It’s much too early to tell how good the Auburn Riverside wrestling team will be on the mat this season.
Which is why coach Kyle Jones welcomes the stout competition his wrestlers will face when they visit Auburn High School for the host Trojans’ season-opening invitational on Saturday. First bouts begin at 10 a.m.
The preseason field includes a visit from South Kitsap, defending state 4A champion, and Vashon Island, among others. Auburn Riverside is the defending invite champion. Host Auburn returns a solid team under second-year coach Matt Hoover.
“We’ll see what it is,” Jones said of his evolving lineup. “We graduated a lot of seniors. I think we have a pretty good team coming back, but I don’t know yet. … We’re young, but we have some kids who will eventually hit everybody’s radar.”
Behind the one-two punch of lightweight Yusef Nelson and 220-pound Will Russell, the Ravens look to three-peat as North Puget Sound League Olympic Division and league/sub-regional meet champions. Auburn Riverside has dominated the division, delivering back-to-back 7-0 dual seasons.
Nelson returns as one of the state’s top 120-pounders. As a 113-pound junior a season ago, Nelson went 35-3, captured league and regional titles before falling to Curtis’ nationally-ranked Aizayah Yacapin 5-2 in the state final at Mat Classic XXX in the Tacoma Dome. That painful loss, Jones said, has pushed Nelson to be even better this season.
“He’s put in a ton of work. He’s pretty motivated to finish out the season on a win, where he ended on a loss last year,” Jones said. “He’s had a lot of motivation this offseason to keep improving his craft … and be a state champion, and he’s got a chance.”
By finishing eighth last year, Russell, a first-time state placer, returns, as does state participant Peyton Scheschy at 160 pounds, state alternate Eyvar Robles at 285 pounds and lightweight Jaden Cassel.