Auburn begins march toward Mat Classic | Wrestling

Auburn heavyweight Nick Conlan squares off at the South Puget Sound League Championship tourney. Conlan finished first at 285 pounds. - Shawn Skager/Reporter
Auburn heavyweight Nick Conlan squares off at the South Puget Sound League Championship tourney. Conlan finished first at 285 pounds.
— image credit: Shawn Skager/Reporter

It all starts with the big guys.

This year’s edition of the Auburn Trojans wrestling squad – ranked No. 3 among state 4A schools by the Washington Wrestling Report – will rely heavily on the leadership of seniors Nick Conlan and Dylan Rutledge.

Last season the heavyweight duo led the Trojans to a fifth-place finish at Mat Classic, with Rutledge grabbing the state title at 171 pounds and Conlan finishing second at 285.

“Nick and Dylan bring experience and confidence to our team,” coach John Aiken said. “These two have been to the state tournament since their freshman year at Auburn and experienced success.”

Rutledge is ranked No. 1 in the state as a 215-pounder, with a 14-1 record with first-place finishes at the Auburn Invitational, the Spud Walley tournament and the South Puget Sound League All-Division tourney. Rutledge was second at the Tri-State tourney.

Conlan is ranked No. 3 at 285 pounds with a 16-1 record, with first-place finishes at the Auburn Invite, Spud Walley and the SPSL All-Division. Conlan was third at Tri-State.

Although the Trojans will look to Conlan and Rutledge to set the pace, this year’s squad features several strong individuals.

“The team is working hard to achieve in-season and postseason goals,” Aiken said. “Several athletes have worked extremely hard and are beginning to experience success. Brian Alonzo, Tyson Gaillac, Adam Garcia, Josh Tate and Tilden Sansom all placed at the all-SPSL Tourney, and they are underclassman.”

Garcia, a junior, qualified for the state tourney at 145 last season, and so far this season has gone 7-2 at 140 with a first-place finish at last week’s All-Division tourney.

Also making some noise is 103-pound Alonzo, who is currently 12-4 with second-place finishes at the Auburn Invite, the Tri-State tourney and the SPSL All-Division.

Galliac, who has wrestled at both 112 and 119 this season, is 15-6 with a second place at the Auburn Invite.

At either 145 and 152 pounds, the Trojans will have Tate and Sansom, each with 10-4 overall records.

“We look pretty solid,” Conlan said. “We’re young, and we still haven’t had a full lineup. But I’m pretty excited to see what we can accomplish as a team.”

Rutledge is pleased with the outlook.

“Honestly, we look a lot better than I thought we would,” Rutledge said. “The guys all work really hard and we’ve bonded together well. The guys are really stepping up at dual meets and getting wins for us. A lot of kids who have been on the team all through high school that you didn’t expect much from have stepped up and got big wins for us.”

At midseason, the Trojans will wrap up the dual season and prepare for the postseason, beginning with the sub-regional meet Feb. 4-5 at Auburn High School.

“It is always our team goal to wrestle our best during the postseason, and we are aiming to do just that,” Aiken said.

Rutledge agreed.

“I honestly don’t see us placing any lower than we did last year,” he said. “Our goals are set high this year.”

NOTES: According to Aiken, senior Danny Shelton, who verbally committed to play football at the University of Washington, will not compete on the mat this season. Shelton will continue to work out with the team. Shelton finished sixth at 285 pounds at the state tourney last season. … Senior Willie Pineda, an eighth-place finisher at 130 pounds last season, has yet to wrestle this season, recuperating from a broken hand... The Trojans will travel to Mount Rainier next Wednesday and compete in a tri-meet at Auburn Riverside against the Ravens and Kentridge on Jan. 19. … Auburn closes out its season hosting Kentwood and Kent-Meridian on Jan. 26. … The Trojan girls also are off to a fine start this season with 140-pound junior Katrina Todd, who was fifth at 145 at last year’s Mat Classic, compiling a 4-0 record with firsts at the Emerald Ridge and SPSL tournaments. Teammate Siao Wilson was first in the 171-pound division at the SPSL tourney.

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