Jamell Sultan’s Jamell Carroll II (center) works out last February at Sultan H.S. Carroll has put on 25 pounds of muscle this season and will try to cap his prep career with a state championship that has thus far eluded him. (Andy Bronson/The Herald)

Prep wrestling: 5 to watch

Jamell Carroll II

Sultan | Sr. | 170

After coming up short of a state championship last year as a junior in gut-wrenching fashion, Carroll is showing an increased level of urgency to cap an otherwise sterling prep career with his first title.

“Jamell knows that state title match was a tough one to take. He’s very fit right now and in probably the best shape I’ve ever seen him in,” Sultan coach Garth MacDicken said of Carroll, who has put on 25 pounds of muscle in the offseason and will make his 2016-17 debut at 170 pounds when the Turks put their four-year dual meet winning streak on the line against Forks on Friday.

Carroll did not play football for Sultan this fall, instead focusing solely on wrestling. He attended camps and showcases on the East Coast for the second consecutive offseason.

“His mental focus and effort in practice have just been off the charts,” MacDicken said. “He’s upped his intensity and upped his aggressiveness and is very attack-minded in his wrestling, which we’ve been looking for for a long time.”

Colton Ferro

Arlington | Sr. | 195

Ferro, who finished fifth at 195 at Mat Classic last season, has embraced new Eagles coach Jonny Gilbertson’s directive to not just win matches, but to leave no doubt as to his dominance.

“The biggest thing that Colton has is his mindset,” Gilbertson said. “He had a 7-2 or 8-2 lead in his match against Kamiak on Thursday going into the third round, and he very easily could have coasted to a five or six-point win, but I asked him to turn it up and pour it on in the third period and he did that to earn a major decision for his team.”

Gilbertson praised Ferro’s leadership in the room and said he performed well at offseason camps at North Idaho College and at Edmonds-Woodway.

“He’s been leading workouts on off days when I’m not there, and has really stepped up in a leadership role, but he’s also very driven to personally be successful. He has everything he needs to make a solid run at a state title.”

Malachi Lawrence

Lake Stevens | Jr. | 182

The powerful Lawrence has found himself (along with fellow juniors Jake Bennett and Nate Scilley) among the leaders in the Vikings’ room after the graduation of program cornerstones Michael Soler, Jake Douglas and Trysten Perales last year.

Lawrence, who placed third at 160 pounds at Mat Classic as a sophomore last year, is off to a good start to his junior season, claiming first place at the Sidney (Mont.) Eagle Invite in his debut.

“He’s had a pretty good offseason of wrestling and has been to quite a few tournaments, but what’s been nice is that he’s been working out with Soler,” Lake Stevens coach Brent Barnes said. “I’m certainly too old to wrestle with him.”

Very few programs are fortunate enough to have a four-time state champion roll into the practice room to give a talent like Lawrence someone to push him in workouts, but the Vikings are the exception. Soler is finishing up his associate’s degree at Everett Community College before heading to to UW.

Lawrence’s biggest strength lies in his sheer physicality, but not at the expense of versatility.

“He’s a handful. He’s just so stocky and has such muscle mass that he’s tough to deal with, but what’s not typical of his body type is that he’s really good on top. He can put his legs on you, and that’s not typical of a guy that’s shorter. He can be grinding from on top.”

Mason Phillips

Stanwood | Jr. | 138

It’s been a whirlwind year for Phillips, who after sitting out his freshman season with a torn ACL suffered in summer workouts, exploded on the scene as a sophomore, defeating Arlington’s Jeremy Nygard in the district, regional and state finals on successive weekends.

Phillips continued that momentum into July, where he won the Cadet Greco-Roman championship at the Asics/Vaughan Cadet and Junior National Championships in Fargo, N.D., and placed second in freestyle.

Stanwood coach Ray Mather equates winning in Fargo to making a McDonald’s All-America team in basketball or playing in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in football, and said Phillips distinguished himself among the elite high school wrestlers in the nation.

“What he’s accomplished has not been in a short amount of time. His whole life has been dedicated to getting to the place he’s at right now,” Mather said. “The mental focus and toughness that he showed, having to sit and watch his dreams of being a four-time state champion not become reality, have only helped to motivate him.”

Mather said Phillips’ body awareness and athleticism are his calling cards.

“He received God’s gifts just a little bit more than others,” he said. “You can’t coach that stuff and you can’t teach it.”

Sam Zook

Oak Harbor | Sr. | 285

A heavyweight with rare athleticism and agility, Zook was also a standout two-way lineman for the Wildcats’ football team that reached the tri-district round of the state playoffs this season.

At 6-foot-6 and 260 pounds, Zook has the strength to manhandle weaker opponents and the technical skills to take care of business on the mat.

“He’s a more athletic heavyweight. He’s an agile kid and he can move,” Oak Harbor coach Larry Falcon said. “A lot of his success comes from the fact that he can move and get around his opponents.”

Zook placed third at Mat Classic last season, and both wrestlers who finished above him have graduated, leaving him as the presumptive favorite in his senior season.

Falcon said Zook — who honed his craft at Oregon State’s Big Man Camp this summer — is unfazed by increased expectations.

“Sam does not work in those frames,” Falcon said. “He looks at Washington Wrestling Report and sees it for what it is — one person’s opinion. He’s a very grounded person and goes out there and wrestles for his team. He’s a down-to-earth kid and a natural leader. He’s an amazing kid to have in my room.”

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