January 1, 2013
Just a day before competing in last year’s Mat Classic, Liberty High School wrestler Joanna Moreira stood high up in the rafters of the Tacoma Dome and stared down at the 12 perfectly placed mats laid across the floor.
December 11, 2012
In a match Dec. 6 where there were just as many pins as decision wins and even more forfeits, the Skyline High School Spartans beat the Eastlake Wolves, 40-30.
“We brought some intensity. Eastlake stepped up,” Skyline coach Gus Kiss said. “Our kids still had to step up and we did.”
The Spartans gave up 24 points in forfeits at 170, 180 and the top two heavyweights, but received one forfeit at 106.
Skyline racked up three pins, all within the first period of the match. In the 113 weight class, Nathan Swanson won in 1 minute, 32 seconds. At 120, Kody Nguyen pinned his opponent in 31 seconds.
November 27, 2012
With 32 athletes already signed up and several returning state qualifiers, the Skyline High School wrestling team is hopeful as it continues to hunt for a heavyweight competitor to complete the lineup.
“We are strongly optimistic. We have a good bunch of returning young men and we have some good athletes that are turning out,” coach Gus Kiss said.
The Skyline Spartans finished 7-3 last year in KingCo dual meets and qualified four wrestlers for the State Mat Classic, including Kara Alden. The team’s only female went on to become the team’s top finisher after taking sixth place in the 145-pound girls division. She returns this year as a junior.
November 27, 2012
The uniform will say Liberty, but for the 2012-2013 wrestling season, the Patriot wrestlers will have to call Maywood Middle School home due to construction going on at Liberty High School.
It’s been an adjustment for the squad, Liberty coach Manny Brown said. The team practices at Maywood but must wait to use the wrestling mats until the middle school team is done.
“Since Liberty is in construction mode, we will have all of our home matches over at Maywood Middle School,” he said. “It’s worked out well for us, but we still miss being home at Liberty High School.”
Despite the inconvenience, Brown said the team is excited and eager to build upon its fourth-place finish at last year’s KingCo 3A Conference championships.
November 27, 2012
As another Issaquah High School wrestling campaign gets under way, there can be little doubt that if any group of mat men has a head start on the rest of the conference, it would have to be the guys in the purple-and-gold grappling gear.
The Eagles began the season with 32 young men vying for starting spots in the varsity lineup, 17 of which are returning lettermen. The Eagles swing back into wrestling filled with confidence, after forging a 9-1 league mark in 2011-12, as well as wrapping up the KingCo 4A title and taking a half-dozen wrestlers to state a year ago.
One of the six wrestlers representing the IHS banner at the state tourney was 285-pound heavyweight Jonathan Norris, who took sixth in state as a junior.
Eagle wrestling coach Kirk Hyatt said Norris provides an enthralling example of what can happen, if you keep your nose to the grindstone in your training endeavors and never leave anything out on the mat.
On the other end of the spectrum for Issaquah is featherweight freshman Steven Solusod, who has at least been penciled in as the 106-pound selection for the Eagles. The wrestlers have not been assessed or certified yet, though, so little else is certain, according to Hyatt, an Eagle alum in his 17th season as the main mat mentor at IHS.
June 5, 2012
For Skyline High School sophomore Kara Alden, it’s not that she’s a girl participating in a sport dominated by guys or that she’s the only female on a male wrestling team. Rather, it’s the fact that her desire to compete and her passion for the sport have allowed her to succeed despite a lack of experience and physical disadvantages.
“Wrestling guys is harder as a girl since we don’t have as much muscle mass as they do,” Kara said. “You have to have really perfected technique to do well against a guy.”
On a daily basis and throughout the season, she faces adversity in the form of her male opponents. At practice and during dual meets, her options are often limited to wrestling just guys, unless it’s the postseason.
But for Kara, the option to wrestle both guys and girls presents a unique catch-22. Facing girls means a higher probability of winning. Wrestling guys, however, is where she can gain the most experience and learn technical moves she wouldn’t otherwise be afforded.
February 21, 2012
When the last chapter closed on the 2012 Mat Classic, all it said about Hamilton Noel’s performance was that the Liberty High School senior finished sixth in the 160-pound division at the Class 3A Tournament.
Not a word about his heart, of which he displayed plenty in the Tacoma Dome. Not a comma about his tears, of which there were also a few. Not a period about how he stepped on the mat weakened by an unspecified ailment that made him look almost nothing like the Noel that dominated at Regionals.
At the end, the fact that Mercer Island’s Blake Johnson, the wrestler who won 160-pound state title was the same Noel defeated at the regional finals seven days earlier, seemed to do nothing but add insult to an already injured warrior.
February 14, 2012
Hamilton Noel said he knows what is at stake.
The Liberty High School senior qualified for the state wrestling tournament again by winning the Class 3A Region 1 160-pound title Feb. 11 at Skyline High School.
On Feb. 17 and 18 in the Tacoma Dome, Noel will go for his third, and last, shot at a state crown. He will graduate in June and said he knows time is running out.
In 2010, then-145-pounder Noel lost to Olympic High School’s Brandon Yeik, 13-7, in the state finals.
In 2011, 152-pounder Noel lost to Enumclaw’s Josh Musick, 6-2, in the state finals.
Now at 160, he punched his ticket for the Mat Classic by beating No.2 Mercer Island’s Blake Johnson, in a 3-2 thriller.
“Blake is ranked No. 2,” Noel said. “I’ll probably see him again this year.”
February 7, 2012
Issaquah High School wrestling coach Kirk Hyatt had a hunch entering this season that his team had championship talent.
January 31, 2012
The Liberty High School wrestling team tried but could not overcome Mount Si, losing 54-21 Jan. 28 at Bellevue High School.
Both teams, along with Mercer Island and Sammamish, went to Bellevue to make up KingCo Conference 3A/2A matches the mid-January snowstorm had postponed.
“I don’t think it’s ever helpful,” Patriots assistant coach Wright Noel said of the time away from the mat. “It takes a while to get the kids back in it after they have done nothing for a week. But all the schools have had to deal with the same issues.”
The delay caused the Liberty upperclassmen to not have a Senior Night, he said.
“That’s always tough on our seniors,” he said.
The squad that showed up on Wolverine Way to grapple with Mount Si was not a full-force band of Patriots, as evidenced by the four forfeits that gave the Wildcats 24 points. Liberty forfeited at 285, 195, 113 and 106 pounds.
“And we have a couple of kids injured, so that hurt,” Noel said. “But Mount Si did a good job.”