SPORTS: Port Angeles wrestling team takes the ax back

PORT ANGELES — The ax is back.

It took five years, three grueling wins, a tie in the championship match and down to the fifth rule of a tie-breaker for the Port Angeles wrestling team to win its own Battle for the Axe tournament Wednesday for the first time in six years.

The Roughriders, who won the first tourney back in 2004 and went wanting the next four years, took Class 1A powerhouse La Center to the wire in the dual-meet tourney format.

Both teams, 3-0 in dual meets going into the championship match, tied 36-36.

That was after La Center, which has seven returning state placers and participants, took 12-0 and 30-3 leads over the Riders.

Port Angeles outscored the Wildcats 33-6 down the stretch to earn the tie.

It took about 10 minutes for tourney officials to go down a list of tie-breaker criteria before declaring Port Angeles the winner.

The Riders beat out the Wildcats 5-4 as the team having the greater total number of six-point wins such as falls, defaults, forfeits and disqualifications.

Pins by Nathan Cristion, Jacob Dostie and Ozzy Swagerty and two forfeits put the Riders over the top.

That was enough for Port Angeles coach Erik Gonzalez to pick up the trophy, which displays a real ax, and show it around while his team cheered.

“We’re excited,” Gonzalez said. “It’s been too long between tournament wins.

“It was a very dramatic match with La Center. I couldn’t have scripted it better. I’m excited for our fans, coaches and the kids.”

Sequim gives up trophy

Archrival Sequim, the defending champion, gave up the trophy after claiming fifth place with a young and inexperienced team.

“This is the highlight of the year for us,” Nathan Cristion, who was named the outstanding wrestler of Pool 1, said.

“We have been trying to win this for all four years I have been here.”

Senior Andrew Symonds, who started the comeback rally with a decision in the third match of the night, also was happy with the tourney victory.

“It feels great to win the ax,” he said. “We wanted it bad.”

Symonds won his match 9-3 to get the Riders on board after the team trailed 12-0.

“I’m an older wrestler, and I wanted to set the tone for my team,” he said. “I wanted to go out and wrestle well.”

The Wildcats scored the next 18 points, though, to take a major 30-3 lead and make it look bleak for a Port Angeles win.

Many of the Riders were looking tired after competing in their fourth straight match of the day.

“It was a grueling day for us and La Center, returning seven from state, is as tough as nails,” Gonzalez said.

“They beat us up, and that was the strength of their roster.”

That was until Nathan Cristion decided to do some beating up himself.

His early first-round pin made it 30-9 and opened up the flood gates.

Cristion, who is 13-0 on the year with 12 pins, came out aggressive from the get-go, not giving his opponent much time to think.

“That’s how I like to wrestle,” he said.

Perfect performance

Cristion went 4-0 in the tourney, all pins.

Dostie then earned a fall in the second round to keep the rally going.

In pool play, the Riders ripped Ocosta 70-12, beat the JV Dream Team 54-21 and battered Shelton 42-29.

La Center, meanwhile, beat Kingston 45-33, blasted Central Kitsap 66-10 and defeated Sequim 53-31 in pool play.

The Sequim Wolves went 2-2 on the day, losing to the Wildcats and to Kingston, 46-26, but beating Central Kitsap 72-11 in pool play and the JV Dream Team 57-12 in crossover action.

“It was a great day for us,” Sequim coach Len Borchers said. “We surrendered the trophy to Port Angeles but our young kids wrestled well.”

Going undefeated on the day for the Wolves were Royhon Agostine at 103 pounds and Chris Falkey at 189.

Earning 3-1 records were Mustang Riggins at 140, Dakota Hinton at 171 and Clay Charley at 285.

Hinton, who now has only three losses on the year, lost for the second time this year to La Center’s Ryan Kulla, who was seventh at state last year but is ranked No. 5 this season.

“The La Center kid is very good,” Borchers said. “Dakota made a mistake and Kulla tood advantage.”

La Center’s Chris Mayolo was named the most outstanding wrestler for Pool 2.


Sports Editor Brad ­LaBrie can be reached at 360-417-3525 or at [email protected]

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