Stanwood’s Riley Van Scoy (right), takes down Bethel’s Quincy Osterlund on the way to winning the 145-pound weight class at the Marysville Pilchuck Premier Wrestling Tournament in January. (Ian Terry / The Herald)

Stanwood’s Riley Van Scoy (right), takes down Bethel’s Quincy Osterlund on the way to winning the 145-pound weight class at the Marysville Pilchuck Premier Wrestling Tournament in January. (Ian Terry / The Herald)

Prep wrestling: Five storylines to follow this season

Will Lake Stevens return to its dominating ways?

Related: Lake Stevens’ Lawrence eyes 2nd straight state wrestling title

LAKE STEVENS — With one of its youngest teams in years, Lake Stevens finished seventh in the Class 4A team standings at Mat Classic last February, the only appearance outside the top five since 2002 for a program that has dominated the past two decades.

At some programs, it would be cause for major concern, maybe even panic.

But Vikings coach Brent Barnes, a newly minted Hall of Famer, said there was no period of mourning.

“We really just moved forward,” said Barnes, who joined his father, Ray, in the Washington State Coaches Association Hall of Fame in October. “We had a great year in terms of the kids we had, and we knew that we were young. It was a good season, a success. Of course, we’d like to place higher than that, but we had a lot of kids really step up.”

Barnes said this offseason, which saw the return of 11 state participants and four placers — led by reigning 170-pound state champion Malachi Lawrence — was one of the most productive of his 30-year career.

“It was one of the best we’ve had — ever,” he said. “We spent a large amount of time on the mat as a group, and it was quality time. When you’re doing work together, it’s easier to hold each other accountable.”

The young Vikings learned some tough lessons in the Tacoma Dome — seven of the 11 Vikings in the field wrestled two or three matches before being eliminated — but are back to set things right.

Lake Stevens should be plenty deep, but that depth has to perform at Mat Classic.

“The goal is to take a bunch of above-average kids and turn them into kids who could place in the top four or five at the state tournament,” Barnes said. “There are teams like us, like Tahoma and Curtis, who have a lot of firepower. It might take 10 placers to get the job done.”

Ally de la Cruz leads group of elite girls

Kamiak senior Ally de la Cruz followed up an undefeated junior campaign that ended with her first state championship by not wrestling at all between February and the start of practice for the 2017-18 season.

In the age of athletes focusing year-round on one sport, de la Cruz is a refreshing change.

“Ally is a three-sport athlete,” Kamiak coach Bryan Stelling said. “She swims and does track. She fully concentrates on whichever sport she’s in that season, and has been applying to colleges and stuff like that.”

There’s not much to tweak in the repertoire of a 36-0 state champion, but Stelling said the 155-pound de la Cruz is always searching for more moves.

“She really doesn’t have a bad position, but she’s always working on technique,” he said. “She picks up whatever I bring by her pretty quickly. The other day we were working on a specialty move called a ‘Kelly Turk,’ and she had no problem picking it up.”

Southern Oregon has contacted de la Cruz about wrestling there, but Stelling said she’s focused on her goal of becoming a physician and has looked into applying to a service academy.

The Kamiak star headlines a burgeoning class of elite girls wrestlers in the area that includes returning state-placers Kiley Hubby of Glacier Peak (third at 140), Snohomish’s Joessie Gonzales (fourth at 130), Granite Falls’ Karrah Smith (sixth at 145) and Mattea Potter (eighth at 125).

Van Scoy breaking out

Stanwood sophomore Riley Van Scoy made an emphatic statement in his first state tournament last season, finishing third at 138 pounds and soundly beating Arlington veteran Gavin Rork — a former freshman phenom himself — 8-3 in the third/fifth place bout.

Van Scoy built on that success in the offseason by traveling to different clubs in the area in search of the best training partners he could find.

“He challenged himself all spring and summer, and he’s matured into being a team leader,” Spartans coach Ray Mather said. “He’s taking a little bit of the things that he knows and is giving back, being an example and a mentor.”

Van Scoy represented Team Washington at the Cadet National Duals in York, Pennsylvania, in June, along with Marysville Pilchuck’s Cayden White, and both are candidates to top the podium at Mat Classic.

“The biggest compliment I could give Riley is that he grinds. He battles in there,” Mather said. “There’s not a lot that’s going to deter him, and there is not a fear factor of anyone he’s going to compete against. There’s not a whole lot he’s afraid of, and he’s not afraid to pull the trigger. He lets it fly.”

Sultan retools

There’s a new look to the Sultan Turks this season, but coach Garth MacDicken’s expectations of greatness are still the same.

Sultan has placed in the top 10 in the Class 1A team standings at state for three consecutive seasons, but a big hurdle in its quest for sustained excellence is coming this season.

Eight seniors graduated from last year’s team, a group that formed the backbone of the Turks’ squad that handed off a three-year dual-meet winning streak to this year’s team.

