By Mike Maltais
The defending state champion Liberty Bell High School varsity wrestling team got its first look at a few league rivals last Thursday (Dec. 4) when it opened the season at the Okanogan Jamboree against the Okanogan Bulldogs, Omak Pioneers and Lake Roosevelt Raiders.
Following a day of rest the Mountain Lions were back at the Pioneer Invitational Tournament in Omak on Saturday (Dec. 6) against the Omak Pioneers and Tonasket Tigers.
The Mountain Lions measured up well against all comers at the Jamboree with wins by pins or points over a majority of opponents in the abbreviated matches.
At the Pioneer Invitational, coach Paul Schmekel said that despite an official third-place finish he got a firsthand look at impressive individual performances.
“Meritt [Fink] wrestled Tonasket’s Jorge Juarez, the No. 2 guy at 1A state last year, and really dominated him, 8-2,” Schmekel said.
Schmekel said he was pleased with the performance of his athletes and, as the season progresses, hopes to spread his 12 wrestlers through as many of the weight classes as possible. That includes heavyweight Dreton Acord, who is back wrestling for Liberty Bell following a season’s absence spent competing for the Okanogan Bulldogs.
The Mountain Lions only lost one wrestler, 160-pound state champion Milo Holston, to graduation last year, “but we picked up a couple of new faces in freshmen Finlay Holston and Brayden Charrette,” the coach said.
“We have a small team and a number of guys in the mid-range weight classes,” Schmekel said. “We’re going to try to get as many as we can to focus on a separate weight category and see how that goes.”
The Mountain Lions host Omak at 7 p.m. tonight (Dec. 10) in the Lions’ Den for their first competition on the new wrestling mats installed last month. Schmekel once again extended his thanks to the organizations and individuals whose work and contributions made the acquisition of the new mats possible.
Pioneer Invitational results
1st 126 lbs Trent Skelton
1st 145 lbs Meritt Fink
1st 152 lbs Emmett Fink
2nd 170 lbs Jacob McMillan
2nd 182 lbs Ivan Johnson
3rd 106 lbs Brayden Charrette
3rd 285 lbs Dreton Acord
4th 138 lbs Danny Humiston
4th 182 lbs Tyson Coleman