Youngsters wrestle well as Eagles defeat Spartans

January 17, 2014

By Neil Pierson

It wasn’t the ideal situation for Robert Steil to wrestle his first varsity match, but the Issaquah High School senior was up to the task.

With their regular 220-pound starter, Terrance Zaragoza, out of commission, the Eagles turned to Steil to pick up some points in their Class 4A KingCo Conference dual against rival Skyline.

Steil didn’t disappoint, dominating Henry Bainivalu for the first two periods and collecting six team points with a pin in 4 minutes, 38 seconds.

Joseph DeMatteo (top), Skyline High School senior, keeps the pressure on Issaquah junior Brandon Vrinceanu on the way to a pin in the second period of their 145-pound bout Jan. 9.  Photo by Greg Farrar

Joseph DeMatteo (top), Skyline High School senior, keeps the pressure on Issaquah junior Brandon Vrinceanu on the way to a pin in the second period of their 145-pound bout Jan. 9.
Photo by Greg Farrar

Steil’s victory helped Issaquah build a 36-0 lead, and that proved too much for the Spartans to overcome as the Eagles won 45-31 on Jan. 9 at Skyline High.

Did Steil feel butterflies as he walked to the mat for the first time as a varsity wrestler?

“Yes – especially with a guy that was bigger than me, and taller than me,” he said. “But I just fought hard, kept going until the end, and I won in the end, so I’m happy.”

Steil nearly pinned Bainivalu late in the first period, but settled for an 8-4 lead. He had another near fall in the second period and increased his lead to 15-7, then quickly turned Bainivalu onto his back for the final time early in the third period.

Steil said he’s had help from two teammates – Ruben Orta and Hunter Hurley – to improve his techniques this season, but his strategy was quite simple against Bainivalu.

“First thing – don’t get pinned,” Steil said. “Second thing is just drive, drive, drive, grab a leg, get him on his back and just keep pushing.”

The Eagles opened the dual with six straight victories. At 182 pounds, Chance Gunter needed only 40 seconds to pin Tim Tran. After a forfeit win for William Noguiera at 195, Steil’s pin made it 18-0 for Issaquah.

Orta won by forfeit at 285, as did 106-pounder Jacob Lerch, who filled in for injured starter William Tickman. Torre Eaton (113) completed Issaquah’s huge surge, pinning Kody Nguyen in 1:56.

Skyline coach Gus Kiss gave credit to Issaquah coach Kirk Hyatt for filling his positions, and that spelled the difference on a night when the Spartans wrestled well, Kiss believed.

“It’s tough to give up points,” Kiss said. “Kirk always has a full team, the kids always come prepared, and there were some great matches tonight.

“Overall, I appreciate that it was a nice crowd. I think the kids had fun.”

Skyline finally got a victory at 120 pounds as Nathan Swanson got an early takedown and pinned Yashar Ghavidel in 38 seconds. Nate Jensen (126) followed with a strong performance against Eli Schrier, picking up two near falls en route to a 12-2 major decision.

In terms of quality wrestling, the 132-pound bout between Issaquah’s Jordan Hamilton and Skyline’s Tristan Steciw proved to be one of the night’s best.

Steciw took down Hamilton in each of the first two periods, then earned a reversal from the bottom position early in the third period for a 6-1 decision.

But Louden Ivey restored order for the Eagles at 138 pounds, gluing Garin Swanson to the mat for the majority of six minutes and emerging with a 6-0 decision.

Skyline’s Joseph DeMatteo (145), a 2013 state qualifier, appears to be well on his way to a return trip. He battered Brandon Vrinceanu for a pin at 2:53.

Kiss said DeMatteo wrestled well during the Spartans’ holiday tournament – the Shark Tank Invitational in Corona, Calif. – and he bounced back after a loss to Woodinville’s Dalton Mann earlier in the week.

“He’ll be there in the mix when it counts in the end,” Kiss said.

At 152 pounds, Spartans sophomore Adrian Abraham was sharp in defeating Caleb Elam. Abraham picked up some key points with a near fall just before the second-period horn, earned a reversal from the third-period restart, then finished off the pin at 5:18.

“He finally got down to (152), and he did a nice job today,” Kiss said of Abraham. “He’s coming on.”

The teams split the final two bouts of the night. Issaquah’s Colby Starren (160) pinned Brennon Raphael in 1:51, and Skyline’s Bo Longmore pinned Parker Hamilton in 1:48.

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