Yelm boys wrestling finishes in first place at regional tournament


Yelm High School’s boys wrestling team drove 154 miles to Oak Harbor High School for its 3A regionals tournament. After a long day of wrestling on Saturday, Feb. 10, the Tornados made the long, returning trip home with a first-place trophy.

The Tornados saw two first-place finishes from Lake Harris (150 pounds), and Jonah Smith (285). Wesley Thompson (126) finished in second place, while Ethan Owens (144) finished in third place. Kaleb Holman (165) finished in fifth. All five Tornados punched their ticket to Mat Classic XXXV at the Tacoma Dome on Friday, Feb. 16 and potentially Saturday, Feb. 17.

“I looked at their brackets. They all have a good chance at placing, but you never know what’s going to happen at the state tournament,” boys wrestling coach Gaylord Strand said. “Some kids step up and perform, but some kids have a tough time handling the pressure. We’re going to find out what kind of men we have.”

Following the conclusion of the regional tournament, Coach Strand said he was proud of his athletes for how they performed at Oak Harbor High School. He added that some of his younger wrestlers helped the Tornados get off to their hot start.

“Our kids really wrestled well up at regionals. I have such a young team, but they performed really well. In preparation for next year, now they know what regionals are all about. The kids that didn’t make it through will have a good goal to shoot for next year,” Strand said. “I wasn’t sure how we were going to do with the strong teams up north, but my kids started the tournament off with a bang. We were getting pins, and some of my younger kids were getting wins that I didn’t expect.”

The Tornados will have four alternates available at the Mat Classic, including Tate Oberhansley (113) Auto O’Neal (157) Genesis Finch (215) and Tamaas Wakefield (285).

“We had a tough round in that last round on Saturday. I had five kids wrestling for fifth place and a chance to get in, and only one of them made it,” Strand said. “We’re hoping somebody might be able to slip in. It seems we’ve been pretty lucky that way, so let’s just hope we can get somebody in.”

Additionally, three Tornados wrestlers finished in seventh place at the regional tournament, including Andrei Bubon (126), Hunter Owens (132) and Ashton Carreto (157). At the conclusion of the tournament, Strand was named the regional coach of the year, while assistant Tim Beaudin was named regional assistant coach of the year.

Strand said he’ll be in the running for 3A coach of the year, which will be announced at the conclusion of Mat Classic XXXV. He added it would be an incredible way to finish his 50-year career if he was named the classification’s coach of the year.

“It’s kind of hitting me that this is my last state tournament. I’m going to miss it,” Strand said. “I’m going to soak it all in this weekend for sure. I’ll get to say goodbye to a lot of my good friends, and I’m hopeful that my boys will have the best tournament they can have. That would make it all the worthwhile for me.”

Doors will open at the Mat Classic XXXV at 9 a.m. both days.