By Amylynn Richards
Ashley Norton (152 lbs.) became the first-ever girl to qualify for the Girls’ State Tournament during the Girls’ Regionals match in Sedro-Woolley. She won with “an exciting pin with 3 seconds left in the Consolation Finals to place third,” said Coach Mike Compton.
Senior Brandon Drye has brought home the Regional Championship first place trophy in the 215 lb. class.
As a team, the Braves finished Regionals better than they ever have in the teams’ history, earning third place on Saturday, Feb. 12. “La Conner passed up two teams in the final two rounds, with many victories and several pins,” Coach Compton said.
Brave highlights: A first-round pin by champion Brandon Drye; 19 second pin by senior Travis Silva; Wil James came back with third place, and came back from a 0-6 down to pin his opponent in the final 26 seconds of the match; Dalton Zavala earned third place, and won a victory by pin over an opponent to whom he had lost twice in the regular season; and Nathan Parker (285) won third place.
Tacoma Baptist was first with 189 points, Concrete second with 125 points, and La Conner third with 87 points. Winlock High and Ocosta High rounded out the top five of the 15-team Regional.
The Braves are headed to the Tacoma Dome Friday and Saturday, Feb. 18 and 19, for State competition, with five wrestlers, the most La Conner has ever sent to state: Senior and Regional champion Brandon Drye (215 lbs. class), his fourth trip; Dahlton Zavala (152 lbs.); Wil James (189 lbs.); Nathan Parker (285 lbs.); and senior Ashley Norton. Alternates for state are Travis Silva, who earned fourth at regionals (215 lbs.) and Cameron Wischhusen, also fourth at regionals (285 lbs.).
Coach Compton has chosen Brandon Drye as this week’s Wrestler of the Week. Drye pinned all three opponents in the first round of each match. Cameron Wischhusen was named the WIAA / Seattle Times’ State Athlete of the Week last week, after winning District Championships (285 lbs.) Feb. 5 in Concrete. “Cameron is the perfect example of courage, character and sportsmanship and the WIAA couldn’t have selected a more deserving individual,” Compton said.
The Braves, league champions, went to Concrete Tuesday, Feb. 8 to play the final game of the regular season, beating the Lions 68-36. Team highlights: Tyler Howlett, 16 points; Mike Wilbur, 15 points; Kyle McKnight, 12 points. The boys completed the competition with a 14-0 league record, the only undefeated team in the 1A/2B Northwest League.
Due to WIAA restructuring in 2010, there is no longer a Tri-District competition. Instead, there is a Bi-District, which is comprised of Northwest and Sea-Tac leagues. The first match was Saturday, Feb. 12 at home against Mount Rainier Christian, which was the fourth seed in the Sea-Tac league. The Braves won 59-33. Kyle McKnight scored 14 points; Landy James, 9 points; and Spencer Novak scored 8 points.
The girls fought hard for their 57-51 win over the Concrete Lions Tuesday, Feb. 8, the final game of the season, which brought them 3rd place in the District and a shoot at the Bi-District championship as the #4 seed. Coach Marla Quesnell said the girls “played well and won a tight game in the final minutes. We took care of the ball when it was crucial and got a couple of key rebounds at pivotal moments.”
Team highlights: Priscilla Ponce-Venegas scored 16 points and made 17 rebounds; Samie Miller, 10 points; Nikki Finley, 10 points; and Katie McKnight; and Aubrey Stewart made 8 rebounds.
The girls played an away game against Tacoma Baptist Saturday, Feb. 12. The Crusaders won 49-41 and are on their way to regional competition.
“We struggled to score in the first quarter and had to play catch-up,” said Quesnell. The Braves nearly caught up in the second and fourth quarters “but were never able to gain the lead.” Samie Miller scored 12 points, and Nikki Finley scored 11 points.