Juanita and Lake Washington’s wrestlers are off and rolling into the 2A/3A KingCo season.
Both squads possessed 2-0 league and 2-1 overall records at press time and have a host of talented grapplers ready to make an impact on the mat during the 2019-2020 campaign.
Longtime wrestling coach Kevin Corbett makes his first appearance on the Juanita side and has 40 athletes in his corner.
Corbett — whose son, Justin, used to wrestle at Juanita — is proud of how the Rebels have started out with their strength and conditioning sessions. He said the Rebels are not only eyeing league matches, but they’re focused on making sub-regionals and securing spots at the Mat Classic state tournament.
“You see how excited they are. They’re getting into it, they’re supporting each other, everybody’s rallying,” said Corbett, noting that the Rebels are letting their emotions flow and displaying their passion for the sport.
Tops for Juanita are sophomore Khai Truong at 126 pounds, junior Angel Kotalas at 132 pounds, junior Braden McNeff at 138 pounds, junior Leon Kawahara at 145 pounds and sophomore Andrew Doughty at 170 pounds. All the guys are hard workers and lead by example, Corbett said.
Here’s the lowdown on the Rebel Five: Truong’s wrestling lineage includes two uncles who were state champions and his brothers also grappled at Juanita. Kotalas is quiet and calm while getting his job done. McNeff has rebounded from last year’s knee injury and made a statement in his first match back by pinning his Sammamish opponent on Dec. 5. Doughty, a fiery wrestler who made state last year, pinned his Bellevue opponent to kick off the Dec. 5 meet. Kawahara got in some wrestling over the summer in Japan while on vacation.
Coach Steve Becher’s squad won the KingCo dual-meet title last year and the Kangs are looking to repeat as champs this time out.
“We’re ready to go this year, we’ve got an exciting team,” said Becher, who has 34 wrestlers on the squad. “Our game plan is to improve at every match we have. Try something new that you haven’t tried before — if it didn’t work, try it again.”
LW has a trio of state competitors in seniors Max Reisman at 138 pounds, Ryan Watson at 152 pounds and Ian East at 160 pounds.
Here’s Becher’s analysis of the trio: Two-time state competitor Reisman is a consistent, non-stop wrestler. Watson is coming off an injury from last season and participated in a lot of offseason wrestling; the Kang brings strength to the mat. East is a speedy, strong and technical wrestler.
Other Kangs to keep an eye on are juniors Kyle Earl at 145 pounds and Faris Khilfeh at 220 pounds, both of whom competed at state last year; senior Elijah Lux at 126 pounds; and sophomores DeRon House at 106 pounds and Jackson Lux at 126 pounds.