Seven wrestlers representing the Grays Harbor Choker Wrestling Club earned a spot on the podium at the United World Wrestling National Championships at the CHI Health Convention Center in Omaha, Nebraska Nov. 13-15.
The three-day event featured top talent from across the country in both the Junior and Under-23 age divisions across three wrestling disciplines, with winners in each weight class securing a bid in next year’s Senior and Junior World Team Trials.
The Choker Wrestling Club, which includes grapplers that also wrestle for Grays Harbor College, sent 16 wrestlers to the event competing in both Junior and U23 classes.
Choker WC’s Sione Halo placed higher than any other locally-affiliated wrestler, defeating Tristan Wilson (Service, CA) 12-7 for third place in the Junior 97 kilogram weight class of the Greco-Roman competition.
Three additional Choker WC wrestlers placed in the Greco-Roman event.
Octavio Alejande finished fourth with a 5-2 loss to Trent Ragland of Cougar WC in the U23 130KG 3rd-4th place match. Desmond Bowers placed 6th in the Junior 77KG class while teammate Dalton Swayze took 8th in the Junior 77KG competition.
Three Choker WC women’s wrestlers placed on the podium in the freestyle discipline. Kamilla Montenegro and Tatum Pine each took 6th place in their respective weight classes, Montenegro in the Junior 76KG class and Pine at Junior 57KG.
Montenegro also competed in the U23 76KG weight class and placed seventh after winning by injury default over Myranda Velasquez (unattached).
The event featured over 20 previous champions from 2019, which was one of the attractions for head coach Kevin Pine.
“It was a great experience for our club to go head to head with the best wrestlers in the country,” he wrote in an email. “In fact, in the opening round for the U23 women’s division, all four of our wrestlers drew a world medalist or a world team member. Needless to say, it was a tough round, but that is why we went. In order to be the best we have to wrestle the best.”
Pine, who also coaches the Grays Harbor College wrestling team, added he was pleased with what he saw from his wrestlers in their first test of an uncertain season.
”Considering we had an abbreviated preseason training regimen and jumped immediately into a national event, I was pleased with our results. We picked up a number of wins and wrestled tough throughout the weekend,” he wrote. “We are not sure what the rest of the season holds for us at this time, but we will continue training and will be ready for the next opportunity, where and whenever it will be.”
At a preseason event on Nov. 5 in Aberdeen, Pine said that he, his coaching staff and several of his wrestlers will continue to find ways to compete, regardless if there is a collegiate season on the horizon or not.
“I cannot guarantee what we will have for a season,” he said. “But when there is an opportunity, we’ll be ready. We’ll train like there is a national championship and find as much competition as possible.”