Ferndale’s wrestlers likely made school history by winning the Graham Morin Invitational after school was closed all week because of inclement weather.
The big risk in the Squalicum gym Saturday, Dec. 17, was taking a fall against a Ferndale wrestler. The Golden Eagles went 42-13 with 31 pins, more than twice as many as any of the other 16 teams except runner-up Marysville-Pilchuck, which had 20 pins and 172.5 points, far behind Ferndale’s 239.
“Keep the snow coming!” said Ferndale coach Caleb Schlack, who grew up in Minnesota. “I’m so proud and happy with everybody. Our kids fought hard. We were ninth at state (Class 3A) last year, and if we wrestle like we did today, I think we can finish in the top five. This title gives us the confidence we need.”
Ferndale’s Ben Broselle (195), Whatcom County’s only boys state champion last season, and fellow senior teammate Nate Slaton (220) won titles, along with Lynden sophomore Pablo Martinez (120).
“I tried new moves all day. Every match, I did something different,” said Broselle (4-0), who will play a match next month as a member of the national U19 rugby team. He never trailed and had three pins after a bye, including a pin against Stanwood’s Arie Van Veen in the final.
SLATON, MARTINEZ SHARP
“I’m very proud of what I’ve done this season,” said Slaton (10-4). “I feel so much more improved. I’ve never had a reversal and pin so fast. This is definitely one of my favorite matches. That guy (Nooksack Valley junior Luke Winter) is really good, really strong.”
Winter led 4-1 when Slaton scored a three-point reversal and first-round pin in a few seconds.
Martinez listed his record as 12-1 with eight pins after 15-0 and 14-4 decisions, followed by two pins, including an early birthday present – a title pin over Auburn’s Gage Oliver after Martinez built a 9-0 second-period lead. Martinez will turn 16 on Tuesday.
“I’m more happy than shocked,” said Martinez, who won his first title. “I thought that guy (Mitchell Martinez of Edmonds-Woodway) might beat me in the semifinals. He went to state last year.”
FOUR LOCALS ARE RUNNERS-UP
Ferndale senior Noah Saenz held national freestyle champion Riley Van Scoy, a Stanwood freshman, to a scoreless tie in the first period before Van Scoy’s second-period pin.
Bellingham senior Joseph Jefferson (9-1) had two pins and an 8-5 win, but Marysville-Pilchuck’s Keith Pablo pinned Jefferson in the second period. Winter was second at 220. Squalicum sophomore Dominick Mack (6-3) beat Nooksack senior Tyson Mergel 5-3 in the semifinals, but Mack suffered a first-round pin to Oak Harbor’s Sam Zook in the 285 final.
“I didn’t expect to be wrestling this well (this early) against seniors at this weight,” said Mack, who also claimed an injury default and a 1-0 win before his decision over Mergel, who placed eighth at 1A state last season. “I just put in all the work I could, and it’s paying off.”
AREA SEMIFINALIST COUNT AT 17
The other nine local semifinalists among 17 from the county included Squalicum juniors Brayden Charette (113), Jace Cooper (120) and Brian Pullman (195); Ferndale senior Pavel Kolbert (170) and juniors Broc Graves (126), Carson Trolinder (138) and Spencer Crosswhite (285); Bellingham sophomore Rorey Stevenson; and Nooksack senior Valentin Villalobos (132).
Ties for third place (because of the four-match limit) went to Sehome’s Elijah Marquez and Rem Schreyer (152); Squalicum’s Charette (113), Jaiden Bundy (120) and Pullman (195); and Ferndale’s Graves (126), Josh Cobelles (132), Trolinder (138), Jaden Schwartz (145), Jordan Cristelli (160), Kolbert (170), Alex Cleary (182) and Crosswhite (285); and Nooksack’s Mergel (285).
Squalicum finished ninth with 82 points, followed by Lynden (11th with 58.5), Sehome and Nooksack Valley (tied for 13th with 55) and Bellingham (16th with 47).