The Peninsula Seahawks boys and girls wrestling teams look to start their season building on the success they had at the 2023 WIAA State Wrestling Mat Classic last February.
“It’s always about individual wrestlers placing higher than the year before and getting even better as a team,” said Gary Griffin, who is in his 12th season at the helm of Seahawks wrestling.
The girls team has three state qualifiers returning from last season: Junior Mira Sonnen (140 lbs.) and sophomores Bailey Parker (135 lbs.) and Georgina Johnson (100 lbs.).
Senior Kylie Michalke (120 lbs.) was an alternate and is coming back for her final season.
Sonnen finished third at the state championships, winning six straight matches to earn the honor. Parker took fourth place in her first year of wrestling. Griffin predicts even better results this year.
Washington State is one of the original six states to sanction high school girls wrestling. The team had 13 girls participate last year and Griffin expects more than 15 this season, the most in the eight years there has been a girls team. He said he’s excited about the future of girls wrestling at PHS.
“It just takes a handful of girls to foster the growth. Watching how positive and encouraging these girls are is just infectious,” he said.
The boys had to deal with some changes to weight classes starting this season. Previously there were 220 and 230 lbs. classes, but now it jumps significantly from 215 to 285 lbs. There are slight changes in the lower weight classes as well.
“This will cause some lineup issues, for sure,” Griffin said. “We’ll have to navigate this for a little while.”
Senior Justin Phipps, who wrestled at the state tournament in 2022 at 106 lbs. and again last year at 113 lbs. could be jumping to 120 lbs. this season. Marcus Reum (145 lbs.), who excels on the school’s water polo team, is coming back for his senior season after placing seventh at state last year in just his first year of wrestling.
“I expect big things from Justin and Marcus has just steadily (got better),” said Griffin, who is also a marketing teacher at the school. “We’re fielding a very competitive program this year.”
Griffin said that as in recent seasons, Yelm will be the team to beat in the South Sound Conference, calling the Tornados program a “juggernaut.”
The boys have their first tournament Dec. 2 at White River High School while the girls will be at Emerald Ridge High School that same day. The boys and girls teams will participate together at the Hammerhead Invitational at Kitsap Pavilion Dec. 15 and 16, and the Pacific Coast Championships at Clark County Fairgrounds Dec. 21 and 22.
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