Islanders defeat Totems in wrestling matchup

The Mercer Island wrestling team registered a convincing 69-6 victory against the Sammamish Totems in a battle of schools separated by a mere seven miles on Dec. 8.

The dual match, which featured just five matches on the evening due to a multitude of forfeits, was dominated by the Islanders grapplers. Mercer Island wrestlers winning by pin included Andrew Motz (126), Piljin Kwak (138) and Jonah Andrews (160). Kwak pinned Sammamish’s Julianna McKeehan in a mere 31 seconds. Andrews pinned Totems’ grappler Tyler Huffman with 43 seconds left in the third round in the final match of the night. Islanders’ first year wrestler Ennis Hanson, who is a senior, earned a 10-3 win against Totems’ wrestler Jace Johnson in the 132-pound division. Hanson trailed Johnson 2-1 at the end of the first round but dominated the final four minutes of the match en route to an emphatic victory.

“He wrestled a really nice match. He is growing quite a lot and is improving every single match, every single day. That is really encouraging to see,” Mercer Island head coach Lee Jahncke said.

Mercer Island grapplers winning courtesy of forfeits consisted of Teague Frazier (285), Russell Asmus (220), Connor Hill (195), Donnie Howard (182), Colin Farrell (170), Finn Childress (152), Eli Pruchno (120) and Jordan Tillinger (113). Sammamish’s lone victory of the night occurred when 145-pound grappler Tristan Stayner pinned Jack Harper in the second round. Jahncke, who is in his first season as head coach after being an assistant coach for the past 11 years, said his team is deep across the board of weight divisions this season.

“We cover almost all of the weights, which is nice. It is a luxury to be able to do that. Our team is a bit bigger this year than it has been in the past, which encourages me,” Jahncke said.

The Totems are on the opposite end of the spectrum in terms of its roster. Totems’ head coach AJ Ranjbaran said there are just eight wrestlers on the team this season. Ranjbaran, who is in his first season as the head coach after being an assistant for the past five seasons, said all members of his team are dedicated to the sport.

“We got a lot of work to do. Honestly, I really want the kids to have fun. We got a lot of new kids and I want them to enjoy the sport of wrestling. Wrestling is a sport that teaches life-long lessons. We do really enjoy working one-on-one with the wrestlers,” Ranjbaran said of the coaching staff. “The challenge we encounter is there isn’t enough numbers (eight wrestlers), which limits the variability within each wrestler to present new challenges.”

The first-year head coach is thrilled to be leading the Totems’ program.

“It is a lot more paperwork. I really like it,” Ranjbaran said with a smile. “I’m excited to change the paradigm and I’m looking at how to integrate more of a flow or sequence to help connect things together for the program.”

Jahncke believes the Islanders can challenge for the Class 3A KingCo regular season title. Last season, the Interlake Saints defeated the Islanders 36-32 to clinch the league title.

“We’re gunning for that KingCo title. That is a goal every single season for us,” Jahncke said. “There are always a couple of teams that are in the running every year that are very strong. It changes from year-to-year but we’re hoping to be one of those strong teams as the season continues.”

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