8 Viking wrestlers claim top of Hill at tourney

The most experienced girl grappler on the SHS squad, sophomore Macali Lade, cruised to a first-place medal with two wins after a first round bye in the 110-lb. division. She was also voted outstanding girl wrestler by coaches at the event. Courtesy photo

Siuslaw to host annual Nick Lutz Invitational Saturday

Jan. 11, 2023 —  The Siuslaw wrestling team is near the halfway point of a very challenging schedule. With the drop down in classification, some of the competition they face this year is different than in the past. However, last weekend they competed at one event that has been part of the Viking schedule for years — the King of the Hill Invitational.

On Jan. 7, the team traveled to Pleasant Hill, where they were joined by some of the top wrestling teams from around Western Oregon in a tournament style competition.

The girls team sent six wrestlers to the event and all six scored for the Viks.

The most experienced girl grappler on the SHS squad, sophomore Macali Lade, cruised to a first-place medal with two wins after a first round bye in the 110-lb. division. She was also voted outstanding girl wrestler by coaches at the event.

“Macali is constantly adding more moves and technique to continue improving,” said Viking girls wrestling coach Sara Mann.

Viking Head Coach Neil Wartnik is a big fan of Lade’s also.

“Macali Lade showed her experience as a veteran wrester,” said the head coach. “Her style is full of life and very exciting to watch.”

Junior Meika Shappell, on the wrestling team for the first time this season, won her first match, got a forfeit her second and pinned Barbara Scott of Junction City in the final to earn first place at 145 lbs.

“Shappell showed great growth in her ability to transition from one move to another,” commented Mann.

Another junior first-year mat-women, Jane Lacouture, also took home the gold after sweeping through her competition at 155 lbs.

“Jane was especially sharp in her dominant victory over Kaylianna Mazzucchi of North Bend,” commented Wartnik. “Mazzucchi had defeated Jane earlier in the season.”

Jane’s sister, 135-lb. freshman Danin Lacouture, also won three matches to earn the gold.

“Danin and Jane Lacouture continue to show their determination and heart,” commented Mann. “Both wrestlers came out with big wins this weekend showing their dedication and their willingness to improve and listen to their coaches’ feedback.”

In addition, sophomore Abby Riggs placed second and junior Rosa Valasco-Mendez took third.

“Riggs and Rosa Valasco-Mendez had tough matches with experienced wrestlers yet competed with heart and didn't give up,” said Mann.

“The Girls team is doing amazingly well,” Wartnik commented. “I am impressed with how quickly they are improving and how hard they are working. Each wrestler shows up to practice ready to work, and not one of them is afraid to try something different. They all are developing a wrestling style of their own, and it shows in live competition.”

The boys wrestling team also had a great showing at the King of the Hill.

Senior Mason Buss continued to show why he remains undefeated this year and the top-ranked wrestler at 195 pounds in the 3A division. Following a bye, Buss won three straight matches for another first-place medal for Siuslaw.

Freshman phenom Jacob Mann had maybe the most impressive performance of the day on the boys side, pinning two skilled upperclassmen en route to the gold at 182 lbs. with a finals win over top seed Paul Clark of Lowell.

“His championship in the 182-pound division was particularly sweet for the team,” said Wartnik. “Jacob Mann showed that he is a freshman to be reckoned with.”

Sophomore Joel Sissel at 170 lbs., and senior Dayne Muller at 220 lbs., also pinned their way to titles.

“This group of four [Buss, Mann, Sissel and Muller] has been competing together since they were in elementary school, and it is a treat to watch them now,” remarked Wartnik. “They are making great progress week by week.”

Other top boy finishers included senior River Howell, who was sixth at 220 lbs.

Wartnik also brought attention to few wrestlers competing in the squared circle for the first time this season.

“First year wrestlers Jaxon Chiang, Derrick Vanduch, Logan Harris, Kenden Huff and Terry Elliot showed tremendous growth,” said Wartnik. “Harris and Vanduch were particularly impressive. Each of them won at least one match.”

Wartnik is pleased by his squad’s performances as of late.

“Both the girls and boys teams are training with a focus and attitude that could not be better,” he said. “Their performances at Marshfield last Wednesday and Pleasant Hill were very impressive.”

The tough tests will continue starting today. The Viks will take the long road trip to La Pine for a dual meet against the Hawks with matches starting at 4 p.m.

“La Pine is the reigning Boys 3A team champion and one of the strongest wrestling programs in the state,” said Wartnik.

Next, Siuslaw will host its biggest event of the year, the annual Nick Lutz Memorial that includes 27 other teams in addition to the host school. The event is on Saturday, Jan. 14, at Glenn Butler Court.

Matches start at 9:30 a.m.