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Woodinville wrestling revs up the engine

  • Written by Don Mann
Wrestling 1
Staff Photo/Don Mann Falcon senior captain Connor McCaw, escaping here against Bothell’s Dezmond Wallen, would pin the Cougar at 3:57
Woodinville wrestling broke the seal on its 2012-13 season with a pair of victories in a double dual at home Tuesday against Bothell and Ballard.

Sophomore Cole Morrison at 126 pounds, senior captain Connor McCaw at 145 and junior Cole Stemmerman at 220 each finished with pins in both of their matches.

The Falcons knocked off Bothell 54-27, with pins by Adam DiDomizio at 170 and Ryan Christensen, wrestling up at 192. Four other Falcons won by forfeit.

Woodinville then beat Ballard 64-15, with pins by Ridge Peterson at 120, Zack Gracia at 132 and Dalton Mann at 138. Five other Falcons won by forfeit.

Woodinville coach Shaker Culpepper, now in his 16th year as head man, spent some time before the matches talking about this year’s team.

“We’re real young, one senior,” he said. “Our juniors are pretty experienced but our sophomores are really inexperienced. We have a few first year wrestlers and our 106-pounder is in his third week of wrestling ever.”

The senior is McCaw. Said Culpepper: “Senior captain, great kid who ended up going to regionals last year. Worked hard in the offseason and has a shot to get to state.”

The juniors are Peterson, Gracia, Mann, Bryan Morrison, Everett Bingisser (who was injured and did not compete), Christensen and Stemmerman.

On Gracia: “Last week he took the kid favored to win 3A state to overtime and lost 6-4. Great match at White River. He ended up getting third place in a very tough tournament. Went to state last year and is looking good. We think he can place this year.”

Wrestling 2
Staff Photo/Don Mann Sophomore Cole Morrison, looking like a pair of scissors, cuts down Bothell’s Kenji Lagrange for a fall at 5:21.
On Mann: “He’s one of those kids that was stuck behind a bunch of people last year. But he’s gonna be pretty darn good at 138 this year. He’s improved a lot and that’s a kid to keep your eye on.”

On Christensen, who came within a whisker of being a state champion as a sophomore and may now be the best wrestler in the state: “He won the national championship over the summer. He’s gotten better, gotten stronger. This is Ryan: I called him over the summer to congratulate him on the national championship … and he wanted to know what time weight lifting was on Monday. I was like, really?

The three top schools he wants to go to are Stanford, Michigan and Cornell — some of the best institutions for academic and wrestling in the country. Really intelligent kid, great leader … If you could design a high school wrestler, you’d design Ryan. He’s gonna do something special in college and possibly more after that. He just is.”

On Stemmerman: “Cole will wrestle 195 for us but he’s wrestling up tonight (to 220). Tough kid, good kid. He wrestles Christensen every day in practice. He’s gonna be pretty darn good at the end of the year.”

The sophomores are Michael Gamez, Edward Kim, Morrison, Davis Webb and DiDomizio.

Said Culpepper on Morrison, Bryan’s younger brother who later won his first two varsity bouts ever on pins: “He’s a six-foot-tall 126 pounder. If we can teach him to use his length, he can be pretty good.”

Culpepper, one of the really good guys in any high school sport — and a former Falcon himself, was asked what keeps him motivated after all these years.

“I just love the idea of helping kids reach their potential,” he said. “This year I’m not around like I want to be because this is my busy season at work… but luckily I have a great coaching staff that’s really committed and they take care of business when I can’t be there.”

That staff includes Ryan Hitzemann, Tyson Chester and Todd Christensen.

Shaker, who also has one of the great first names in high school sports, was asked how many Falcons might make it down to the Tacoma Dome for Mat Classic XXV.

“I’d like to say we’re gonna take four or five.”

(He always likes to say that …)

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