Starting the season off with a nail-biter is becoming a Lake Stevens High School Wrestling tradition. Last year, the Vikings began the season with a back-and-forth dual against Tahoma that was decided in the Viking's favor in the night's last match. This year's season opener looks like it'll be another close contest: it's another home dual against Tahoma.
The dual, on Friday, Dec. 6 at 6:30 p.m., features last year's 4A state runner-up (Tahoma) against last year's 4A state champion, Lake Stevens. Last year the Vikings edged out Tahoma throughout the season, beating them narrowly in the opening dual and at the Matman tournament in January before beating them again at the state tournament.
The Vikings are hoping to pick up where they left off last year. Not only did the Vikings win the state 4A team title last year, but they won all three of their finals matches to place three individual champions, more than any other team.
Repeating last year's success might not be so easy, though. Lake Stevens graduated a strong senior class, including two-time state champion Eric Soler, state champion Brandon Johnson, and state placers Shaquille Reed, Jesse Peterson, and Blake Sander.
However, the Vikings had one of the strongest underclassman showings at last year's state tournament. Four state participants are returning: Alex Rodorigo, Ruben Crew, Wyatt Bell, and Logan Johnson. Along with that, they return three fourth-place finishers - AJ Crew, Jake Douglas, and Cody Vigoren - and state champion Michael Soler.
The Vikings also have the notable addition of two-time state champion Noah Cuzzetto, a senior who moved into the Lake Stevens school district during the offseason. Cuzzetto has committed to wrestle at St. Cloud State University next year.
After the dual with Tahoma, Lake Stevens continues its season with a home dual against Wesco rival Kamiak at 7 p.m. on Dec. 10. The Vikings' biggest test of the month comes on Dec. 20 at the Tri-State Tournament, where the Vikings placed fourth last year.