Mount Baker’s Killian Cronk, left, wrestles Lynden’s Levi Oostra during the Battle at the Border meet at Blaine High School on Saturday, Dec. 9. Cronk and Oostra are two locals to keep an eye on this season. (Nick Elges/Lynden Tribune)

Former Nooksack head coach Chad Parson now at Lynden

LYNDEN — After leading the Nooksack Valley wrestling program for the last 10 seasons, Chad Parson takes over at the helm of the Lynden boys this season to lead a Lions’ team on the rise. 

Parson moved to Lynden with his family after resigning at Nooksack over the summer. The Lynden wrestling program had a need for a head coach, so Parson jumped on the opportunity. 

Highlighting the Lions this season is junior Pablo Martinez, a 2017 state qualifier. Coach Parson also said juniors Payton Scott and Levi Oostra and senior Cole Crass, who is currently recovering from a football injury, should compete for spots in the February Class 2A state meet in the Tacoma Dome. 

“We are young this year, so our main goal is really to just focus in and build our technique,” Parson said. “Obviously, we want to take as many to state as possible. That’s always the goal.” 

Ricardo Cruz is the only other senior on Lynden’s varsity roster. Others on the team are juniors Angelberto Chavez, Carlos Ortiz, Adrian Velasquez, Kevin Antonio and Houston DeJong; sophomores Ethan Peterson-Scotter, Bodie Human and Eduardo Saldana; and freshman Jose Rodriguez. 

Lynden took part in the Battle at the Border meet in Blaine over the weekend, finishing 10th out of 22 teams with 93 points. Martinez took second at 120 pounds, Oostra was fourth at 145 and Scott was fifth at 182. 

The Lions take on Burlington-Edison and 

Anacortes in Burlington tonight at 6 p.m. Lynden then heads to the Lindbergh Invitational in Renton on Saturday at 10 a.m. 

Lynden girls looking  to grow

LYNDEN — Led by coach Santos Gallegos, the Lynden girls wrestling team features a talented mix of young wrestlers. 

According to coach Gallegos, juniors Cameron Oliver (130 pounds) and Blythe Torok (115) and sophomore Janet Baldovinos (120) are among the Lions’ top wrestlers, saying that all three have a good chance of reaching the state meet.

“Our main goal this season is to grow as a team,” Gallegos said. “We have such a young team that we just need to focus on small goals and help (the girls) grow in the sport.” 

The rest of Lynden’s roster includes: seniors Brandi Vis and Kelly Lara; juniors Aaliyah Gallegos, Jennifer Lopez and Eden Wadhams; sophomores Crystal Cuellar, Marta Delgadillo and Brisseyda Ramirez; and freshmen Natalie Rodriguez, Hailie Holestine and Beatriz Briceno.

The Lions host Burlington-Edison for a dual match tonight at 6 p.m. The program then hosts its annual Pride of the Lady Lions tournament on Saturday at 10 a.m. 

Coach Lepper returns for Baker boys

DEMING — A familiar face is back at the helm of the Mount Baker boys wrestling program, as longtime head coach Ron Lepper returns after taking a three-year hiatus.

Lepper, who was inducted into the Washington State Wrestling Coaches’ Hall of Fame in 2016, previously coached the Mountaineers from 1994 to 2014 before stepping down. During that time, more than 100 individuals, both boys and girls, placed at state for Baker and 14 won state titles. 

“When I stepped away, I needed to step away,” said Lepper, who has also coached the Mount Baker football team for 22 seasons and the school’s softball team for 13 seasons. “I just thought it was time to give it a second chance.” 

Those wrestling for Lepper this season include senior Jonathon Sanchez (152 pounds) and junior Skyler Isaacson (145), both state participants last season. Other juniors include Gordon Olson and Braden Shannon while the team’s sophomore class includes Gryphon Heiner, Jordan Craker, Chance Olson and Kanin Moa. 

Freshmen Killian Cronk, Nico Johnson, Eli Freeman, Tucker Bourassa and Colby Wagar are all wrestling on varsity this season. The five freshmen make up a good chunk of Baker’s 14 varsity wrestlers.

“They’ve done a nice job of coming in and buying into what we are trying to get done,” Lepper said. “The freshmen are key; if they stick with it, they have a chance to lay the foundation of getting Mount Baker wrestling back to where it has been before.” 

Baker competed in the Battle at the Border meet in Blaine over the weekend, finishing 15th out of 22 teams with 58 points. Cronk finished fifth at 145 pounds while Moa took sixth at 220 pounds. 

