Washougal wrestlers split home double

Panthers topple Fort Vancouver after losing tiebreaker to Prairie

The Washougal Panthers and the Prairie Falcons wrestled to a 34-34 tie in the first match of a double-duel Dec. 15, at Washougal High School.

AJ Christianson and Taylor Leifsen gained back-to-back victories for Washougal, while Prairie earned four wins on the mat. The rest of the matches were forfeits. Prairie was awarded with the tiebreaker, based on total matches won, 4-2.

Washougal overwhelmed Fort Vancouver in the second duel, 60-18. Dylen Cherry, Tanner Lees, John Grable, Christianson, Leifsen and Mason Armstrong pinned their opponents for the Panthers. Hunter MacPhail, Michael Hickey, Tanner Klopman and Urich Reyes won by forfeit.

“It felt like Washougal,” Christianson said. “When everyone wins like that, it makes us feel like a family. All our hard work pays off.”

Klopman, Mason Meyer, Andrew Hopple, Jeffery Wells, Mason Locke, Hunter VanDaam and Aaron Douglas earned championship medals for Washougal at the Fort Vancouver junior varsity tournament Saturday.

The Washougal girls team finished in fifth place out of the 31 schools at the Hammerhead Invitational, in the Kitsap Sun Pavilion. Baylee Wright, Mialisa Oster and Christina Murray clinched third-place medals.

The Washougal boys varsity team was unable to make it to the Best of the West tournament, in Pasco, due to severe weather in the Columbia River Gorge.

The Panthers take a break from wrestling this week for the holidays. The Washougal River Rumble occurs Saturday, Jan. 2, at Washougal High School. Matches begin at 10 a.m.

Christianson wants to help the Panthers defend their league championship. He also hopes fellow seniors Leifsen, Reyes and Ruben Aguilar join him in his quest to win a state medal from the Tacoma Dome.

“I’ve wrestled with these guys throughout middle school and high school, and I’ve known [Leifsen] for even longer,” Christianson said. “Just to finish that way with them would be really good.”

Wrestling at state for the first time last season was an eye-opener for Christianson. He won his first match 2-1, before inexperience got the best of him.

“It showed me what one point can do in a match,” Christianson said. “Don’t do risky, moves, stand on my feet and get that first takedown. That’s a great step to winning.”