Wrestlers build a legacy for Highlanders
March 4, 2011
By Alysha Alibhai
Team wins Seamount title with victory over Renton
The Hazen High School wrestling team won its first Seamount League championship in more than a decade last month, a victory that came from defeating Renton on Jan. 27.
“We had lost to Renton [last year] and I knew that they were going to be tough,” said head coach Rory Magana. “The championship match was a crazy back-and-forth battle.”
Magana has been coaching at Hazen for the past two years and is proud of the team’s recent success, he said, especially since they struggled to fill all weight classes this year.
Magana said the wrestlers “knew that we had a job to do and they went out there and took care of business.”
The win was well-deserved, said sophomore Tyler Watanabe, who was able to win his match in the last second, and attributes the team’s success to its strong work ethic.
“The amount of energy everybody puts into practice and their hard work reflects onto our meets,” he said.
The meet against Renton was an example of a strong team effort, Magana said.
“I knew that there were some underdog matches that we would have to pull off in order to win,” he said. “We had so many kids step up that night. If it weren’t for the wrestlers who gutted it out for tough wins, we wouldn’t have beat Renton.”
Senior wrestler Jonathan Greer said he was among “several athletes who overcame obstacles to win their match and help the team succeed.” Greer was recovering from an injury and cut off his cast three weeks early in order to wrestle his match that day.
Hazen wrestlers knew that the Renton match was going to be close, sophomore wrestler Jeremy Hazlett said.
“We knew that we needed to get pins from our key guys,” he said, “and coach needed me to step up and get a win.”
Hazlett has been wrestling for two years and won a key match against a wrestler whom he had lost to the weekend before, Magana said.
The league title win was a great source of pride for the wrestlers and their parents, but wrestling is not as popular as other sports at Hazen, according to Hazlett.
“Hopefully, we can build a strong tradition at Hazen,” Magana said. “We want more kids to come out and be part of our team.”
Hazen is building a legitimate winning wrestling program, said Greer, which will help Hazen create an even stronger team for next year.
“We are building a legacy for Hazen wrestling,” Hazlett said. “The next steps are to win more tournaments and do well at state,” he said.
Hazen’s success didn’t end with the Seamount championship. The team went on to compete in subsequent tournaments.
Since their win against Renton, Magana said, Hazen qualified 12 wrestlers for the WIAA 3A Region II championship, where they placed fourth.
From their performance at the regional tournament, they qualified five wrestlers to compete in the state championship at the Tacoma Dome on Feb. 19 and 20.
“Coach tells us over and over and over and over again,” Hazlett said, “in tournaments we need to just wrestle our match and keep the tempo up.”
That is the mantra Hazen wrestlers will use to continue building a legacy.
Alysha Alibhai is a student in the University of Washington Department of Communication News Laboratory.
State tourney results
- Freshman Josh Kluth (103-pound weight class), sophomore Derek Coburn (112), junior Austin Clark (130) and sophomore Daniel Karpman (135) each lost his first two matches and was eliminated.
- Senior Kyle Ely (189) dropped his first match but won his second, earning the team three points. However, he lost his third match and was eliminated as well.