Decatur pins down first-ever SPSL Central wrestling championship

Decatur 160-pound senior Dylan Aparis (top) helped the Gators win the South Puget Sound League Central Division championship Monday after beating Jefferson, 63-11.  - Casey Olson/The Mirror
Decatur 160-pound senior Dylan Aparis (top) helped the Gators win the South Puget Sound League Central Division championship Monday after beating Jefferson, 63-11.
— image credit: Casey Olson/The Mirror

The Decatur Gator wrestling team is a pioneer.

The Gators officially did something Monday night that no team has ever done when they won the first-ever South Puget Sound League Central Division championship with an impressive 63-11 victory over the Thomas Jefferson Raiders.

Decatur improved to 5-0 in the newly-created Central Division title, which also includes Federal Way, Auburn Riverside, Curtis, Beamer and TJ.

"This is a great group of kids that work hard," said longtime Decatur head coach Mike Bressler. "They have a winning attitude and are determined."

The Central Division title is the first at Decatur since back-to-back SPSL South championships in 2001 and '02. The Gators also won regional titles during those two years.

Decatur dominated Jefferson Monday night inside the gym on their home mat to finish the SPSL Central season unbeaten. The Gators won 11 of the 14 matches contested, including seven by pin. Decatur ran through the lower and middle weights against TJ, whose only three wins came at 171, 215 and 285 pounds.

The Gators' pins came from Rad Krysa at 119 pounds, Tyler Phelps at 125, Jerry Doran at 135, Lance Gibson at 140, Nick Karis at 145, Dylan Aparis at 160 and Matt Turner at 189. Decatur also got a decision victory from Roland Gaydosh at 152 and forfeit wins from Drew Dasher, Nick Lindholm and Tyler Thomas.

The future also looks ultra-bright for the Gators and Decatur could string together a couple more SPSL team titles. Bressler has a core group of five freshmen that have wrestled in the varsity lineup most of the season.

"The program has the potential to get stronger in the next few years, considering the youth of the team and the increased interest at Lakota and Saghalie middle schools," Bressler said. "I have to give Dallas Harwood (Lakota head coach) and Sam Hunt (Saghalie coach) both credit for revitalizing the the middle school programs."

Two of those ninth graders have been more than impressive all season long — Karis (145 pounds) and Gaydosh (152). Both have won more than 20 matches this season and have the potential to wrestle their way into the Mat Classic.

"You very rarely see a freshman above 112 pounds compete well," Bressler said. "Nick looked really good winning the Jaguar Invitational and keeps getting better as his confidence grows. He's a wrestler and Rowland has 18 pins already, which is unheard of for a freshman in his weight class."

The Gators also have a strong group of five seniors in Thomas (130), Doran (135), Eric Godfrey (145), Aparis (160) and Turner (189). Both Doran and Aparis wrestled last year at the state tournament last year, as did junior Nick Linidholm (112 pounds).

"They continue to lead the team and are competing very well as we go down the stretch toward the sub-regional," Bressler said.

The Gators now turn their attention to the very individualistic wrestling postseason, which kicks off Feb. 5-6. Decatur, along with Beamer, will compete at the SPSL South Division sub-regional tournament at Graham-Kapowsin High School, while Federal Way and Jefferson will move on to the SPSL North sub-regional at Kent-Meridian.

Regional tournaments will take place on Feb. 12-13 and the season will culminate inside the Tacoma Dome at the Mat Classic state championships Feb. 19-20.

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