Yelm’s wrestling program is set to return to the mats on Monday, Nov. 14 for the 2022-23 season. After a fifth place team finish at the 2022 Mat Classic and plenty of state returners, the team has strong expectations from their coach.
Head coach Gaylord Strand, who is entering his 49th year as a wrestling coach, believes the state placers from last season will come in with plenty of fire in their hearts this year.
Returning state placers from the 2022 Mat Classic include junior Brayden Platt (fourth place), senior Ray Wright (fourth place), senior William Carreto (fifth place), and sophomore Lake Harris (seventh place).
Seniors Daniel Snyder and Jordan Katona, and sophomore Tate Oberhansley also got positive shout outs from their coach. Strand said the three had strong 2022 campaigns. Snyder missed out on placing at the 2022 Mat Classic by one match, according to Strand.
“We’ve got a pretty good group of state returners coming back. We’ll have seven of those guys,” Strand said. “I think that everyone who placed at the Mat Classic last year should place higher this year. Some of the other guys won their matches but didn’t qualify, and will come back with fire in their heart this year too.”
Strand said he expects a slow start to the 2022-23 season, as a noticeable portion of his team will be playing under the lights for the Tornados football team. Platt, Wright and Carreto each play pivotal roles for both the football and wrestling teams.
“Some of our young guys will have to step up while they’re taking care of business on the football field,” Strand said.
The team returns 27 wrestlers from the previous year. Newcomers are also expected to join the team, which Strand said should provide a great foundation for his program.
The first tournament of the year is on Dec. 3 at Edmonds Woodway High School. Following the tournament, the team will begin its South Sound Conference matchups on Tuesday, Dec. 6 with a home matchup against the Gig Harbor Tides. The junior varsity will wrestle at 6 p.m., with the varsity to follow.
Their next matchup is on Thursday, Dec. 8 as the team is set to travel to Timberline High School for its second South Sound Conference matchup of the season. Following the matchup with the Blazers, the team will head to Centralia on Saturday, Dec. 10 for the annual Bearcat tournament.
“We’re going to have seven home matches this year and we’re hoping to see a strong turnout from our community,” Strand said.
The action will continue on Thursday, Dec. 15 when the team hosts Peninsula for another South Sound Conference matchup.
Strand and his team will face Lakeside High School (Seattle) in a home matchup on Dec. 21. Strand said he’s particularly excited for the matchup because Lakeside is coached by a former college teammate of his.
“That matchup will be very fun,” he said. “They have a young team. We’ll match up our guys against their guys to ensure solid matchups.”
Strand said the team’s biggest tournament of the year is Gutcheck, which is on Dec. 30 and Dec. 31.
“Overall, I’m pretty excited. I just hope we get everyone back and healthy,” Strand said. “We’re not going to be ready for the early season, just because our success on the football field is looking so good. We’ll get a late start.”
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