By Mike Maltais
Emmett Fink and Jacob McMillan turned in first-place performances and teammates Meritt Fink and Danny Humiston battled to second-place medals to lead the Liberty Bell Mountain Lions varsity wrestling team to an overall fifth place at the annual Apple Pie Tournament at Tonasket last Saturday.
The four Mountain Lions were among nine Liberty Bell wrestlers to make the trip north and come to grips with eight other teams representing Warden, Chewelah, Okanogan, Cascade, Kettle Falls, Brewster, Oroville and Tonasket.
Emmett Fink got the upper hand over wrestlers from Tonasket, Warden and Chewelah to take first place at 152 pounds. McMillan subdued opponents from Cascade, Tonasket and Brewster to win the 138-pound title.
Danny Rodriguez led off for Liberty Bell at 113 pounds with a second-period loss to Tonasket’s Devin Walton. In the consolation bracket, Rodriguez was pinned by Adrian Hernandez of Warden.
Humiston made quick work of Cascade’s Jose Ramirez with a 38-second first-round pin. Humiston then won a 2-1 decision over Trevor Peterson of Tonasket to advance to the championship round against Tonasket’s Dylan Walton. Walton took the final by a 12-1 decision
Jacob McMillan dispatched Cascade’s Gabe Hall by a pin in 3:28. McMillan’s next opponent, Zach Lofthus didn’t score a point against McMillan as the Mountain Lion dominated a 9-0 decision. In the championship round, McMillan found a tough rival in Brewster’s Raf Varelas but pulled out a 9-8 decision over the Bear.
Jake Pennock drew the eventual 145-pound champion Emilo Pruneda from Warden in the first round and lost by a pin. It didn’t get much better in the consolation bracket, where Pennock was pinned by Cascade’s Tanner Zimmerman and was eliminated from competition.
Meanwhile, in the same weight bracket Meritt Fink pinned Wyatt Pershing of Tonasket and Okanogan’s Austin Eastridge to advance to the finals. There, Pruneda, who earlier defeated Pennock, edged Fink, 6-4, in overtime for the title.
Tonasket’s Caio Baumstein was no match at 152 pounds for Emmett Fink, who pinned the Tiger in 2:46. Fink did the same thing to Ernesto Medez of Warden to advance to the championship round, and then took an 8-1 decision over Chewelah’s Quenton Smith for first place.
Tyson Coleman was pinned quickly by Chewelah’s Connor Fulbright at 160 pounds and lost an 18-9 decision to Oroville’s Eddi Ocampo in the consolation round.
Stoney Hulon lost to former LBHS wrester Dreton Acord, now competing for Okanogan, by a pin in 3:20 of their first match at 285 pounds. Hulon bounced back in the consolation bracket to score a 3:31 pin over Warden’s Ismael Pruneda. Joseph Pruneda of Warden then eliminated Hulon from competition by a pin in 2:15.
Ivan Johnson competed in the 152-pound JV division and won decisions over opponents from Kettle Falls (7-1) and Okanogan (11-0).
Tonasket won the Apple Pie followed by Warden, Chewelah, and Okanogan. Liberty Bell, with wrestlers missing from half of the available weight brackets, outscored Cascade, Kettle Falls, Brewster and Oroville.
The Mountain Lions were scheduled to attend the Chelan Tournament Tuesday (Jan. 21) but illness depleted the team roster to the extent that coach Paul Schmekel elected to forego the event. Liberty Bell will travel to Kittitas for the Coyote Classic on Saturday (Jan. 25).