The Mounties are at Nooksack Valley against Sedro-Woolley and Lakewood tonight at 7 p.m. The team then heads to the Cashmere Invite on Saturday at 10 a.m. 

Youth movement  for Baker girls

DEMING — The Mount Baker girls wrestling team, which finished fourth at the state meet last February, is faced with the task of replacing some key wrestlers from last season’s team. 

Two-time defending state champion Emma Bruntil, who was set to be a senior at Mount Baker this year, moved to Pennsylvania to attend a private school and focus more closely on her wrestling career.  Graduate Korbyn Cadle, a senior last season who took sixth at 120 pounds at state, is another obvious loss for the Mounties. 

Lone senior Gabrielle Mata stands out on this year’s roster as she took sixth at state at 110 pounds last season for coach Clyde Blockley’s team. 

Juniors include Esperanza and Maria Torrero, Shelby Sears and Jada Tarvin; sophomores are Alyssa Lenssen, Olivia Moa, Rebekah Rollins, DJ Camacho, Genessee Cooper, and McKenzie Amarando; and the team’s freshmen are Kyleee Kelley, Ebonney Bowhay, Emma Wright and Madisyn Norris. 

Mount Baker is next in action at the Pride of Lynden Tournament at Lynden High School on Saturday at 10 a.m. 

Nooksack boys begin new era

EVERSON — A new head coach leads the Nooksack Valley boys wrestling team as Jesse Branham takes over for Chad Parson, who led the program for 10 seasons before shifting to Lynden this season. 

Graduates Tyson Mergel, who took eighth at 285 pounds in Class 1A at state, and state qualifier Valentin Villalobos are the biggest losses from last season for the Pioneers. 

Nooksack’s lone senior is Brenan Blankers at 152 pounds, and the junior is Marvin Calmo at 106 pounds. The sophomore class for the team includes Anthony Villalobos, Braden Leyba, Cameron Bauman, Gabe Diersing, Hunter Morgan and Juan Melero. 

The Pioneers host matches against Sedro-Woolley and Lakewood tonight starting at 6 p.m. Nooksack’s next action is Dec. 20 at the Mount Baker Invitational. 

Lady Pioneers return state qualifiers

EVERSON — Led by coach Alex Parson, the Nooksack Valley girls wrestling team returns several state participants from last season’s roster.

Senior Grace Himango managed eighth at 190 pounds in the Tacoma Dome last February while senior Becca Averys (155) and junior Leticia Garcia (170) also competed at state for the Pioneers. 

Others on Nooksack’s roster include senior Cheyanne Hoffman, juniors Kim Mendoza and America Ortiz and sophomore Darlene Zarate. 

The Pioneers are at the Sedro-Woolley Scramble tonight at 6 p.m. and head to Lynden for the Pride of Lynden tournament on Saturday at 10 a.m. 

Experience, newcomers for Meridian boys

LAUREL — A collection of state qualifiers and new talent shape the roster for the Meridian boys wrestling team, which is coached by Wade Brzozowski. 

Seniors Jake Cheney (138 pounds) and Manny Sabalza (160) each qualified for state last season and are strong bets to do so again this winter. 

The rest of the team includes: senior Martin Pfannenstiel; juniors Brayden Zender, Nathan Nolasco, Jurshawn Pina-Wilson and Daniel Frianeza; sophomores Arturo Madrigal, Isaac Carrion, Noe Nolasco, Jose Malave and Austin Anderson; and freshmen Roman Shintar, Matthew Hudson and Nate Rutledge. 

Meridian takes on Sehome and Bellingham in dual matches tonight at Sehome High School at 6 p.m. The Trojans then head to the Paul Reiman Classic at Mount Vernon High School on Saturday at 10 a.m.

Meridian girls add numbers

LAUREL — The Meridian girls wrestling team encompasses six wrestlers in total this season after just one girl, Julie De La Cruz, competed for the Trojans last winter. 

Juniors Rubijean Stuit and Kaitlyn Squire, sophomores Jocelyn Tovar and Madison Nelson and freshmen Lillian Mickelson and Tenley Swope fill the roster for Meridian. De La Cruz is not listed on the team’s roster after taking fourth place at 120 pounds at state last March. 

The Trojans are at the Sedro-Woolley Scramble tonight at 6 p.m. and will be in action in Lynden’s Pride of Lynden Tournament on Saturday at 10 a.m.