Coaches can wait for years for that one special athlete to walk through the door.
Chiawana wrestling coach Jack Anderson has bided his time, and now he has a quartet of freshmen who will make waves for years to come.
Freshmen Robby Vaughn (106 pounds), Rey Aranda (132), Tyson Stover (138) and Riley Cissne (145) all won district titles for the Riverhawks last weekend, and will look to add regional gold to their collection of medals when action gets under way Friday at Hanford High School.
“I have seen them since they were little, wrestling with each other or against each other,” Anderson said. “Their experience on the mat between them is hundreds more matches than all of the other guys combined. They are hard workers and put in a ton of time in the offseason. It will be a very bright next few years with the guys we have, and those coming up.”
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The 4A regional tournament will begin at 4:30 p.m. Friday and will resume at 9:30 a.m. Saturday. Finals are slated to begin at 2:30 p.m. The top four wrestlers in each weight class will advance to the state tournament next week in Tacoma.
All four freshmen have sterling records, and three of the four went undefeated in Mid-Columbia Conference duals.
Stover took the one loss, bumping up a couple of weight classes against Kamiakin, where he lost a 5-3 decision to Sione Halo at 152 pounds.
“He helped us win the match,” Anderson said of the 31-30 victory over the Braves. “We would have had to have forfeited if not for him doing that.”
The Riverhawks’ freshman quartet has been together since they were about 8 years old. They have wrestled in a various youth programs, including Big River, which features quite a few Chiawana kids.
They attended two different grade schools in Pasco, but all four attended McLoughlin Middle School, where they were coached by Robert Reid.
The wrestling lessons continued, much to the sacrifice of Rob and Laura Vaughn, whose two-car garage was converted into a wrestling room for their son with an 18 by 20-foot wrestling mat.
Robby Vaughn said even in the worst of the winter weather, his mom’s car remains outside.
“She knows it’s not going to happen,” he said of the car getting some garage time. “The mat’s been in there since I was 6.”
Inside the garage, the boys learned the basics and had a place to wrestle when there was no where else to go. Over the years, they have spent countless hours drilling there and dubbed themselves the Garage Boyz.
“They are just a great bunch of kids,” Rob Vaughn said. “They are polite and respectful. They are a self-motivated bunch of kids. They go above and beyond expectations.”
Meet the boys
Robby Vaughn boasts a 42-3 record this season, with district and Best of the West titles to his credit.
Vaughn beat teammate Kevin Llamas by technical fall (16-0) in the district finals, and said he is ready for the next step, where he will be up against Sam McCormick of Camas at regionals.
“I hope to do my best and get the job done,” Vaughn said. “I’m not really nervous; I’ve been to bigger tournaments.”
Along with Llamas, Vaughn said he drills with quite a few of his teammates and coaches, which has helped him improve throughout the season.
“They have helped me out a lot this year,” he said. “More than I have gotten in the past. Everyone has something different to show you.”
Stover (28-8), who beat teammate Tavin Blair 11-2 in the district final, is excited to see his fellow freshmen doing so well.
“It really feels great,” he said. “We have such high expectations for each other. We have had that mentality since we were little. We are more than freshmen. We can go out and kick butt at tournaments. Even though we are freshmen, people know who we are, and we are coming after them.”
Stover also plays football and is on the Chiawana honor roll. He fell short of a 4.0 GPA when he received an A-minus in chemistry.
“I have an ‘A’ in team chemistry,” he said, smiling at his pun.
Chemistry in the wrestling room has helped Stover achieve his goals this season. He drills with senior Nathan Bengen (126 pounds), as well as others, but gives credit where it’s due.
“Nathan is a hard worker and he pushes me,” Stover said. “He’s pretty tough. He could be our first state champion.”
Aranda (21-3), who broke his wrist at Inland Empire (he still won the title) and missed a portion of the season, came back to beat teammate Jonathan Miranda 2-0 in the district final.
“It was a special moment for all of us to win at district,” Aranda said. “I think regionals will be the same. We have been working so hard. It will be just like any other tournament.”
Aranda quickly warmed to the prep wrestling scene, and high school, where he also is on the honor roll.
“We have all of these great coaches, and I have learned a lot in this program,” Aranda said. “I have had a lot of help from my drilling partner, Nathan Bengen. He gives me tips and has shown me the ropes.”
Cissne (35-10) had the biggest win of all the guys at district, beating Richland’s Patrick Workman 6-3 in the finals.
“That was the first time I had wrestled him,” Cissne said. “He was hurt when we wrestled them in league. I think it was unexpected that I beat him. Winning district was one of my goals from the beginning of the year. My main goal has been to make it to state.”
Being on the heavier end of the spectrum —at least compared to his fellow freshmen — Cissne has a wider variety of teammates to drill with, and he has learned from all of them.
“This year has been really fun,” said Cissne, who also is a standout baseball player and honor student. “It has been a privilege to to a part of this team. It is a team environment. There is a bond with your teammates, which is pretty cool.”