Juanita senior King Kotalas wrestles at 126 pounds for the Rebels this season. Andy Nystrom / staff photo

Juanita senior King Kotalas wrestles at 126 pounds for the Rebels this season. Andy Nystrom / staff photo

King Kotalas: Juanita’s wrestling royalty

Senior Rebel sports a 16-2 record at 126 pounds.

Make way for King Kotalas, a Juanita High senior wrestler who has been pounding out an abundance of wins on the mat this season.

Grappling at 126 pounds, the Rebel sported a 16-2 record at press time and will next hit the mat with fellow Kirkland wrestlers at the 3A sub-regionals, which will begin at 5 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. Saturday at Edmonds-Woodway High.

In his fourth year with the Rebels, Kotalas credits his hard work with solid practice partners as the reason for his dominance in the wrestling realm. He wrestled at 106 as a freshman and has moved up about seven pounds each season to where he stands now.

Last season, he made it all the way to the Mat Classic state tournament for the first time and went 1-2, just one win away from placing. He’d like to return to the prep wrestling promised land at the Tacoma Dome on Feb. 15-16.

On the state scene in the massive dome, Kotalas noted: “The crowd was amazing. It also made me nervous, all the people looking at you on this one mat. It was awesome but I wasn’t mentally prepared yet for that kind of crowd.”

Kotalas lost his first match, but rebounded to taste victory.

“So much was going through my head. I knew that I worked too hard throughout the season just to give up, so I battled through my second match and got a pin,” said the grappler, who lost his third match to exit the tourney.

The Rebel won his 3A KingCo weight class last season and took fourth place at regionals to qualify for state. He learned to always stay prepared and warmed up for matches in order to reap success.

“This year, I began to warm up more and get myself kind of sweaty before matches, so I’m ready to wrestle before I get out on the mat,” said Kotalas, adding that hard work, dedication and discipline are always on his side. He favors the top position when matches commence and likes unleashing armbars, tilts and more on his opponents.

Along with fighting it out during matches, he said that surrounding himself with stellar teammates who provide encouragement have a hand in helping him become a better wrestler.

The Reporter asked Kotalas a series of questions for a behind-the-scenes glimpse into his life.

What’s your favorite restaurant in Kirkland?


What’s your biggest pet peeve?

When people are chewing with their mouth open, and that gets you so mad. Yeah.

What’s your dream vacation spot?

I wanna go to Hawaii or Cambodia, that’s where my parents are from.

What’s the best piece of advice that you’ve ever been given?

Just work hard and keep your head up.

What’s your favorite movie of all time?

I like the “The Lion King.”

If you go to dinner with one person, who would that be?

LeBron James.

What super power would you like to have?

Super strength.

• Wrestling notes

In other action, notable Lake Washington High wins over the last week came from DeRon House at 106, Kai Furutani at 113, Max Reisman at 120, Jackson Lux at 126, Kyle Earl at 132, Ryan Watson at 152, Ian East at 152/160, Haney Elshaer at 160, Donovan Acevedo at 170, Gabe Bivens at 182, Faris Khilfeh at 195 and Spencer Webb at 220.

Complete information for the 2A/3A KingCo final standings was not available at press time.

In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@kirklandreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.kirklandreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in Sports

Pictured: A Mercer Island High School swimmer competes in fall 2019. Washington Interscholastic Activities Association recently announced the girls swim and dive season will be moved to “Season 3,” which begins March 1. File photo
WIAA gives schools option to delay start of prep sports until December

An updated plan moves girls swimming to Season 3 and makes fall cross country an alternate season.

WIAA delays start dates for fall sports

Football practices to begin Sept. 5, all other sports planned for Sept. 7.

Northwest University’s Ford signs with Seattle Mountaineers

The 6-foot-6-inch forward ended his senior season as the No. 1 rebounder in the nation with 12.03 rebounds per game.

Northwest’s volleyball team stays connected during trying times

The squad has been using Zoom to hold weekly meetings during which they check in and pray for each other if needed.

No-show season: WIAA announces cancellation of spring sports, activities

Due to the school closure extension, the cancellation includes all practices, competitions, tournaments and championships, WIAA says.

There’s still hope for spring sports, WIAA announces

Washington Interscholastic Activities Association making contingency plans for high school sports competitions after extension of stay home order.

The WIAA announced Wednesday that if schools reopen at the conclusion of the six-week statewide shutdown ordered last week by Gov. Jay Inslee, then the state championships will go on as planned. (WIAA photo)
WIAA still hoping to hold state championships in May

But if the school shutdown extends past April 24, those championships could be in jeopardy.

Athletic practices and competitions cancelled through April 24 due to coronavirus outbreak

By Andy Nystrom and Benjamin Olson Gov. Jay Inslee announced on March… Continue reading

Games are being postponed in response to coronavirus outbreak

In response to the recent coronavirus outbreak, Eastside schools are taking precautions… Continue reading

Kangs fall to Bulldogs in championship game

Lake Washington finished in second place at the 3A state basketball tournament.

Kangs reach 3A state tournament final on Saturday

LW defeats Eastside Catholic in semifinals.

Kangs advance to the semifinals at the Dome

LW beats Mt. Spokane and faces top-seeded Eastside Catholic next.