OMAK – This year’s edition of the Tonasket wrestling team is as young as it’s been in recent years. Tigers coach Dave Mitchell sees a bright future for his squad; he’s hoping that future comes sooner rather than later.
He got his first glimpse of his team in action Saturday, Dec. 3, at Omak, sending two sophomores and six freshmen to the mats. The Tigers squeezed out a fourth place finish out of the 11-team field (with an additional team of JV all-stars that included a number of varsity-quality wrestlers).
“We have a pretty good idea where these young kids are,” Mitchell said. “Some of them are greener than grass. Other guys wrestled in middle school; we just haven’t seen them at the varsity level.
“There’s a lot of potential. There’s only one way for us to go. It’s just a matter of how soon we get there. In a couple of years we should be tougher than nails, but I want to get there sooner than that.”
Youthful exuberance aside, the happiest Tiger after Saturday was probably Jared Stedtfeld, who knocked off Warden state champion Javier Tapia (120 pounds) 13-10 in the championship match of a small but talented weight class.
“That was huge,” Mitchell said. “That guy beat him last year. It was just a huge match for him to start the year.”
Collin Aitcheson, also at 120 (and competing for the combined JV team) gave Tapia all he could handle in a 9-8 semifinal loss and went on to finish third, even though his points didn’t count toward the Tigers’ total.
“Losing by one point to that kid was real big for him,” Mitchell said.
Other top finishers for the Tigers included Jeffry Stedtfeld (2nd at 126), Austin Booker (2nd, 170), Tim Frazier (3rd, 105), Frank Holfelz (4th, 220) and Chad Edwards (4th, 285).
Frazier, Holfelz and Edwards are all freshmen.
“We got some nice finishes out of Frank, Chad and Tim Frazier,” Mitchell said. “(Freshman) Austin Knowlton looked real good too. Jeff Stedtfeld, too, getting second place after not placing here last year was good experience for him.
“We’re a young team, but it was a good start, and we know now where some of these guys are.”
Warden ran up 220 points to nearly double second-place Omak’s score for the team title. Cashmere took third, 15 points in front of the Tigers.
The Pioneers were without three of their top seniors, who missed the meet for a variety of reasons, but showed they will be reloading as well. Alex Aguilar, a freshman, upset another Warden state champ, J.P. Martinez, 3-2 to win the 132-pound weight class.