A high-energy wrestler, Joe Hutchison spent much of the fall running with the Sequim High varsity cross country team, hoping the conditioning would pay off late in the season.
Looks like he's ahead of the curve.
The 135-pounder swept through the 135-pound weight division with ease last weekend, joining teammate Ethan Hinton (189 pounds) as individual champions at Sequim's own Rainshadow Tournament Jan. 2-3.
Along with two other finalists - Taylor Gowdy at 125 pounds and Nick Grinnell at 130 pounds - Sequim racked up 144 team points, good for second place out of 17 teams, their best finish at their home tourney since 2000, when they won the third Rainshadow event.
"Our kids came to wrestle," Sequim coach Len Borchers said. "Our guys that we expected to do well did and everyone else contributed."
Hutchison, who took sixth at the class 2A state tourney last season, pinned West Seattle's Delano Jordan to open the tournament and then put Mount Rainier's Eric Bredberg to the mat in 70 seconds in the semifinal. In the championship, Hutchison gave up just one reversal late in a dominating, 12-2 win against Kentridge's Dillon Serr. Hutchison now has back-to-back tournament trophies after winning that tourney's Outstanding Wrestler award on Dec. 27.
"(The tourney) was pretty good; I got a couple of quick pins," said Hutchison, who noted he's got his eyes on one thing this season: a class 2A state title.
Hinton, who placed eighth at the state tourney in 2008, repeated as Rainshadow Tournament champion with a pair of pins against Port Angeles wrestlers, a 10-0 win against Bainbridge's Mason Remy in the semifinals and a second-round pin of Port Townsend's Gatlin Hanna in the finals.
"Toward the beginning of the season I wasn't in the right rhythm," Hinton said after the tourney. "I'm feeling better now. My goal is to do as well as I can, just work hard and get as much mat time as possible."
Gowdy, a two-time state tournament qualifier now ranked ninth in the state, pinned North Kitsap's Don Stamaris and topped Conor McCarthy of West Seattle 9-2 to earn a 125-pound division finals berth, where Cedarcrest's J.D. Gorman was simply too tough; Gowdy fell 6-2 and took second place.
Grinnell, a former state tournament grappler, earned a nail-biting, 9-8 decision against William Triquero of Mount Rainier in the semifinals to take on Olympic's Jesse Borcherding in the 130-pound division finale, where Grinnell was injured (see box).
In the heavyweight division, Sequim senior Thomas Gallagher went 2-2 and finished in fourth place. A match-up with Port Angeles' John Camp never materialized as Gallagher fell to Mount Si's Ryan Ransavage in the semifinals. The two may face each other this week, however, when the Wolves host the Roughriders on Jan. 8.
Wrestling in perhaps the toughest of all weight classes was Anthony Drabek, Sequim's 140-pound entry. The senior, wrestling in just his second tourney of the season, went 3-3 and finished sixth, falling in his three matches to highly-touted Adam Raemer of Port Angeles, Eli Narte of Bainbridge and Ryan Makela of Mount Si by a total of nine points.
At 112 pounds, freshman Austin Middleton went 4-2 with a pin to finish fifth overall, his only losses coming to overall champ Nick Aliment of Kentridge and third-place finisher Austin Wright of Peninsula.
Fellow freshman Zak Huisman was 2-2 in the 103-pound weight class, just missing the medal stand.
"Being here, in front of the hometown crowd helps," Borchers said. "The kids are starting to put it together."
Kentridge (155.5 points), a 4A school, won the team title while Olympic took third with 134 points. Cedarcrest was fourth with 129 points while Port Angeles and Mount Rainier tied for fifth with 120 points. Port Townsend was seventh with 95 points.
Sequim is back in action Thursday evening against the Roughriders at home; the match begins at 7 p.m. Although
Sequim consistently has outscored Port Angeles in tournament action in 2008-2009, the Roughriders hold a slight advantage in dual meet action.
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