Yelm Twisters Crown Champion at WSWA Folkstyle State Wrestling Tournament


Three grapplers from the Yelm Twisters earned a spot on the podium after the group sent seven wrestlers to compete in the WSWA Folkstyle state wrestling tournament on Feb. 19 at the Tacoma Dome.

Head Coach Ben Hawk said the biggest surprise of the tournament was when Kinley Rabalais, in the U6 classification, won the championship in the 32 to 35 pound weight class.

Jayden Hipp, with the 8U classification in the 70-pound weight division, was a finalist and finished in second place at the tournament. Hipp’s teammate Elijah Ouko placed third and wrestled in the 10U classification in the 120-plus pound division.

“We focus on fundamentals of different positions that are commonly seen in folkstyle. We like to keep it fun, but we’re competitive because we have so many sign up,” Hawk said. “Our focus is to let wrestling be fun and to teach kids who are curious about learning about the sport. It’s a tough sport.”

With the success Yelm High School’s wrestling program has achieved, Hawk feels it’s important to begin developing wrestlers at a young age.

Next season, Hawk said the league will feature an all girls postseason bracket. He is also looking for more girls to join the program. This year, the team featured between 30 and 40 girls, or about 40% of the team.

“The female division in college saved the sport of wrestling. We’ve had girls from Yelm go on to college to wrestle, and it’s great to see that we’re ahead of the game in expanding our female division as well,” Hawk said. “I view Yelm as a flagship city for girls wrestling.”

The Twisters field a team built of 4 year olds to 12 year olds. The Twisters are in a 20-team division that spans from Montesano to Kent. Hawk said the league is based off of the high school season and features different team competitions and tournaments.

The Twisters are currently in their club season for freestyle and greco. Hawk, who is thankful to be a coach in a community that values wrestling, said they will send wrestlers to nationals this July in Fargo, North Dakota.

“We give back to the community. All of us coaches wrestled,” Hawk said. “Most of us are dads who have kids that wrestled. We just want to keep interest alive in the oldest sport in the world.”