Motivated by defeat

If JoMae Alewine isn’t on a wrestling mat, odds are she’s online.

Alewine, a senior at Lake Stevens High School, is set to compete in the girls state wrestling championships for the fourth straight year. The all-classification girls tournament is part of Mat Classic XXII, which begins today at the Tacoma Dome.

Besides wrestling, which she does 10 months of the year, Alewine’s favorite pastime is connecting with friends and family on social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook. One of her favorite people to Web chat with is her brother, BJ Alewine.

He is the reason JoMae became a wrestler.

When she was 6, JoMae went to every one of her brother’s practices and meets. It looked fun, she decided, and at age 9 she became a wrestler too.

Now, as she gears up for her final competition as a Lake Stevens Viking, Alewine is favored to earn a top-four finish for the fourth consecutive season. Her brother, a 2009 Lake Stevens High graduate who competed at Mat Classic last year, won’t be there; He serves in the Army and is stationed in Seoul, South Korea.

JoMae Alewine surely will have lots of news to share with her brother the next time they get to Web chat.

After placing fourth at state in 2007 and 2008, JoMae placed second last year. This time she is ranked No. 2 in the 103-pound weight division by, behind defending champ Lauren Richardson, a junior from Bremerton.

Last year Richardson pinned Alewine in the finals. The defeat jolted Alewine.

“It motivated me,” she said. “It made me realize that I need to start working a lot harder and stuff’s not just going to be handed to me.”

Training with renewed passion, Alewine competed in freestyle wrestling for the first time last year. She placed fifth and earned All-America status at a prestigious national championship meet in North Dakota.

Alewine, who mainly works out with boys and frequently competed in the Lake Stevens boys varsity lineup, has been dominant during the high school season. She won titles at the Lady Wolfpack Invitational, the district tournament and the regional tournament.

“She’s become a more technical, better wrestler,” Lake Stevens coach Brent Barnes said. “She’s improved her practice habits. She works harder now than she did last year,”

Alewine said she wants to place first this weekend but her main mission is to have fun and savor the experience. She prepared as much as possible for this moment, she said.

“The more work that you put in, the more worth it it’s going to be in the end,” she said.

Local wrestlers ranked No. 1

Going into Mat Classic, seven grapplers from Snohomish County schools are ranked No. 1 in their respective classifications: Lake Stevens’ Josh Heinzer (4A, 112 pounds), Everett’s Jerry Contreras (3A, 160), Everett’s Alec Bird (3A, 215), Archbishop Murphy’s Cameron Wade (2A, 145), Darrington’s Jon Fenstermaker (1B/2B, 135), Darrington’s Moe Hyde (1B/2B, 285) and Lakewood’s Keely Caldwell (girls, 125).

Looking for a repeat

Heinzer of Class 4A Lake Stevens and Bird of 3A Everett are both defending individual state champions. Bird seeks his second straight championship, while Heinzer is trying for his third in a row. Heinzer would be the first three-time winner for Lake Stevens since Kelly Kubec, who placed first in 2005, 2006 and 2007.

“It’s going to be exciting. I’ve worked (extremely) hard to get here,” Heinzer said Tuesday after a grueling practice, “and I’m excited to express it, I guess you could say.”

“He’s gotten stronger and more explosive,” coach Barnes said of how Heinzer improved for his senior season. “He’s more physical than he was last year and he’s become a better wrestler.”

Heinzer helped Lake Stevens win the past three 4A state team titles, but this year the Vikings come in ranked third behind No. 1 Tahoma and No. 2 University.

Lots of talented girls

In addition to Lake Stevens’ Alewine, 10 other local wrestlers qualified for the state girls tournament. Lakewood and Stanwood each have three qualifiers. Lakewood is led by Caldwell, who placed fifth at 130 pounds in 2009. Stanwood’s highest-ranked competitor is sophomore Casey Mather (No. 2 at 112).

Surprising Seagull

Ranked sixth in 3A, Everett has seven Mat Classic participants. Most of them were expected to get this far, but not senior Evan Paeth, Seagulls coach Brien Elliott said. The 145-pound Paeth wrestled in Everett’s junior-varsity lineup all season and was a No. 7 seed for district, the first step of the postseason. But Paeth took third in that tournament and then earned a spot at state by placing fourth in Region IV. The unranked first-time state qualifier faces fourth-ranked Josh Peart of Bonney Lake in today’s opening round.

Brothers in the mix for Snohomish

Among 10th-ranked Snohomish’s seven state qualifiers for the Class 4A meet are brothers Micah and Mark Morrill. Micah Morrill, a senior, is unbeaten this season (38-0) and ranked No. 3 at 160 pounds. He placed third last year at 152. Mark Morrill, ranked seventh at 171 pounds, is a junior whose record is 33-5. He placed second last weekend in Region 1, challenging top-ranked Dylan Rutledge of Auburn before losing a 4-3 decision.

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