Men’s Wrestling

West Regional Championships

(Feb. 10, 2019)

Update from Head Coach Scott Norton

Well, it’s been a pretty crazy weekend.  We sent half our team over to Coeur D’Alene on Friday morning.  I was going to hop in our van but it made more sense to let another competitor go.The good news is six of our guys made it.  The bad news is two coaches and four starters could not make it to Idaho, or even out of our neighborhood to be honest.

Highline was led by Shandon Akeo, who made the finals by pinning his old rival Christian Balagso from Southwestern Oregon. Shandon ended up losing 11-7 to #2 ranked Jason Shaner. Shandon set the tone for the entire team.handon was also joined by 141 pounder Josh Franich who beat Brandon Gibson from Southwest Oregon 6-2, and then pinned Hasann Hawthorne from North Idaho to punch his ticket to the national tournament.  Josh did awesome he is a hammer in the top position.

Kettner Fields 165, lost to Izaiah Duran of NIC, but came back to qualify by pinning Justin Knight  from Southwestern Oregon to place 3rd.

Our 4th qualifier came at 174.  Connor Rosane qualified for the second time.  He beat Josh Hammers from Umpqua and then Trager Abatti from North Idaho to join the rest of the national qualifiers.

Ben Gore joined the party as he qualified by beating Christian Grover of NIC, and then he beat Umpqua’s Gottlieb Davis to finish 3rd.  Ben’s loan loss was to Trevor Senn of Clackamas..



2019 Highline Wrestling National Champion participants
Left to Right: Assistant Coach Kurt Swartz, Ketner Fields, Ben Gore, Shandon Akeo, Josh Franich (not pictured: Dan Allen)
photo by Matt Thomson (Highline Thunderword)

Our last qualifier was Dan Allen.  He finished fourth but has been wrestling very well over the last month. He was selected and given a wild card to the national tournament at 197 pounds.

We are very proud of the six men.  They have worked very hard this year and it’s showing.  Congratulations to all 6 national qualifiers, outstanding job.  Once the team returns and the weather clears we will make a push for the National Tournament in Council Bluffs, Iowa on March 1 and 2.

National Qualifiers are listed below.
133 Shandon Akeo 2nd
141 Josh Franich 3rd
165 Kettner Fields 3rd
174 Connor Rosane 3rd
184 Ben Gore 3rd
197 Dan Allen 4th

Academic Champions

On the mat, the Highline College Wrestling Team is very good.  In the classroom, it is a juggernaut.  The team, with a cumulative grade point average of 3.34, based on its 10 starters and two extra wrestlers, won the 2018 NJCAA National Academic Championship, the 4th time the program has won this award in nine years.  This is more than any other NJCAA college wrestling program.  The coaching staff, led by Head Coach Scott Norton and lead assistant coach Brad Luvaas, focus on academics so their student-athletes can successfully transfer and continue their athletic and educational pursuits at a four-year college or university.


The Open Mat published a 2017 interview with Wrestling Head Coach Scott Norton, highlighting the Highline College Wrestling Program and his success in developing one of the top programs in the Pacific Northwest.
Read the interview here.

From the interview:

Your program won back to back Academic National Championships in 2014 and 2015 becoming the first program to accomplish that feat.  How much of a sense of pride does that bring to you?

“I think it’s a pretty big deal.  It shows that our college and program have a tremendous commitment towards education.  We have actually canceled meets and pulled out of tournaments because we didn’t feel our team was where they were supposed to be academically.  I am an educator myself.  I have taught 5th grade since 2000 and the entire time I have been coaching at Highline.  Technically, I have pretty much had two full-time jobs for 15 years.  I’m sure my academic expectations have rubbed off on our teams.  We also communicate to our team the importance of going to class daily and doing well in school.  I am very proud of what our team has achieved academically.” Scott Norton

Dr. Coyte Cooper, an entrepreneur, author, former university professor, and NCAA All-American wrestler who competed  under Scott Norton, has given a TEDx talk entitled Perspective Sparks Potential (link).  In the video, Dr. Cooper encourages people to actively seek out the lesson in the adversity that they experience. Once we learn to shift our perspective, what we once thought of as a negative situation is actually a gift that propels life to an extraordinary level.

Highline College Wrestling Boosters

John Aiken – Former Auburn Head Coach
Brian Alphi – Edmonds Woodway Head Coach
James Barfinch
Chris Boeger
Robin Buban
Frederic Bunnag
Douglas Burnham – Tahoma High Assistant
Chris Chambers – Spanaway Lake Head Coach
Ricky Christian –  3 x Tahoma State Champ
Jody Coleman – Orting High Head Coach
Jason Conley
Lou Ann Crook
Taylor and Nathan Curry
Chris Feist – Tahoma High Head Coach
Brandon Forster
Pam Gabel
Dave Gilbertson – Referee and Washington Wrestling Promoter
Steve Hadsel – Former Highline Assistant

Steve Hood
Matt Iwicki – UW Wrestler
Kyle Jones
Rick Kelley
Brad Luvaas – Highline Assistant Coach
Martin Martinez
Andy Marty
Elias Mason – Highline All-American
John McBride
Jim McCullough
Kevin McDaniel
Rory McDonald – Hazen High Head Coach
Kevin McNulty – Head Coach ILWACO High
Taylor Meeks – Current Oregon State Assistant
Anji Monta
Phred and Laurie Morin
Mark Nickels
Randy Negley

Lynn Nodgile
Derek Norton – Former Highline Wrestler
Scott Norton – Highline Head Coach
Guy Omanaka
By Pham
Susan Richardson
Richard Rockwell – Head Coach in Oregon
John Snediker
John Sneva
Matt Smith
Sonnen Family – Tri-Pak
Suplex City
Tahoma Junior Bears
Toro Wrestling
Kirk White – Former Boise St. Assistant/Highline Assistant
Mike Wooding
Wooding Family
Yelm Twisters
Chris Zocco