SEDRO-WOOLLEY - Mount Baker girls' wrestling coach Clyde Blockley had no clue whether or not the 2014 Woolley Women's Wrestling Tournament was tracking team scores during the nine hours of wrestling Saturday, Jan. 4, at Sedro-Woolley High School.
The tournament announcer kept it a mystery, never providing a team-scoring update.
After Mountaineers wrestler Akemi Schwinden won her 235-pound individual title, which was the last match of the tournament, Blockley detailed how well his girls did while admitting there was a lot of room for improvement. Suddenly, he was interrupted by the announcement of team scores.
Earlier in the day, the Baker coach said he thought his team would be close if the tournament was giving away a team award, and when it was revealed the Mountaineers had won by 53 points, Blockley was floored.
"Oh, wow, we won by a lot more than I thought," he said with a huge grin on his face.
Nine Mountaineers wrestled to top-five finishes, and Schwinden and sophomore 118-pound wrestler Natalie Smith both won individual titles to help Baker earn 160 points and a 2014 Woolley Women's Wrestling Tournament team championship. Smith and Schwinden represented Whatcom County's only champions in the talent-rich, 33-team tournament.
"I didn't figure we would win by this much," Blockley said. "There are probably 20 state placers here from last year. We got three to the finals and won two. The ones that lost their first matches are the ones who really came through. A lot of them ended up fifth."
Puyallup finished behind Baker in second with 107 points, Mount Vernon took third with 100 points, Burlington-Edison was fourth with 99 and Sedro-Woolley was fifth with 90. Lynden placed ninth with 55 points, while Bellingham and Squalicum's co-op team placed 23rd with 20 points and Sehome finished 28th with seven points.
While Blockley praised many of his team's fifth through third placers for the team win, Smith's and Schwinden's wrestling was the most impressive.
Smith, who placed eighth at last year's Mat Classic and is undefeated this season, advanced to her title match with a 6-0 first-round decision, a 9-0 quarterfinal decision and a semifinal pin in 1 minute, 49 seconds.
She was locked in a tight battle with Puyallup's Brooklyn Bartelson in the championship match, but scored a title-clinching takedown 30 seconds into the first overtime period.
Smith led 4-2 into the third period, but Bartelson got Smith on her back with a minute to go. The Baker sophomore worked her way out and scored a reversal to take back a 6-5 lead after Bartelson's three-point near fall. Smith was penalized for stalling in the final 20 seconds to pull the match even and send it to overtime.
"I was just trying to get off my back as much as I could to give her the least amount of points possible," Smith said. "Going into overtime, I was a little thrown off they gave her one point for stalling, but I fought through it."
The lengthy, muscular sophomore needed only 30 overtime seconds to corral Bartelson and send her tumbling to the floor on her back.
"I'm pretty excited," Smith said. "I saw a lot of girls today who looked pretty good. I recognized a few that went to state last year, so I was just ready for a good day."
Schwinden's match was far more brief.
She won her title by pinning Mount Vernon's Olga Valdez-Sauceda in 1:48 after waiting two-to-three hours between her semifinal win and championship match.
"It was tiring," said Schwinden of the long wait. "I just took a lot of naps, and it was fun seeing all my other teammates win and work hard in their matches."
The Baker standout earned pins in all three of her bouts, spending only 5:41 on the mat.
"I obviously like the win, but I have noticed some things I need to work on at practice," Schwinden admitted.
Jessica Mata, who lost her 130-pound title match to Grandview's Desiree Zavala, was the Mountaineers' next highest placer. Nicole Boardman (124) and Aniecea Camacho (155) took fourth, and Lacey Postlewait (106), Heidi Chambers (124), Aylvia Lynch (130) and Jordan Horsman (170) placed fifth.
Mount Baker dominated the tournament, but Lynden also had an impressive showing. Three Lions placed in the top five. Gabriela Herrera (130) took third, and Shannon Gee (137) and Kara Bouwman (235) placed fourth.
"I think our girls just keep getting better and better," Lynden coach Santos Gallegos said. "We have a really young team, but I think we have a lot to offer."
Herrera was pinned by Mata in the semifinals but bounced back during the third- or fourth-place match with a pin of her own against Inglemoor's Terra Strecker in 2:25.
"It was difficult," said Herrera of navigating through a tough 130-pound bracket, "but I just told myself, 'I'm going to win my way. This is my match. This is the way I do it.'"
Bellingham's Jasmine Cuellar was the Bellingham/Squalicum Co-op team's top finisher. She finished in sixth place, winning two straight matches after losing her first. Sehome's Emily Lucke went 2-2 but lost before reaching the fifth- or sixth-place match.
Reach Andrew Lang at email@example.com or call 360-756-2862. Follow @bhamsports on Twitter for Whatcom County sports updates.
2014 WOOLLEY WOMANS WRESTLING TOURNAMENT
MOUNT BAKER 160, PUYALLUP 107, MOUNT VERNON 100, BURLINGTON-EDISON 99, SEDRO-WOOLLEY 90, GRANDVIEW 80.5, KELSO 78.5, STADIUM 57.5, LYNDEN 55, ROGERS 54, (23) BELLINGHAM/SQUALICUM 20, (28) SEHOME 7
100: Mireille Powers (Kelso) dec. Celeste Wise 14-13. 106: Marizza Birrueta (Grandview) dec. Alison Johnson (Central Kitsap) 9-2. 112: Viannei Perez (Grandview) dec, Haley Franich (Puyallup) 8-6. 118: Natalie Smith (Mount Baker) dec. Brooklyn Bartelson (Puyallup) 8-6 (OT). 124: Jordan Bartelson (Puyallup) pin Yuliya Dzhumaniyazov (Kelso) 5:01. 130: Desiree Zavala (Grandview) pin Jessica Mata (Mount Baker) 5:23. 137: Joanna Moreira (Liberty) dec. Mariah Horton (Kelso) 3-1. 145: Taylor Dawson (Sedro-Woolley) dec. Amberlee Brason (South Kitsap) 10-8. 155: Brooke Peterson (Forks) pin Daiza Vann (Todd Beamer) 3:45. 170: Latiana Tauaese (Stadium) dec. Amber Drye (La Conner) 7-3. 190: Jasmine Tuilaepa (Puyallup) pin Hannah Lewandowski (White River) 5:55. 235: Akemi Schwinden (Mount Baker) pin Olga Valdez-Sauceda (Mount Vernon) 1:48. 137(B): Mariana Mitchell (Lynden) pin Katelyn Berrey (Sedro-Woolley) 0:24. 145B: Laura Vanlderstine (Mount Baker) pin Nicole Schmidt (Kelso) 1:48.
Reach ANDREW LANG at firstname.lastname@example.org or call ext. 862.