“We definitely had a lot of kids graduate, but we have some great kids coming back and a few freshmen coming in that have done a lot over the summer and come from great wrestling backgrounds,” MacDicken said. “We still have enough good kids in the room to be great.”

Junior Luke Weaver (sixth at 113) and senior Kaleb Dennis (fifth at 160) are the Turks’ returning state placers, and MacDicken said senior Tre Sargent and sophomore Aidan Fleming are ready to make a jump.

Sargent was a state participant as a sophomore in 2016, but his junior campaign was derailed by injuries. Fleming qualified for state as a freshman last season.

Changes coming to Mat Classic?

Coaches’ complaints grew louder about the regional format that many view as no longer applicable when conferences are built primarily around geography and travel concerns rather than classification.

As an alternative to regional tournaments the Saturday before Mat Classic, coaches would like the WIAA to begin the state tournament a day early, on Thursday instead of Friday, and, in effect, make the regionals part of the state tournament.

“Why not (take) those four eight-man brackets (in each classification) and move them to the Thursday before the state tournament?,”said Edmonds-Woodway coach Brian Alfi, who is a member of the state coaches’ board and has worked with the WIAA on reform.

“Doing that would become a cost thing, and ADs might not want to send all those kids to state and pay for more hotel rooms, but some schools are already paying for hotel rooms to travel to regionals. Coaches really want 32-man brackets at the state tournament, and we think when ADs look at the math, they’ll want it too.”

Alfi said change could be slow in coming, but he and the coaches’ board are encouraged by the shift of WIAA assistant executive director Brian Smith, a former head wrestling coach at Bellingham High School, to oversight of wrestling. Smith replaces John Miller in that post.

“The change in leadership was a big deal for us,” Alfi said. “Brian Smith knows wrestling.”

Talk to us

More in Sports

AquaSox’s Travis Kuhn and Emerald’s Ryan Jensen an hour after the game between the two teams on Sunday continue standing in salute to the National Anthem at Funko Field on Sunday, Aug. 25, 2019 in Everett, Wash. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Reports suggest AquaSox may become full-season High-A team

The club would field players further along in their development who are more likely to one day play for the Mariners.

Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Bud Dupree (48) pushes past Jacksonville Jaguars offensive tackle Cam Robinson (74), left, to sack quarterback Jake Luton (6) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Gary McCullough)
How local NFL products fared in Week 11

Marysville Pilchuck alum Jake Luton struggles against the league’s last undefeated team.

Seattle Sounders' Nicolas Lodeiro (10) is congratulated on his goal by Jordan Morris (13), who had an assist, during the first half of an MLS playoff soccer match against Los Angeles FC on Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Defending champs moving on as Sounders oust LAFC

Seattle opens the playoff with a 3-1 win and advances to face FC Dallas in the Western semifinals.

Washington's Josiah Bronson motions after the team recovered an Arizona fumble during an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
UW to face Utah on Saturday after Apple Cup cancellation

The Huskies were able to find a Pac-12 opponent able to play in Seattle this weekend.

Sporting opposing team gear, Lauren Rice and Avery Kirkman, right, enjoy chatting together as Dutch Hill Elementary in Snohomish held an Apple Cup-themed Dads and Donuts event in advance of the 2018 matchup between Washington and Washington State. This year’s Apple Cup, scheduled for Friday, was canceled because of a coronavirus outbreak among WSU players, but it’s possible the annual rivalry contest could be rescheduled. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
POLL: Will the Apple Cup happen this year?

Friday’s football game between UW and WSU was called off, but there’s still hope of rescheduling.

Glacier Peak's Madison Rubino drives around Snohomish's Kaylin Beckman as Snohomish lost to Glacier Peak 50-39 in a non-league girls' basketball game on Monday, Dec. 9, 2019 in Snohomish, Wash. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
A list of local athletes set to play sports in college

The early signing period for all NCAA sports except football opened Wednesday.

Marysville-Getchell's Malakhi Knight leads a fast break against Wilson Wednesday morning at the Tacoma Dome on March 4, 2020. Marysville-Gethchell lost to Wilson 73-52. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
WIAA pushes back return to play for prep sports

Season 2 now begins Feb. 1 and seasons have been shortened to seven weeks each.

Washington players run from a purple cloud onto the field before an NCAA college football game against Arizona, in a stadium empty of spectators Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Apple Cup canceled due to coronavirus concerns at Wazzu

The Cougars lack enough scholarship players because of positive COVID-19 tests and contact tracing.

Seattle Sounders forward Jordan Morris, right, takes a shot in front of LA Galaxy defender Julian Araujo during the first half of an MLS soccer match Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020, in Carson, Calif. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)
In uncertain times, Sounders’ constant has been a will to win

The second-seeded team hosts seventh-seeded Los Angeles FC tonight at the newly named Lumen Field.

Most Read