Siletz Warriors hungry in the new year

The Warriors’ Joshley Howell finished second at 220 pounds during the Toledo-Siletz Invitational, but Howell expects a big year for himself and his teammates. (Photos by Nugesse Ghebrendrias)

“We go one match at a time, one person at a time. We wrestle who they put in front of us.” — Darin Rilatos

SILETZ — The Siletz Warriors wrestling team is ready for the new year.

From top to bottom, the heaviest to the lightest, the Warriors want to make some noise during the wrestling season, with their first home meet of the season around the corner (Thursday, Jan.16).

Although the Warriors have yet to host a home match this season, they recently finished up a joint event at the Toledo-Siletz Invitational.

Kenneth Johnston finished second in the heavyweight division, Joshley Howell reached second at 220 pounds, Tyee Yanez finished in third place at 120 pounds and Harry Smith rounded out the top four at 152 pounds.

It was a strong showing by the Warriors, but overall, a good warm-up event before Thursday’s home meet.

“It should be a good one,” Johnston said during practice. “There are going to be a lot of good teams there.”

Johnston, a wrestler since the eighth grade, competes in the heavyweight class for the Warriors. He had a strong showing in Toledo over the weekend, but his goal is much bigger than a few good matches.

“The goal is to place at state as a team, definitely,” he said.

But Johnston isn’t the only Warrior looking to dominate in the new year. Yanez just finished in the top three at the Toledo-Siletz Invitational, and Howell, who took a year off, is ready to make up for lost time.

“I was pretty excited to come into the season because my freshman year I ended up going to state at 195 pounds, but then last year I took off some time because wrestling didn’t really feel like my thing at the time,” Howell said.

That didn’t stop the Siletz junior. He battled through his indecision and came back out for the wrestling team. It was perfect timing as the team has the talent to win a lot of points in 2020. Howell went to state as a freshman and looks to return, but this time at a lighter weight division.

“State was a pretty cool experience because I was able to wrestle with one of Siletz’s first state champions in a long time,” Howell said. “But I hope to return this year.”

Regardless of the size of school, there is no question about the heart and grit the Warriors have.

They are ready to take on any and all challenges on their way to a state appearance.

“We just want to focus on getting our kids into the best possible shape that we can,” assistant coach Darin Rilatos said. “We don’t look too far into the future, we focus on what is in front of us, and the rest will take care of itself.”

The boys practice almost three hours a day, four to five days a week, and that includes physical training and also work on techniques.

Mental fitness is important, as well.

“Having the experience we have, it bodes well for them moving forward. State is a whole other level than any other tournament, from 6A to 1A is all there in the same gym, all at the same time,” Rilatos said. “They won’t get overwhelmed because they have been there before.”

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