Brothers Tanner and Scott Lees became champions of the Washougal River Dec. 29, which helped the Panthers win their hometown rumble for the first time in eight years.
“Abby, Tanner and Scott Lees treat the wrestling team as an extension of their own family,” said head coach John Carver. “We’re all just one big wrestling family, and it’s fun watching them have that success.”
After a first-round bye, Scott Lees pinned Fort Vancouver’s Vitality Sivvy, beat Castle Rock’s Myles Moon 12-4, and defeated teammate Cole Pass to win the 120-pound title.
“It feels good, because I’m a freshman,” Scott Lees said. “Cole and I have been wrestling each other for years, and this is the first time I beat him.”
Tanner Lees pinned all four of his opponents, including R.A. Long’s Owen Eniquez in the 145 finals.
“My brother just won first place, so I can’t get second,” Tanner Lees said. “This is something we’re always going to remember.”
Those championship victories for the Lees helped Washougal win the 13-team tournament, by 17 points better than R.A. Long.
Blake Webb and Pass earned second place for the Panthers. Tristan Elliott, Nick Wolfe, Michael Hickey and Dakota Andelman took third place. Dylan Kiemele, Hunter MacPhail, John Gable, Aaron Douglas and Mason Armstrong finished in fourth place.
Tanner Lees became the first Washougal wrestler to win the Best of the West tournament Dec. 22, in Pasco.
“We were so proud of the way he wrestled for himself and for Washougal over there,” Carver said. “To see him go through the bracket and beat four 3A guys, and one from the 4A, to win that title was just impressive.”
Lees said it felt great to get his hand raised after two grueling days of wrestling. The Panthers finished in fourth place in the “red team bracket,” the day before he won the 32-man individual tournament.
“I couldn’t have done it without all of my teammates cheering me on from the stands,” Lees said.
Carver said the Washougal River Rumble continues to thrive because of volunteers. Washougal wrestlers, parents and graduates from the program pitch in by keeping score, running the clocks, announcing the matches at hand, coaching the athletes and running the hospitality room.
“The strength of our program is our community support,” Carver said. “We couldn’t do it without the community that we have.”
Washougal wrestler Morgan Ratcliff directed the tournament for her senior project.
“Now I know how much work people put in on the tournaments that we all participate in,” she said. “It was a lot of fun being able to coordinate everything so it all ran as smooth as possible.”
Ratcliff is familiar with tackling challenges head-on. This time around, she learned how to delegate. Giving jobs to others helped take some of the weight off her shoulders.
“It was awesome to see our Panther boys win this tournament,” Ratcliff said. “For all their friends and family to be here and support them made all those hours worth it.”
Washougal squashed Woodland 55-18 in the first league showdown of the season Tuesday, at Woodland High School.
Dylan Davis, Scott Lees, Pass, Jason Powell, Elliott, Tanner Lees, Gable, Wolfe, Hickey and Armstrong won their matches for the Panthers.
The Washougal boys enter the Grandview Invitational Saturday, while the girls wrestle at the Kelso Invitational.
Ridgefield and Washougal compete in a double-duel at Mark Morris Wednesday.