Blair Bennett was out to prove he deserved better than a No. 2 seed. Sergio Torres wanted to put last week’s fifth-place tournament finish behind him.
Both Bellingham wrestlers accomplished their missions during the 14th Annual Graham Morin Memorial Wrestling Tournament on Saturday, Dec. 20, at Squalicum High School.
Bennett pinned his way all the way through the 182-pound bracket before scoring a 13-6 decision over Port Angeles’ Evan Gallacci in the title match, and like Bennett, Torres pinned his way through the 132-pound bracket before beating Ferndale’s Wyatt Croy 15-0 in his championship bout.
“I had kind of something to prove,” Bennett said. “I was the two seed. I lost to a kid from Lynden last year at the beginning of the year. I just wanted to rebound off that and win the tournament, prove I was better than him, get a better seeding along the road.”
As for Torres, his title easily made up for what he felt was a disappointing Battle at the Border.
“After last week, I had some losses, and that kind of fired me up for this tournament,” he said.
While both the Red Raiders’ title-match wrestlers won, of the county schools at the Graham Morin Memorial Wrestling Tournament, Ferndale was the most impressive.
The Golden Eagles entered both their varsity and junior varsity teams and both came away with top-five finishes.
Port Angeles ended Snohomish’s 10-year reign as tournament champs, winning with 236.5 points, Ferndale took second with 200.5 points, Snohomish was third with 190, Oak Harbor was fourth with 127 and Ferndale’s JV team finished fifth with 125 points. Bellingham placed sixth with 113.5 points, Squalicum was seventh with 89.5, Lynden placed ninth with 63, Sehome was 10th with 45 and Nooksack Valley was 13th of the 13 schools with 19 points.
The Golden Eagles advanced seven wrestlers to title matches, including the 106-pound and the 160-pound matches which featured two Ferndale wrestlers in each match.
“I’m pretty happy in general, because our varsity took second and our JV is taking fourth or fifth, so you have to be happy with that,” Golden Eagles coach Caleb Schlack said. “As a whole we wrestled really solid. There were little mistakes here and there, but that is expected. I’m really pleased with how we did.”
Kyle Hansen and Ryan Slaughter, both 106-pounders, met in a title match Hansen won by way of pin. Devon Bennett reached the 126-pound final, Wyatt Croy was in the 132-pound final, Braiden Klimp wrestled in the 152-pound title match and Ben Broselle earned an injury default win over teammate Taylor Bellefuille in the 160-pound final.
Out of the seven who reached finals, only Hansen and Broselle came away with titles and only Hansen had to earn his win. The sophomore needed only a little less than two periods to pin Slaughter.
“This is my first tournament that I have gone undefeated in,” Hansen said. “I was JV all last year. It felt pretty good getting up there, because I’m like, ‘Oh, I can actually do this,’ It’s just a great confidence boost. It was all about fun, because honestly either one of us wins it’s the same.”
Squalicum 145-pound wrestler Zachary Wallace was the only other county wrestler to reach the finals, and although he finished on the wrong end of a 4-3 decision to Snohomish’s Noah Bomar, his finals match was the most entertaining.
After a first-period stalemate, Wallace finally scored a one-point escape with 38 seconds left in the second period. Bomar took bottom position to start the third period and quickly took a 2-1 lead, scoring a reversal 10 seconds in. Wallace couldn’t get out from under Bomar’s control until a furious final five seconds that saw the score change twice. Wallace got a reversal with five seconds left to move in front 3-2, but Bomar scrambled to take back control as the clock expired, handing Wallace a heart-breaking defeat.
“We had a good day,” Storm coach Russell Robinson said. “I feel like we could have done a little better team standings-wise but having a kid in the championship round is awesome, and Zachary wrestled a heck of a match.”
Lynden had two wrestlers reach the semifinals. Brody Weinheimer (182 pounds), who placed third, was the Lions’ top finisher, and Isaac Bueno (138) placed fourth.
“Brody has been sick for a while,” Lynden coach Alan Moore said. “He’s only physically wrestled three practices and one was a light day on a dual night. For him to come out, I don’t think it was a bad tournament for him.”
None of Sehome’s wrestlers reached the semis, but Briley Funk (285), Zach Zimmerman (195) and Kyle Clemenson (138) earned fifth-place finishes. Nooksack Valley’s top placer was Taylor Gardner, who placed fifth. Gardner bounced back nicely from a second-round loss to Bellefuille, earning three straight pins.
14th Annual Graham Morin Memorial Wrestling Tournament
Port Angeles 236.5, Ferndale 200.5, Snohomish 190, Oak Harbor 127, Ferndale 2 125, Bellingham 113.5, Squalicum 89.5, Cedarcrest 77, Lynden 63, Sehome 45, Port Townsend 43, Woodinville 42, Nooksack Valley 19