Islander Middle School wrestlers grab league championship

Eight individuals notch titles.

With eight individual champions and an abundance of total team points, the Islander Middle School (IMS) wrestling squad firmly grasped the Triangle League championship crown on Dec. 13.

Five teams competed for the title and IMS blasted to the top of the table with 426.5 points, leaving its closest competitors Twin Falls and Snoqualmie 199 points and 199.5 points behind in second and third places, respectively. IMS had 13 wrestlers in the finals, 24 placers and 45 pins on the night.

IMS champions were: Elias Sanchez-Delarm (72 pounds), Chris Mims (90), Balen McCarthy (95), EJ Maligaya (100), Timmy Roche (105), Jonah Gonder (110), Emerson Woods (120) and Ara Bundesmann (154). Woods and Bundesmann were the team’s two girls champs and they grappled against boys for their titles and achieved all pins throughout the tourney. JV wrestlers Mims and Maligaya notched titles in their first year on the mat.

Ryan Hoisington has been the IMS head coach for the last 19 years and said this is one of his best teams ever. With 35 boys and five girls representing the team, IMS went 4-0 in dual meets and then dominated the league tourney. IMS majorly turned things around from last year — the first season back from COVID — when the team sported just 16 members, lost every dual meet and finished last in the league tourney.

Hoisington said he was proud witnessing IMS rebound this year with an elevation to the top of the standings.

“I love seeing the kids grow and just try to coach great humans as well as wrestlers and bringing the team together and then cheering each other on. Just building that team spirit and continuity,” said the coach, whose teams have won a multitude of league championships during his tenure.

With solid assistant coaches Luis Sanchez, Cody Layton, Todd Woods and Joel Mezistrano on board, Hoisington said they made an immense difference with the team’s stellar results this time out.

Leading the way in the team realm were eighth-grade captains and individual league victors McCarthy, Woods and Gonder.

McCarthy explained that his captain’s job was helping to keep wrestlers focused, warming them up before competitions and lending a hand with coaching them during matches.

Woods said that she worked on implementing team togetherness and encouraging everyone to help each other improve their skills.

Hard work, friendship and unity were ever-present in the practice room, which “created an environment to build everyone up so a lot of people had success,” Woods added.

On the success front, McCarthy said that double leg shots and half nelsons for pins were moves that he relied on this season.

“I was just focused and just hitting my moves and just knowing that I can do this and win it if I just don’t get distracted or like cocky or anything,” McCarthy said.

To gain an edge during matches, Woods utilized ankle picks, scrambling if she got behind and never gave up.

Woods elaborated: “I think just focusing on my technique and just working on the stuff that I already know and that I was confident in.”