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Washington grapplers pursue hardware at state tournament

Feb. 16—The nine area grapplers competing at today's Washington Class 2A state wrestling tournament have developed their craft through their respective wrestling programs to reach the Tacoma Dome in Tacoma, Wash.

A majority of Pullman's state qualifiers — Evan McDougle (132 pounds), Israel Acosta (144), Ivan Acosta (150), Aydin Peltier (157) and Sam Sears (215) — have been wrestling together since they could lace a pair of shoes.

The same goes for Clarkston's stable of Dawson Bailey (132), Tommy Samuels (138) and Bodee Thivierge (144).

The only Bantam without substantial experience is freshman MaKenzie Weza (106), who's been wrestling for 14 months.

"It's basically unheard of anymore," Clarkston coach Corey Thivierge explained. "These kids wrestle all year round, and she wrestled all year round in the offseason."

Weza's older brother, Gabe, got her involved with the sport, and the pair attended Lionheart wrestling practices in the offseason, which is a Pullman grappling club.

"They'd go up to the loft 2-3 times a week," Thivierge said. "And she's only been wrestling for 14 months, but she has as much wrestling experience as kids with 2-3 years of mat time because she doesn't have an offseason."

Thivierge gave Weza the nickname "Caila Rice 2.0," which is pretty high praise for the upstart grappler.

Rice won the boys and girls portion of the Clearwater Classic at Lewiston High School in 2022 and placed second at State the same year.

"She'll be fun to watch for the next few years," Thivierge said of Weza. "She shows no emotions, is always ready to wrestle, and seems prepared, just like Caila."

Podium opportunities aplenty for Pullman

Brothers Ivan and Israel Acosta have both had stellar seasons so far.

Israel, a sophomore, won the Tri-State wrestling tournament at North Idaho College on Dec. 16 and notched a runner-up finish at Gut Check on Dec. 29.

Ivan, a senior, finished third and fourth at the same events.

"I think at State anything can happen," Pullman coach Marcus Crossler said. "But as a biased coach, I think they have a shot — a real shot of winning it."

This will be Ivan's final chance to add state champion to his illustrious grappling resume.

"It'd be awesome to put his name in the mat room," Crossler said. "They're both leaders, vocally and physically, in the mat room."

Ivan's fellow senior, Peltier, also has an opportunity for some hardware to conclude his high school career.

The 157-pounder missed the start of the season due to a wrist injury, but once he got healthy, he didn't miss a step.

"He's been on fire since coming back from the injury," Crossler said. "He walked through Districts and had some decent matches at Regionals. ... He has a lot of experience and is another kid that has been in the Pullman wrestling community forever."

McDougle, a senior, has been wrestling for Crossler since he was four years old.

McDougle put in a lot of work this offseason to reach the Tacoma Dome.

"He just decided that missing State last year was going to be his motivating factor," Crossler said. "He put the time in during the offseason, worked out in the Acosta garage and continued to work in the regular season."

Colfax, Pomeroy competing in 1B/2B

The Bulldogs and Pirates will have a combined four wrestlers competing at the Washington Class 1B/2B state grappling tournament today at the Tacoma Dome.

Ty Scott (106 pounds), Cooper Phillips (126) and Dillion Gassenberg will be in action for the Bulldogs, and Curtis Winona (190) will represent the Pirates.

Pixley may be contacted at tpixley@lmtribune.com, (208) 848-2268 or on Twitter @TreebTalks.