Red Wolves taste sweet success

If you hear a slight rumble out of the Lower Valley its for good reason. The Cedarcrest Red Wolves won its first ever KingCo championship. But this wasn't just a one-trophy affair, it took home both the duel-meet championship with a record of 9-0 and also the KingCo tournament championship, beating Liberty, 246-227.

In addition to the two team championships, Jeff Newcomer, first-year head coach of Cedarcrest, was named KingCo 3A wrestling coach of the year. In accepting the trophy for coach of the year, Newcomer was quick to point out his predecessor.

"I can't take all the credit for this team. It was all started by Josh Garcia, so he deserves a lot of the praise" said Newcomer.

But it was obvious to all who attended the league tournament, held at Liberty High School, just how important a championship was.

"This is something this school has been wanting for a long time," said Newcomer afterwards. Cedarcrest had never won a championship in KingCo 3A, so winning two was a great way to highlight a great season.

Three Red Wolves' wrestlers made their mark on the tournament by bringing home a championship for their individual weight classes. Aaron Pedeferri handily defeated Ryan Bamford 17-0 to win by technical fall. Then it was Adam Speir, who came in as an unseeded wrestler, and defeated Liberty's Scott Winslow, 8-6. Speir's match seemed to be the turning point for the Red Wolves hope at the team title.

"I was thinking it was just a normal match until afterward when wow, the team championship was on the line, then it hit me," said Speir.

Finally, Robby Westermann pinned Mercer Island's Grant Guidinger with 30 seconds to go in the second round.

In addition to the Cedarcrest success, three Mount Si wrestlers also took top honors in their respective weight classes. Jason Rothgeb, sporting bright red hair, started off the championship round for the Wildcats by defeating Leilania Akiyma of Newport 11-3 for a major decision. Then, team co-captain Eddie Roberts put on a show, pulling out a 9-4 decision over the Red Wolves' Andrew Claussen. Finally, sporting a singlet from the late '70's' and looking a bit like an actor from "That 70's show", Kyle Jacobsen pulled out an overtime win over Andrew Parker of Mercer Island, 3-1.

Prior to the final round the team scores had been inaccurate, causing a recount. Consequently, Newcomer didn't know how far his team was ahead, if at all. But as soon as second place was announced, Red Wolve' wrestlers were hooting and hollering with Newcomer beaming ear to ear.

"Right now it's hard to think straight," said Newcomer. "I didn't know what the point score was coming in. I am thrilled that they pulled it off," he continued. "They have earned it. They have been working since the middle- school program for this goal and they have never lost site of that goal. They were always focused. Every time we won a tournament, that following Monday it was back to business. They didn't stop and dwell on their success. They are going to wait until the end of the season to celebrate their achievements."

But all eyes were focused on Aaron Pedeferri who is on his way to a second state championship. His demeanor during the meet gave no indication of pressure, just focus. When asked if he was feeling any pressure he replied, "Not so much this week or next week, but for state, yes," said Pedeferri.

It was obvious, though, that Pedeferri was excited about his team.

"When Eric, (Aaron's brother) started, they were 0-9, then they went 4-5, now we are 9-0 and I can't believe it," touted Pedeferri. "We have a pretty solid team all the way through and our work ethic is intense," he continued.

When asked about his brother Eric and who might win the living-room wrestling bouts the younger Pedeferri replied, "He still has the upper hand. He has about 10-15 pounds on me. He can still put me away. He throws me around pretty good."

For Mount Si it was the first time in a while they were not one of the top two teams, but that didn't seem to phase the group of wrestlers. Each of the Wildcat's participating in the finals had already set their sights on the regional tournament to be held next weekend. Kyle Jacobsen was showing his style in the finals, wearing an old singlet from the '70's'.

"I found this in a cupboard," said Jacobsen. "I wanted to resurrect the white and wore it just for the finals," he continued.

Dylan Seubert also made it to the finals for Mount Si but didn't fare as well against Issaquah's John Boedecker, this time.

"His conditioning had improved and that illegal hold that I had hurt me," said Seubert. "If I hadn't gotten that, then it would have been over. He was a better wrestler today but I have next week to improve on that," he continued.

Other Cedarcrest wrestlers heading to the regional tournament are Conner Baker, who took fifth at 103-pounds; Stephen Gunderson, who took third at 103-pounds; Kurtis Lett, who took third at 125-pounds; Darren DeBoer, who took second, losing to Newport's Jimmy Akiyama in the 130-pound class; Tate Brammer, who took fifth at 135-pounds; Joe Carroll, as an alternate, taking sixth at 150-pounds; Cody Hudson, who took third at 140-pounds; Andrew Claussen, who lost to the Wildcat's Eddie Roberts in the finals at 145-pounds; Tony Stedman, who was knocked out due to a ligament tear and will go as an alternate at 145-pounds; Alan Shults, who took third at 152-pounds; Chris Ansell, who took sixth at 189-pounds and will go as an alternate; Cole Birk, who took fourth at 215-pounds; Vong Ly, who took third at 275-pounds.

Mount Si has several wrestlers traveling to the Regional tournament. Alex Haas, who lost to Mercer Island's Rusty Johnson in the finals, will go at 112-pounds; Jordan Prior, who took fourth in the 119-pound class; Nick Martindale, who took third at 135-pounds; Chris Ippolito, who took fifth at 140-pounds; and Cory Anderson, who took fifth at 275-pounds.

The regional tournament will be held at Liberty High School Friday and Saturday, Feb. 8 & 9. Cedarcrest has a good chance of taking the regional crown as well.

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