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WRESTLING: Decatur primed for a run at a state title, hosting 'big-time' events this weekend
The Decatur wrestling team was very close to making history a season ago. The Gators came up just four points short of winning the program's first-ever state team championship, finishing second to University.
"That did not sit well with these kids," said longtime head coach Mike Bressler.
This season, the Gators have the horses to stand on top of the podium as a team inside the Tacoma Dome come February. Bressler returns a full compliment of kids with Mat Classic experience.
According to WashingtonWrestlingReport.net, the Gators enter the season as the second-ranked team in Class 3A behind Sunnyside. Bonney Lake, Decatur's main rival in the South Puget Sound League 3A Division, are right behind in third.
"We have hard-working kids," Bressler said. "The rest will be determined by their effort and commitment."
Decatur did lose plenty of talent from a season ago with the graduation of Kyle Gleed, Nick Karis, Rowland Gaydosh and Spencer Smith. Gleed won the heavyweight state title last year and Karis (170), Gleed (182) and Smith all snared third-place finishes at state.
But the Gators do bring back a strong lineup that got a lot of experience a season ago during the rugged SPSL 3A regular season, along with the experience of wrestling in the postseason.
Leading the list of returners for the Gators is junior Isaiah Diggs and sophomore Leviticus Arizpe.
Diggs, a 138-pounder, won the SPSL and regional championships before finishing third at the Mat Classic. Diggs, who was a first-team, All-SPSL 3A running back, started the season by winning the individual title at the John Birbeck Invitational Saturday. Arizpe, a 132-pound sophomore, also won the regional championship and was the third-place finisher at state.
Bressler also brings back state qualifiers Trysten Dawson (126), Dennis Good (145), Christian Aragon (152) and Brandon Zimmerman (160). Dawson was the SPSL champ and finished sixth at state and Zimmerman was seventh at Mat Classic.
"Zimmerman, Good and Aragon provide leadership and model the Decatur wrestling work ethic needed for success," Bressler said.
Also returning for the Gators are Austin Thomas (112), Moses Griffen (120), Keoni Aparis (145), Max Henry (195) and Teban Masasary (285), along with newcomer Chris Carns.
"The success of this team is in the hands of the kids," Bressler said. "If they want to leave a legacy behind, then they will find a way."
Decatur will host a huge couple days of wrestling Friday and Saturday. Friday night defending Class 4A team champions, Lake Stevens, along with Vashon and Bethel will be in Federal Way for a Double Duel Meet. Action starts at 5 p.m.
On Saturday, the Gators will host the Hurricane Harris Invitational. The 16-team tournament will run from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. inside the Decatur gym.
Teams include Kentlake, Kent-Meridian, Curtis, Sumner, Cascade, Hazen, Kennedy Catholic, Wilson, Lincoln, Mt. Rainier, Timberline, Bothell, Redmond, Skyline and Nathan Hale. The tournament is named after Robert "Hurricane" Harris, who drowned in Lake Tapps in September of 2011. Harris was a standout wrestler for the Gators.