Sports

Solid Vikings are looking to pin 4A Kingco wrestling title

Senior captains Brian Trabun, middle left, and Anthony Bratcher, middle right, lead the team through warmup stretches before a recent practice at Inglemoor High.  - TIM WATANABE, Bothell-Kenmore Reporter
Senior captains Brian Trabun, middle left, and Anthony Bratcher, middle right, lead the team through warmup stretches before a recent practice at Inglemoor High.
— image credit: TIM WATANABE, Bothell-Kenmore Reporter

Although the Inglemoor High wrestling team lost a Viking boatload of senior wrestlers last season, it is far from rebuilding. The strong tradition at Inglemoor translated into solid turnout numbers in what turned out to be a down year for 4A Kingco, with many programs struggling to turn out even 20 wrestlers.

The Vikings this year have a new first-year co-head coach in Paul Schulfer, who is assisting fifth-year coach Kevin Corbett. Schulfer, a young and energetic coach who graduated from Inglemoor in 2003, has been helping out with the program since 2006.

“The intensity and the feeling in the room has been really positive,” said Schulfer on his impressions with this year’s squad. “We have a couple kids that are senior first-year wrestlers, and they’re just having a blast, they’re lovin’ it.”

The Vikings will be led by a pair of experienced co-captains in Anthony Bratcher (135/140), the team’s only state returner, and Brian Trabun (145), a three-time defending champion at the prestigious Mariner Holiday Tournament that takes place each December.

“Bratcher’s coming back, and he’s been wrestling lights-out so far,” Schulfer said. “Brian Trabun and Shane Merrill have been wrestling really well... and we got a big group of incoming sophomores we had on our radar from the junior highs that are also wrestling well.”

Some of those sophomores are Gabe Seward (130), Josh Koukal (189) and Andrew Stocker (285), who should all contribute starting time on the mat this year.

All three have gotten off to fantastic starts this season, as Koukal and Stocker both won championships at the Mariner tournament, while Seward finished third.

“We have a bunch of young wrestlers that are coming up who should be pretty good,” said Bratcher on the incoming 10th-graders. “They’ve been showing that they’re ready to wrestle some big high-schoolers.”

While the sophomores add depth and solidify the program’s future, it’s ultimately the seniors that look to end their prep wrestling careers with some state hardware.

“I really want to make state this year again, I’m looking to at least get in the top eight,” said Bratcher, who went two-and-out last year at the Mat Classic. “I was disappointed at my performance last year, but this year I’m going to show what senior power is.”

Likewise, Trabun said his goal is to place and earn a medal at state, and hopes that all the work the he and Bratcher put in over the summer will pay off.

“We both went to a lot of Greco and freestyle camps over the summer, and wrestled a lot of state champs in Oregon,” Trabun explained. “Just getting experience... and getting prepared with a lot of mat time.”

Although the 4A Kingco league has traditionally been a weak league for high-school wrestling compared to the rest of the state (out of 18 Kingco state entries last year, only five placed at the Mat Classic), the Vikings continually turnout stronger numbers, and a stronger roster, than other schools.

“I think the consistency in coaches is a big help, right now we have some hands in the junior high (schools) so we can help make our own feeder program, in a way,” said Schulfer, who is the head wrestling coach at Kenmore Junior High. “The tradition, and the amount of success we’ve had... since Corbett has taken over, we’ve always been in the top three in Kingco. The continued success and keeping our tradition and roots helps keep us up there.”

The Vikings, who along with the rest of 4A Kingco are matched up against the extremely tough South Division of South Puget Sound League at regionals this year — which features powerhouses Graham-Kapowsin, Rogers, Curtis and Todd Beamer — just hope that they can sneak a few in the door at the Tacoma Dome this February, where anything can happen.

“We’re hoping to get Anthony Bratcher back to state, some of our other seniors, too,” Schulfer said. “We’re matched up against a tough region obviously, so we’ll see how things shake out. With the way people have been looking, mentally and physically tough, and the way we’ve been wrestling, we’re looking to have a really good season.”

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