Rumble by the river

A new year begins with promise for King, Huck and the Panthers

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Michael Huck (right) grabbed the 140-pound championship at the Washougal River Rumble.

As if wrestling in the jungle on New Year’s Day was not thrilling enough for the Panthers, Chism King and Michael Huck captured Washougal River Rumble championships.

King pinned Union’s Junior Godinho for the 112-pound title. He also pinned Ridgefield’s Adrian Montiell and Union’s Tiffany Hu to earn the opportunity to wrestle for the championship.

“I was a little tired in that last match. I didn’t get much sleep because of New Year’s,” King said. “My New Year’s resolution is to push myself to the point of breaking.”

King reached his breaking point when he wrestled 10 matches in two days at the Best of the West tournament. He persevered and placed second, along with teammate Brendan Casey.

“It was a great challenge,” King said. “You can already tell our guys have gotten better from going there and facing such good competition.”

Head coach John Carver said King, Casey and Huck have set the example for future Panther wrestlers to follow, along with fellow seniors John Barrette and Robert Melton.

“The year before, we had no finalists at Best of the West,” Carver said. “For our finalists this year to be two seniors who have been a part of our program for all four years is pretty rewarding. It’s living proof that if you put in the time and work hard, good things will happen.”

Huck appeared to be on the top of his game when he beat Stevenson’s Karl Bell 9-6 for the 140-pound championship. Bell tried to make a comeback in the third round, but Huck maintained his lead and focus throughout the 6-minute match.

“Since this was my last time wrestling in this tournament, I wanted to go out with a bang,” Huck said. “You just have to keep pushing through everything. No matter how hard it is, just keep going.”

Huck pinned Hockinson’s Austin Craven and Union’s Joel Gaines to reach the final round. Winning a Washougal championship gives the senior high hopes for the new year.

“I will place at state this year,” he said. “That’s my New Year’s resolution.”

The Panthers racked up 173 points to place third at the 11-team event. Union won with 202.5 points, and Stevenson followed in second with 197 points.

After beating Josiah Niemela of Hockinson and Beau Bryan of Black Hills, Casey settled for second place at 160 pounds. Tyler Purkeypyle defeated Aaron Meade of Black Hills and Matt Simon of Union for second place at 215. Ben McMullen pinned Hockinson’s Walker Gillespie and Union’s D.J. Anderson for second place at 285.

“Tyler and Ben push each other in practice each week, and we are starting to see the results,” Carver said.

Wyatt Eakins pinned Ridgefield’s Jacob Newell for third place at 103 pounds. Melton beat Garrison Stamp of Black Hills 10-4 for third place at 171. Zac Scheep (145 pounds), Taylor Neu (215) and Trent Johnson (285) finished fourth in their respective brackets.

“Every match, we’re trying to wrestle a full six minutes,” Carver said. “One of our goals after we left Best of the West is to score points in a varsity tournament at every weight class. We were able to do that a lot better today.”

The Washougal wrestlers host a junior varsity tournament Saturday. The girls are at the Hilander Invitational in Kelso, and the varsity boys are going to the Greyhound Invitational in Grandview.