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Islanders get stretched out
Forfeits cost Mercer Island a big meet, win weekend tournament
By Matt Phelps
Mercer Island Reporter
One defection, one big injury and some tough matches led to an early-season loss for the Mercer Island High School wrestling team.
The 36-29 loss to Interlake leaves the notion of an Islander KingCo title in doubt.
“We have to practice harder and re-focus on Issaquah,” said Mercer Island coach Creighton Laughary.
The toughest part of the loss is that the team will not wrestle another in-league meet until they face the Eagles on Jan 3.
“We have had some great practices, and we’ve been training really well,” said Islander David Bowman. “But I guess we need to do better.”
The Islanders’ biggest losses of the night came via forfeit at 112 pounds and in the heavy weight division.
The two matches accounted for a 12-point swing on the scoreboard. Islander heavy weight Tanner Linton injured his knee during a recent practice but should return after winter break.
Despite the team loss, Mercer Island picked up many individual victories.
The meet began in dominating fashion for the home team. Islander James Kashima led his Interlake opponent 16-5 during the third round, earning the pin with just six seconds remaining in the 130-pound match.
Mercer Island’s Jackson Fischer also earned a victory in the final seconds with a late escape, 5-4, at 135 pounds.
A pin at 145 pounds slowed the Islander’s momentum. David Bowman, who was wrestling up two weight classes at 145 pounds, earned a 12-1 win.
“I felt for sure I had him pinned during the second round, but the ref didn’t,” said Bowman. “It was pretty difficult wrestling up that high. He was really strong compared to what I am used to.”
The Islanders lost their second match of the night at 152 pounds, but freshman Colton Knebel gave the Mercer Island fans a glimpse into the future.
In his first 3A KingCo wrestling meet, Knebel took a 5-2 lead during the first period and looked to have the match well in hand. Twenty-one seconds into the second period, the slap of the referee’s hand on the mat reverberated throughout the Islander gymnasuim as Knebel earned the first in-league pin of his career.
“It is really cool and a nice way to start out,” said Knebel, who has been wrestling for three years.
The pin gave Mercer Island a 10-point lead. But losses at 171, 189 and 215 left the Islanders reeling.
Mercer Island didn’t score again until the 103-pound match, when freshman Kyle Shanafelt earned a big 3-0 victory.
Mercer Island wrestlers earned victories on points during the Sun Kim’s (4-1) and Alex Faith’s (16-2) matches, but it was too late to save the team.
“We have been having great practices but we have to do better than this,” said Bowman. “We’ll have to work harder over break.”
One of those recent practices included training with UFC fighter Ivan Salaverry.
“One of the kid’s dads got him to come in, and they got to work on some Greco-Roman upper body wrestling,” said Laughary.
The Islanders got back on track Saturday by winning the Lynnwood Classic with 181 team points. Faith, Chris Pothoven and Shanafelt all brought home championships, while Bowman, Austin Frazier and Jake Frazier took second. Fischer and Kim took third, while Knebel and Graham Horgdal placed fourth.