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Wrestling: Decatur trio, several others, shooting for state championships
The wrestling room at Decatur High School has seen its fair share of battles during head coach Mike Bressler’s 14 years at the helm.
Bressler has coached his Gator wrestlers to numerous individual state championships and even won back-to-back titles himself at Evergreen High School.
But this year might be the strongest group of wrestlers, from top to bottom, that Bressler has ever had at Decatur. The Gators are led by three juniors — Nick Karis, Rowland Gaydosh and Kyle Gleed. The trio is a combined 89-10 on the season and all three won titles last weekend at the South Puget Sound League 3A Tournament.
“They’ve been a pretty good group,” Bressler said. “They bang heads in practice.”
Karis (160 pounds) and Gaydosh (170) wrestle in back-to-back weight classifications, meaning they go after one another every day in practice and have been doing so for the last six years.
“We get pissed at each other sometimes,” Karis said with a smile.
The pair both started wrestling at Lakota Middle School in the sixth grade and have excelled ever since. As a sophomore, Karis finished up in sixth place at the 2011 Mat Classic State Wrestling Meet inside the Tacoma Dome. Gaydosh didn’t place a season ago, but got some much-needed experience under the lights.
“Wrestling Rowland helps me because he’s really strong,” Karis said. “He’s the strongest guy I wrestle. I help him more with his technique. Wrestling each other makes us tougher.”
Karis is 30-6 this season in one of the toughest weight classes in the state. He has won several tournament titles this season, including the coveted SPSL Tournament during the Christmas break.
But, to illustrate how tough the 3A 160-pound bracket is, Karis is the fifth-ranked in the classification by washingtonwrestlingreport.com.
Gaydosh, who is an ultra-impressive 28-1 on the season, is hoping to improve on last year’s performance at the Mat Classic, where he finished 1-2. Gaydosh’s only loss came to Bonney Lake’s Jake Lueders during the regular season, who he has beaten twice since.
“The first time I went out there, I was kind of in awe about how it it was,” Gaydosh said about the Mat Classic in the Tacoma Dome. “I’m now used to it. I just have to get used to different styles and techniques. That will make me even better.”
Gleed is in somewhat of a different situation than his teammates. The heavyweight didn’t start wrestling until his freshman year at Decatur and really didn’t take the sport seriously until this season. The payoff has been a 31-3 record and numerous tournament titles.
“He’s hit the weight room and lifts with me,” Bressler said about the 6-foot-3, 275-pound Gleed. “He has realized that he can wrestle with these guys. He made a commitment.”
Despite being new to the sport of wrestling, Gleed still qualified for the state tournament a season ago. He finished 1-2 at the Mat Classic, including a 17-2 loss to Mount Si’s Josh Mitchell in the opening round. Mitchell went on to win the state title and is the prohibitive favorite this year. Gleed is the fourth-ranked 3A heavyweight in the washingtonwrestlingreport.com rankings.
“That’s a big step being there once,” Bressler said. “I’ve only had one kid get there for the first time and doing well and that was (Tevyn) Tillman. But nothing bothered that kid.”
Tillman won back-to-back state championships in the heavyweight class in 2008 and ‘09.
“Gleed has been really surprising,” Karis said. “I think he had a losing record as a freshman. When he was a sophomore, he started surprising everyone on the team. He has gotten a lot better and he’s coming back and beating kids he had lost to earlier. He has just been working hard everyday.”
The three Decatur juniors are also using the unfortunate death of classmate Robert “Hurricane” Harris as a motivation. Harris drowned in Lake Tapps in September. Last year, Harris narrowly missed qualifying for the Mat Classic state wrestling tournament after finishing in fourth place at the South Puget Sound League 3A Sub-regional wrestling tournament at 130 pounds.
“It was a big motivation for me,” Gaydosh said of Harris’ death. “We were pretty good friends. It pushes me to work harder to become the best in the state.”
“He was the hardest worker, for sure,” Karis said. “He made us a lot tougher. When I think of him, it pushes me to work harder.”
