East Jefferson wrestlers earn slim win on Senior Night

Posted 2/2/23

The East Jefferson Rivals wrestling teams brought it all to the mat last Tuesday as the home team gained a hard-earned victory over the Life Christian Eagles in their second and final home meet of …

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East Jefferson wrestlers earn slim win on Senior Night


The East Jefferson Rivals wrestling teams brought it all to the mat last Tuesday as the home team gained a hard-earned victory over the Life Christian Eagles in their second and final home meet of the season.

Winning 37-35, the Rivals and Eagles were in a back-and-forth battle as EJ’s seniors celebrated the final time stepping on the mat in the Port Townsend High School gym.

“It was nice that they got to go on the mat and show what they’ve been doing for the past two months,” EJ Head Coach Steve Grimm said of his seniors and the rest of the program.

“It’s a hard sport, so they’ve been working really hard and it was their time to show everybody, ‘Look what I can do,’” he added.

The junior varsity grapplers kicked off the meet with some impressive work, and some Rivals-on-Rivals action as Levi Baylor, James Cook, Sam Lampert, Gabe Evans, Levi Donahue, and Hunter Heim each brought their best.

Following the junior varsity and exhibition matches, the wrestlers took a break to honor the 11 Rivals seniors as they celebrated their final high school home meet.

Then the lights dimmed.

As the EJ home crowd began buzzing with varsity anticipation, the iconic AC/DC hit “Thunderstruck” blasted through the gymnasium. Gushing through the door, EJ’s wrestlers sprang to the mat, circling and warming up with a roaring home crowd behind them.

The Rivals got loose and EJ’s Beau Manuel kicked off the varsity matchups at the 285-pound weight class. Manuel fought hard, but was bested as the opening loss foreshadowed a close matchup between the Eagles and Rivals.

Ivy Hill of the Rivals was next up in the 132-pound weight division, displaying dazzling dominance and maintaining top position over his opponent. Hill went on to secure the second-round pin.

Most of the Rivals wrestlers had their chance to show out, although grapplers Manaseh Lanphear Ramirez, Hunter Heim, and Sam Lampert won their matches via forfeit.

Ike Banks was on the mat next, demonstrating top technique with a collection of takedowns, smooth transitions, and strength. Hyping the crowd up with his quick skills, Banks won the match in the second round with a pin.

Jameson Henery continued the momentum with a commendable display, patiently timing the takedown and winning in points in the 160-pound weight division.

Devon Bennett Anderson was next for the 220-pound weight class in a chippy matchup. During the match, Bennett Anderson received a late push off the mat that resulted in an unnecessary roughness call from the referee. Bennett Anderson went on to lose by pin.

For the heavyweight class, Lars Wakefield battled it out, eventually losing by points.

One of the biggest and most anticipated matches of the night was Mi Amada Lanphear Ramirez — currently ranked No. 3 in Washington state in the 110-pound girls weight division — taking on No. 10-ranked Elijah Miller of the Eagles.

Both competitors demonstrated incredible technique, with Miller’s crafty control and Lanphear Ramirez’s liquid-smooth transitions making for a popcorn-worthy watch. The two state-ranked wrestlers went back and forth, but Miller ended on top to win via points.

The night closed out with Chloe Lampert losing her matchup by points, Grady White showing solid control to win via points, and Melody Douglas earning the win with a pin to close out the matchup.

As the dust settled, the Rivals were on top with a 37-35 Senior Night victory.

Recalling the electric crowd energy throughout, Grimm said, “We had a lot of parents and fans that showed up, but the other thing is a lot of the students came to support other students.”

Adding to the gym’s energy were the EJ boys and girls basketball teams, who canceled that day’s practice to support the wrestling teams.

“That was really nice to have the crowd roaring when someone would win or do a good move,” Grimm said.

“We were pushing for a big crowd and we got it,” said Jim Wilcox, head coach of the girls wrestling team.

At the end of the night, it was all about the seniors.

“I think it’s more of a bigger deal to the seniors to get a good win and a team win for their Senior Night,” Grimm said. “It was really important to them and they pulled it off, and I think we got every senior a match, which was important too.”

“It’s good for the seniors to go out in a blaze, but the freshmen are hot on their heels, and they’ve been driving them all year,” Wilcox said of the program’s young pool of grapplers.

For the wrestling program’s coaches, the motivation and perseverance goes both ways.

“It’s the commitment that they make. That’s what makes me and my coaches show up every day,” Grimm said. “These kids show up every day, they work hard, they stay after practice. They’re giving 110 percent and they’re giving so much effort that it’s inspirational to us coaches.”

With the regular season almost over, the focus is on Regionals. EJ hopes to eventually bring multiple grapplers to the Tacoma Dome for State.

“Now the pressure’s on, and now we’ve got to try and get primed into perfect athletic condition for that state tournament, and there’s also a lot of stuff we’ve got to do with the mind to make sure they’re confident that they can do it,” Grimm said.

Next on the girls team’s plate is the sub-regional meet south of Tacoma on Saturday, Feb. 4.

The next stop for the girls team is White River.

“We’re looking forward to all of our girls getting down there,” Wilcox said.

“We’re hoping to get a huge group going to state, but you never know what can happen in the postseason,” Grimm said. “We say everybody’s 0-0 at the end and every win will get you closer to that state medal.”