School. (Annie Barker / The Herald)

Lake Stevens tops GP, claims another Wesco 4A wrestling title

The Vikings found success all evening, racing to a 60-19 win over the Grizzlies in the de facto league-title dual.

LAKE STEVENS — Nearly everything fell into place on the mat for the Lake Stevens boys wrestling team on Thursday night. The Vikings found their stride, closing out the last six matches with pins during the de facto Wesco 4A championship match, collapsing league opponent Glacier Peak 60-19.

With the victory, the Vikings (4-3, 4-1) were able to capture their 14th Wesco 4A league title in program history.

“The kids wrestled fantastic,” first-year Lake Stevens coach Derek Lopez said. “The thing I really like about this team is that we have a system in place, but their all individuals and everyone has their own tweaks to it. .. Some are going for an aggressive approach and some are going upper body or leg attacks. We want to see them figure out who they are on the mat.”

Lake Stevens juniors Troy Valentine and Jacob Christianson, who both rank in the top-five in the state for the 113-pound weight class, wrestled up a weight and performed admirably in their matchups.

Valentine was active during his time on the mat, putting up 11 points in a variety of ways before pinning freshman London Owens late in the second.

Christianson, who earned a fourth-place finish at Mat Classic in 2022, used his speed and elusiveness to his advantage against Ulysses Lopez-Vazquez. Christianson went full rush-mode early on, forcing his opponent out of bounds three times before settling in for an intense pin in the second.

“He’s a phenomenal kid,” Lopez said. “He’s an (even) better kid than he is a wrestler.

“Jacob has went through a lot of bumps this year, he’s had some losses, but he never gets discouraged because he’s wrestled against some of the best in the country. .. He’s found what’s working for him, and when your at that level it’s going to click as long as you don’t put too much pressure on yourself.”

In addition, Vikings sophomore Levi Allinson had what Lopez said was one of his better matches of the year, winning by pin over Colin Gibbs in the final round of the 138-pound match.

The Vikings asserted themselves early on, earning pins in the first three bouts until Glacier Peak (6-2, 2-2) struck back in the 195-pound match.

In what was one of the more entertaining square-offs, Glacier Peak junior Angus van Valey was able to give his team some hope, upsetting Lake Stevens senior Lucas Overland, who placed sixth at Mat Classic in 2022. van Valey held off Overland’s moves until the final round, where he was able to put some points on the board with a reversal and takedown in the final two minutes to seal the win.

The Grizzlies came into town with a legitimate shot at taking home the league championship themselves, but instead were taken out of rhythm, excluding some of the brighter moments of the night.

In the 285-pound match, Glacier Peak sophomore Connor Aney, who was a runner-up at state in 2022, put on a show with a dominant pin in the first two minutes over Bryce Slezak.

Teammate and sophomore Colin Edmonds (145) took home a 4-0 decision over Lake Stevens senior Mick McClain, using his lower center of gravity to wear him down over time after McClain had an initial hard-hitting takedown to start things off.

Lopez expressed excitement about where Lake Stevens finds itself come postseason competition despite having an up-and-down trajectory over the course of the season.

“We’re headed in the right direction,” he said. “You can kinda judge by the end of the year if they’re working hard, having fun, and how they feel when they get in the ring. You can tell when people are dragging after getting beat up, and in our locker room everyone’s in good spirits and cheering for each other all the time. They’re starting to find their identity and it’s really fun to watch.”

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