OROVILLE – Tonasket’s wrestling team placed seven wrestlers in the championship matches of their respective weight classes to key a first place showing at Oroville’s North Okanogan Holiday Invitational on Thursday, Dec. 22.
The Tigers, who went on to claim three individual titles, held off Liberty Bell 185.5-165 for the team championship. Omak (131) finished third, Wahkiakum (122.5) was fourth, host Oroville (111) finished fifth and Ephrata (104) took sixth.
“We had a really good (semifinal) round,” said Tonasket coach Dave Mitchell. “We really didn’t track the other teams closely, but with seven guys in the finals I felt good about where we were.”
Liberty Bell actually surpassed the Tigers with four individual champs. Two of the top matches came in finals featuring wrestlers for those two teams. Jeff Stedtfeld edged the Mountain Lions’ Justin McMillan 6-4 in overtime, scoring a last-second reversal to force the extra session and quickly scoring in again in overtime for the win.
Defending state champion Gunnar Doggett held off a challenge from the Tigers’ Austin Booker (160), pinning Booker in the final 15 seconds to finish off a match that had had several lead changes. Doggett was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Wrestler.
Trent Skelton (103), Milo Holsten (132) and Jonathan McMillan (152) were Liberty Bell’s other champs.
The Tigers dominated the lower weights as Jared Stedtfeld (113 pounds), Collin Aitcheson (120) and Jeff Stedtfeld won individual championships and Tim Frazier (103) took second.
“As young as this team is, this is a really good tournament for them,” Mitchell said. “It’s not a tournament where all the teams have full lineups, but every weight had tough guys.”
Booker, John Rawley (182) and Daniel Ortega (220) also took second place.
Oroville’s Duke Sykes (170) pinned Omak’s Conner Howe in 33 seconds to claim the Hornets’ only team title, but five of the seven Hornets who wrestled earned top three finishes. Alex Kelly (132), Mike Lynch (138), and Alex Alvarez (152) each took second place and Eric Herrera (285) finished third. Herrera’s third-place win, a pin, came against an opponent he’d lost to earlier this season.
The Hornets’ two-time state runner-up, Nick Perez, also had a win by technical fall in an exhibition match, his first action of the season after coming back from a football injury.
Other medal-winners for Tonasket included Joel Cosino (138, 4th place), Morgan O’Brien (170, 6th) and Frank Holfelz (195, 4th).
Also for Oroville Kaylee Harris took third place in the girls 155 pound bracket.
Ken Neal, Sr., announced the match and gave play-by-play for the championship matches. “The Voice of Oroville Wrestling” has called 26 of the 27 NOHI tournaments.
The Tigers next wrestle on Thursday, Dec. 29, at the Royal Invitational, while Oroville takes on Brewster and Wilbur-Creston-Keller at Omak on Jan. 4.