WRESTLING PREVIEW: District loaded with tons of individual talent

Decatur High School junior Nick Karis finished up in sixth place at last year
Decatur High School junior Nick Karis finished up in sixth place at last year's Class 3A State Wrestling Championships inside the Tacoma Dome at 160 pounds.
— image credit: Casey Olson/The Mirror

Todd Beamer Titans

Coach: Brett Lucas

Last year’s record: 5-3 SPSL South

Strong returners: Sr. Ares Carpio (132 pounds); Sr. Deshar House (145); Sr. Tre Uson (120); Sr. Aron Set-Heit (138); Jr. Lance Gibson (160); Sr. Kristoph Ricketts (182); Soph. Brett Dykman (113).

Top newcomers: Fr. Jordan Rhodes (106); Fr. Carlos Castro; Fr. Arian Carpio (girl); Fr. Venessa Dixon (girl).


Thomas Jefferson Raiders

Coach: Jess Workman (ninth year)

Last year’s record: 0-8-1 SPSL North

Strong returners: Sr. K.W. Williams (195); Jr. Jake Polsak (152); Michael Roybal (113); Sr. Chad George (152); Jr. Geoff Lucas (152/160); Jr. Michael Burt (220); Sr. Chris Johnson (145).

Top newcomers: Fr. Kiel Hicks (113); Jr. Kevin Wolfrom (138); Soph. Efren Delvalle (160); Soph. Jorge Duran (138/145).


Decatur Gators

Coach: Mike Bressler (15th year)

Last year’s record: 7-2 SPSL 3A

Strong returners: Tristen Dawson (113 pounds); Drew Dasher (120); Keoni Aparis (126); Nick Lindholm (132); TJ Barndt (145); Brandon Zimmerman (152); Nick Karis (160); Rowland Gaydosh (170); Cody Vanderlin (170); Spencer Smith (182); James Bagley (220); Kyle Gleed (285).

Top newcomers: None listed.


Federal Way Eagles

Coach: Travis Mango

Last year’s record: 3-5 SPSL South

Strong returners: Boys — Sr. Anthony Pena (113 pounds); Sr. Jessy Leifi (285). Girls — Jr. Kim Mored (106/112); Jr. Bianca Arizpe (112); Sr. Victoria Pena (118); Jessica Cabanada (17); Jr. Jacklyn Baules (170).

Top newcomers: None listed


Todd Beamer Titans

The Todd Beamer Titans are loaded this season with a huge amount of talent returning for head coach Brett Lucas. Included in that group is plenty of seniors with state tournament experience.

Beamer enters the year with big expectations and is ranked No. 9 in one preseason poll.

Leading the list of returners is senior Ares Carpio, who finished third at state last year at 125 pounds after winning the 119-pound state championship as a sophomore.

“We have a solid group of seniors that will get it done this year at the state tournament,” said Lucas.

Other state tournament veterans back for the Titans include seniors Deshar House (130), Tre Uson (119) and Aron Set-Heit (135), junior Lance Gibson (145) and sophomore Brett Dykman (112). Uson ended up in eighth place at the state championships.

Despite being loaded at the lower weights, Lucas and the Titans will need to get better at the heavier weights to contend for the SPSL South Division regular season title.

Freshmen newcomers Jordan Rhodes and Carlos Castro, along with senior Kristoph Ricketts and junior Ishaia Belle should provide depth.

Lucas also has two talented freshmen girls this season in Arian Carpio and Venessa Dixon.

The Titans opened the SPSL South season with a win over Emerald Ridge, and will host Puyallup on Dec. 14.

Thomas Jefferson Raiders

The Raiders wrestle in the best league in the state and it showed last year during the regular season. Jefferson finished without a win during the SPSL North season.

But the wars during the regular season paid off in the postseason when the Raiders placed a pair of wrestlers in championship bouts at the Mat Classic state championships inside the Tacoma Dome. Then-senior Zeke Nistrian eventually won the 152-pound state title.

Leading the list of returners is senior K.W. Williams. Last season, Williams lost in the 189-pound title match in Tacoma and returns as the Class 4A state favorite. Williams is hoping the add to his impressive senior year after leading the TJ football team to the postseason for the first time in school history as the team’s quarterback. Williams will wrestle at 195 pounds this season.

“We are full of juniors with a couple of seniors,” said head coach Jess Workman. “We will hopefully have three or four state competitors with one returning as the state runner-up from last year at 195.”

Also back for the Raiders are returning regional participant Michael Roybal at 113 pounds, Jake Polsak (152), Chad George (152), Geoff Lucas (152/160), Michael Burt (220) and Chris Johnson (145).

Newcomers like Kevin Wolfrom (138), Efren Delvalle (160), Jorge Duran (138/145) and freshman Kiel Hicks (113) should also score points for TJ.

“We have great team unity and we’ll do better at tournaments,” Workman said. “We have a great support system from fans and parents.”

The Raiders opened their SPSL North season at Kent-Meridian Wednesday and travel to Auburn on Dec. 14.


Decatur Gators

The Gators return a load of talented wrestlers from a team that finished 7-2 in the rugged SPSL 3A Division.

Longtime head coach Mike Bressler brings back three juniors who all qualified for the state tournament a season ago in Nick Karis, Rowland Gaydosh and Kyle Gleed.

Karis, a 160-pounder, brought home a sixth-place medal from the Tacoma Dome as a sophomore in the always-tough bracket. He advanced into the semifinals before losing. Karis was beaten by Everett’s Connor Boyce in the semifinals in a 6-5 decision. Boyce eventually lost to Enumclaw’s Kario Wallin in the championship.

Fellow sophomores Gaydosh and Gleed both failed to place in their first Mat Classics. Gaydosh, a 171-pounder, won his opening match by fall over O’Dea’s JJ Thornes, before losing his next two matches.

The 285-pound Gleed lost his opener before earning one of the quickest pins of the weekend over Highline’s DeWayne Perry in just 16 seconds. But Gleed lost his next match at state.

Also returning for Decatur will be Tristen Dawson (113), Drew Dasher (120), Keoni Aparis (126), Nick Lindholm (132), TJ Barndt (145), Brandon Zimmerman (152), Cody Vanderlin (170), Spencer Smith (182) and James Bagley (220).

“Lots of hard work will determine success,” Bressler. “The team is young, scrappy and determined. This is a hard-working group of kids who say they would like to leave a mark.”

Federal Way Eagles

The Eagles finished 3-5 in the SPSL South a season ago and qualified one boy for the state tournament.

But Federal Way made its mark last season with its girls’ team. The Eagle girls finished up in fifth place at the state tournament.

Returning for head coach Travis Mango will be seniors Victoria Pena (112) and Axa Molina (118), along with juniors Bianca Arizpe (112), Kim Mored (106/112), Jessica Cabanada (170) and Jacklyn Baules (170).

Arizpe finished in fourth-place at state last season and Molina earned a seventh-place medal. Pena also wrestled at state.

On the boys’ side, Federal Way lost last year’s lone state qualifier, Joseph Coronell, to graduation. But Mango brings back seniors Anthony Pena and Jessy Leifi, who both have a chance at wrestling in the Tacoma Dome. Pena is a 113-pounder and Leifi wrestles at 285.


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