Karis, Gaydosh and Gleed aren’t the only talented wrestlers at Decatur. Senior 126-pound Nick Lindholm also won an SPSL 3A Sub-district championship last weekend and is 29-6 on the season.
“He is having a great year, only losing to some very good wrestlers,” Bressler said. “He has a great chance of placing high at state.”
Individually, the Gators will have to “earn” their way to the 2012 Mat Classic, which is scheduled for Feb. 17-18. Decatur will be a part of the Region III Tournament Friday and Saturday at Bonney Lake.
The tournament includes wrestlers from the SPSL 3A, Narrows and the Greater St. Helens leagues. The three leagues just happen to have the top-five ranked teams in the Class 3A — Yelm, Enumclaw, Bonney Lake, Kelso and Decatur. The top-five finishers in each 12-man weight class will qualify for the Mat Classic.
“If we have six or seven kids get to state, that would be nice,” Bressler said. “We’ll see. You are going to have to earn your way in.”
Other Federal Way wrestlers with impressive resumes heading into regionals:
Arian Carpio, Beamer
The Beamer freshman is 31-0 on the season and the top-ranked 106-pounder in girls wrestling. Last year, she was the first female in Federal Way to win a middle school district championship against the boys. Carpio also won the USA female national championship last spring.
Carpio also cruised to the SPSL Sub-regional championship last weekend with a pair of pins and will be the favorite to win the regional championship this weekend at Emerald Ridge High School.
Ares Carpio, Beamer
Just like his younger sister, Arian, the Beamer senior is also unbeaten entering regionals. Carpio is a perfect 20-0 and the second-ranked 126-pounder in Class 4A, according to washingtonwrestlingreport.com. Carpio trails Tahoma’s Stephen Hopkins.
Carpio won the 119-pound state championship as a sophomore two years ago and finished third last season, so the bright lights inside the Tacoma Dome should have no negative effect on him. Carpio will wrestle next year at Arizona State University.
Carpio and the rest of the Beamer wrestlers will be at the 4A Region II Tournament at Rogers High School. The tournament will include the nine SPSL South teams, along with the 11 KingCo teams. The top-five finishers in each weight class will advance to the Mat Classic.
K.W. Williams, Jefferson
The senior, who is headed to Idaho State to play football, is 36-1 on the season after winning the SPSL North title last weekend. The 195-pound Williams finished second at 189 at last year’s state championships and is looking to finish his wrestling career with a state title. He is currently the second-ranked 195-pounder behind Curtis’ Kadyn Del Toro, who handed Williams his lone defeat this season. The two don’t have the possibility of meeting again until the state tournament.
Williams will wrestle on his home mats this weekend at the 4A Region III Tournament at Jefferson Saturday. The tournament kicks off at 10 a.m. and championship bouts will start at 5 p.m. The top-four finishers in each weight class will advance to the Mat Classic.
During the tournament, live updates will be posted at narrowsleaguewrestling.com/RegionIII.aspx.
Bianca Arizpe, Federal Way
The Eagle junior leads a group of 11 girls from Federal Way who will wrestle at the regional tournament. Arizpe is 17-2 on the season with 10 pins and ranked as the top 112-pounder in the state.
Arizpe finished in fourth place at last year’s state championships.
Brett Dykman, Beamer
The sophomore has been a very good surprise for head coach Brett Lucas. The 113-pounder is currently 29-6 on the season and won the SPSL South championship last weekend.
Dykman will have to deal with a pair of Skyline wrestlers this weekend at the 4A Region II Tournament to get to his second Mat Classic. Both Justin Manipis and Joseph Dematteo are also highly talented wrestlers.
Deshar House, Beamer
The senior is the fourth-ranked wrestler at 138 pounds in the 4A classification and finished second to Graham-Kapowsin’s Ian Steen at the rugged SPSL South Tournament. House has been to a pair of Mat Classics, but has yet to place in Tacoma.
House is currently 28-8 on the season in the stacked weight class.