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Originally published Saturday, December 8, 2012 at 8:01 PM

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Five Things to Watch in wrestling this season

Woodinville's Ryan Christensen, a state runner-up as a sophomore last season, has Olympic potential, according to his coach.

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1 Woodinville junior chiseled and ready.

Ryan Christensen of Woodinville knew victory all too well as a sophomore wrestler in his first varsity season.

He reeled off 42 consecutive victories last season to reach the Class 4A state-championship match at 160 pounds before losing 11-7 to Chandler Rogers of Mead. Rogers, a friend and longtime rival, finished 47-0.

Christensen is back and stronger than ever, and determined to win a title this season at 182.

"It was unfortunate to lose, but it gave me a little bit of motivation," said Christensen. He likely won't face Rogers, another junior who's wrestling at 170 this season.

Woodinville coach Shaker Culpepper sees a freight train in Christensen.

"I've coached 21 years and I've seen a lot of kids, and he's the total package," Culpepper said. "I try to find flaws in him and I can't. I really think his potential is to have a shot to maybe someday be on that Olympic team. He's that type of wrestler."

2 Class 4A team race.

Four of the top five 4A teams at state last season — defending champ Tahoma, Mead, Graham-Kapowsin and Lake Stevens — figure to battle for the big trophy again.

Lake Stevens has won five of the last nine team titles and eight overall. Lake Stevens beat Tahoma 31-24 on Dec. 1.

3 Can Hornets maintain their sting?

Led by seniors Lucas Somera and Tyke Reid, Enumclaw should contend for its fifth 3A state team title in six years. Somera won at 138 pounds and Reid was second at 120 last season.

Add to the mix Justin Mitchell, who took third at 152 last year, and the Hornets look tough.

"I think we're going to be right there, and we can make a run at it," Enumclaw coach Lee Reichert said.

4 Parade of state champions.

There are 11 wrestlers in 4A or 3A seeking back-to-back state titles. And in 2A, six defending champs are back, led by North Kitsap's Jake Velarde, trying to become only the 10th wrestler in state history to win four consecutive crowns.

5 Same last name, same state-title drive.

Senior cousins Sean and Jacob Elledge give Glacier Peak two state-championship threats. Sean won the 3A title at 182 last season. Jacob took second at 145.

Matt Massey

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