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'Cats look to repeat as KingCo champs

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Another wrestling season is set to gear up for last year KingCo

champs, the Mount Si Wildcats, and this season looks to be even better as all

but one of their KingCo tournament placers returns for another shot at the title.

With this year's start is a makeover of the KingCo weight classes.

Starting at 103 pounds and going up to heavy, the classes are as follows:

103, 112, 119, 125, 130, 135, 140, 145, 152, 160, 171, 189, 215 and heavy.

Taking the helm for his eleventh season this year is head coach

Bruce Caldwell, along with assistant Mike Johnson. Although not acting too

confident, the longtime coach knows his team has strength.

"We're in contention for sure this year but Liberty and Mercer

Island will also be right up there," touts Caldwell. "It will be a tough year."

But, to ease his mind, Caldwell has a whole team of talent, starting

with last year's second in state, Ben Veyna. Veyna tackled competitors in the

122-pound class in last season's competition but this year he will be

stepping up to compete at the 125- or 130-pound classes.

Veyna, a junior, lost to Capital's Steve McGetrick in the finals at

state 4-0, but not before inflicting some serious pain on all his opponents in

the 122-pound class, both at the KingCo tournament and regionals.

Also competing at state last year and showing incredible strength

was Chad Mills. Mills, a junior, wrestled in the 115-pound class last year,

making it to the state tournament by defeating Matt Malyon of

Franklin Pierce but losing to the eventual state champ, Burke Barnes of Lake

Stevens. Mills will be wrestling in the 125-pound class.

The last Wildcat to make it as far as the state tournament is

Blake Moore, who finished third in the KingCo tournament last year in

the 129-pound class. Moore should be competing in the 135- pound class

this year, but one year of age has brought maturity and strength to the

talented junior.

But three state wrestlers isn't all that the Wildcats have in their

arsenal. Also in the hunt this year for state placing are 12 KingCo placers

from last year.

Starting the field at 112-pounds will be Senior Andrew

Ahmadi. Ahmadi took third in the 108-pound class last year at KingCo. His

experience and his weight class should give him the edge to finish well this

season.

Jason Moe will be returning in the 119-pound class. Jeff Stone will

also be returning, in the 130- or 135-pound class. Last year, Stone finished

fourth in the 122-pound class. The biggest obstacle this year will be his

own teammates with Mills, Veyna and Moore competing in the 125- to

135-pound classes.

David Crotts, who last year competed in the 129-pound class and

finished fifth in KingCo, will be competing at the 140-pound class.

Crotts could be the sleeper in the Mount Si lineup, not as well known as some

of the more experienced competitors but strong and smart. His weight gain

in the off-season appears to be primarily muscle, which should give him

that extra edge.

Also bulking up in the off-season was Ryan Smith who finished

fourth in the 141-pound class last year. This year he will likely have more

competition on his own team then anywhere else in KingCo as veterans

Payton Thompson and Hiram Tame will also be around the same 145- or

152-pound weight classes. However, Hiram will be the only Tame brother

competing this year, as sibling Kevin graduated. At last year's KingCo tournament,

the younger Tame took fifth in the 141-pound class.

For the new 152-pound class look for veteran athlete Matt Murphy

to take the reigns. Murphy took fourth in the 148-pound class last year at

the KingCo tournament.

The next placer to hit the ranks this year is Brad "Grumpy" Davis who

last year thrashed opponents left and right as a sophomore. Davis, who

finished third in the 178-pound class at the KingCo tournament last year,

will wrestle at 189 pounds this year and his glare alone is likely to scare a

few wrestlers.

In the 215-pound class, two veterans will compete for the varsity

position. Senior Brandon Prior and sophomore Dylan Seubert will compete at

a higher level in challenge matches for the varsity spot each week than

many of their regular season matches. Prior finished fifth in the 215-pound

class last year at the KingCo tournament while Dylan Seubert, then a

freshman, finished third in the 275-pound class. One year has made a tremendous

difference in Seubert's physique as the bruiser has slimmed down and

toned up on a heavy lifting regiment. Look for both to place high in the

KingCo tournament and travel to regionals at Ellensburg.

Rounding out the list of veterans will be Sean Sexton, who took

fourth in the 190-pound class last year. This year he will compete in the

275-pound class.

Other wrestlers likely to join the varsity ranks this year are Jordan

Prior, Brandon's brother, in the 103-pound class; Jed McDaniels at the

160-pound class; Bob Taylor and Nick Ippillito in the 171-pound class; and

Brad Conner in the 275-pound class. Jacob Ruth, who took fifth in the

KingCo tournament last year despite injuries will also see a lot of action this year.

And the action starts on Saturday, Dec. 4, as Mount Si hosts the

David Szczepanik Takedown Tournament. Competition starts at 7 a.m. in

the Mount Si gym.

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