Faith, Pothoven first, team takes second at KingCo
By Matt Phelps
Mercer Island Reporter
The nightmare that was the first day of the 3A KingCo wrestling tournament for Mercer Island did not deter the most experienced on the team.
Islander seniors Alex Faith and Chris Pothoven, who both have multiple KingCo titles in their respective weight classes, won again and helped boost the team to a second-place finish overall.
“I think yesterday was an aberation,” said Creighton Laughary, who was named coach of the year. “We have such great leadership from our seniors.” Lee Jahncke was named assistant coach of the year.
Faith and Pothoven made winning a title look easy. Faith’s road consisted of a first-round bye, second-round pin in 43 seconds and an 11-4 semifinal victory. The championship was all Faith as he dominated his Interlake opponent for a 16-0 win at 125 pounds.
“It was nice to only have one match on Friday. I was fresh today,” said Faith, after winning his third league title. “This is icing on the cake. Not many people do it once.”
For Pothoven, the road was one of redemption. A first-round bye and pin during the final seconds of the second period and the second round of the tournament, set up a rematch against one of the only wrestlers to defeat him during the regular season.
“He beat me 5-4, so to come away with a decisive win was nice,” said Pothoven, who won the third-round match, 11-4. “I knew I would have two tough matches, and I had to win both.”
Pothoven took the 215-pound title as his opponent from Bellevue was disqualified for multiple infractions during the match.
Islander junior Graham Horgdal was the only other wrestler to compete in a championship final. Horgdal earned a 13-2 win and a pin at the 3:05 mark of his semifinal match. But Horgdal’s finals match pits him against a tough Interlake opponent.
“He has had good competition in [practice],” said Laughary. “He really wanted it this year, and he was giving up 10 pounds to most of his opponents this year.”
Horgdal fought through all three rounds but eventually lost 8-5 to place second overall at 189 pounds.
“Originally, I was really disappointed and surprised by how yesterday went, but today was fantastic,” said Horgdal.
During the first day of the tournament, 13 of the Islanders’ 20 wrestlers lost during their first match and were eliminated from championship considerations. But many recovered to qualify for districts.
Islander freshman Kyle Shanafelt finished third overall after losing his first match at 103 pounds. Jackson Fischer also lost his first match of the tournament but recovered to qualify for the district meet with a fourth-place finish.
Islander David Bowman won his first match, 17-0, but lost during the semifinals, 8-6. Bowman finished third overall to advance to districts.
Mercer Island senior Tanner Linton only lost one match during the tournament but finished third overall in the heavyweight division to advance to districts.
For the second consecutive year, Austin Frazier took fifth place at 152 pounds, good enough for an alternate spot to districts. Islander Sam Bliss also earned an alternate spot to districts with a fifth-place finish in the 171-pound weight class.
“This team is so exceptional that I want the world for them,” said Laughary. “But second is nothing to sneeze at.”