Adna’s Ashton Dowell Snags Mat Classic Championship

Adna High School wrestler Ashton Dowell defeats Gage Burtenshaw of Darrington High School for the 170-pound championship during Mat Classic XXX Saturday at the Tacoma Dome.

Wrestling Results: Local Wrestlers Show Resilience on Paths to Podium

By Jordan Nailon
jnailon@chronline.com
TACOMA — With a 4-3 win in his championship title bout on Saturday night, Ashton Dowell ensured that his motley crew of Pirates would finally own a spot alongside the elite at the Mat Classic podium.
Dowell’s title clinching points decision over Gage Burtenshaw of Darrington not only gave Adna their very first wrestling state champion, but also gave the Pirates a share of third place in total team points. Both trophies represent a first for the Adna wrestling program.
Adna coach Craig Ferrier noted that Dowell was keenly aware of the ramifications of his title bout results.
“That’s what made it harder for Ashton in this match, he knew that if we won this we would end up with a share of third place,” said Ferrier. “That’s a lot of weight for a 16 year old to carry.”
Dowell, a junior, led start to finish in his championship match and his run of the table at Mat Classic XXX, included two pins. After earning his spot in the title contest with a pin that came with less than a second left in the second period of his semifinal match, Dowell told The Chronicle that it felt “amazing” to reach the penultimate level of state wrestling.
“I mean, to work all season for something you’ve wanted your whole life, it’s incredible,” said Dowell. “I was listening to the ref and I was watching the clock and he said I had .1 seconds left to call that pin or not, and he called it! I’m just happy to be going on with the win.”
All weekend long, Dowell has managed to keep calm in the face of formidable competition and doubters sprinkled in among the unwashed masses.
“I used to be a really emotional kid and I’ve been working really hard to tone it down and keep my composure,” said Dowell.
After becoming a certified state champion, Dowell felt more at liberty to authentically express himself.
“Special shout out to my brother, he keeps pushing me every day. I love him. I mean just getting ready for this match he’s there. He’s supporting me in everything I do. He talks to me. He helps me out,” said Dowell, who hopes to repeat as champion next year. “I’d like to thank God for this opportunity as well. You can’t do anything without him. It’s an incredible influence in my life. Just an amazing ride.”
From a field of 37 local wrestlers Dowell was the only one who wound up going head to head for a state title as the final rounds. However, eleven area grapplers were able to recover in time to place at Mat Classic XXX.
In consolation round action two local wrestlers claimed third place medallions.
Braxton Dowell, a 152-pound senior from Adna, is Ashton’s acclaimed older brother and he managed to claim third place in the 1B/2B division. That victory came thanks to a well timed escape with less than 20 seconds remaining in the final period of his medallion match that gave him an during 5-4 cushion over Carsen Walton of Tonasket. Earlier in the day, Dowell pinned Jack Jordan of Raymond and bested Lucas Reuwsaat of Darrington 7-4 on his way to the medal round.
Roehre Cunningham, a 106-pound senior from W.F. West defeated John Pham of Renton by a score of 10-1 Saturday morning before besting Sammy Flores of Ephrata 6-4 to make the bronze medal match. Heading into the final frame of his final prep match Cunningham was tied at zero with Andy Pimentel of Selah, but ultimately notched a pin to walk off the mat a winner one last time. That win capped a five match comeback through the consolation bracket after Cunningham dropped his opening round match on Friday.
“You just move on. There’s just always the next match to get to,” explained Cunningham, who harbors thoughts of wrestling collegiately. “I know how I wrestle and I know I have the skills to work back up from the bottom.”
Cunningham was a four time state participant, including a sixth place finish in 2016. Perhaps his best skill is the ability to latch on to his opponent and cling like a barnacle to a rusty anchor.
“It just happens. I get somebody there and I want to keep them there,” explained Cunningham, who rides bulls for fun in his spare time.
Izz Almotes also qualified for the third place match. The 220-pound senior from Centralia dropped his final prep match in heartbreaking fashion when his opponent registered an escape and reversal in the final seconds to snare a 6-3 victory. Earlier in the day, Almotes lost to Evan Barger of Orting by points in the semifinals before defeating Michael Haynes of Sedro Woolley by a score of 7-2 to earn his way to the third place match.
Almonte’s teammate, Mykka McAllister was another local 3rd place contestant who came up just short of claiming bronze. The 132-pound senior from Centralia started the day by dropping his semifinal match by fall but bounced back to defeat Hunter Behnke of Orting by a score of 9-6 thank to a last second reversal. McAllister’s luck did not hold out however, as he was pinned by Bryson Anderson of Orting.
Lucas Ashley of Adna, a 145-pound sophomore, also placed fourth. After falling in his semifinal match Saturday morning by a score of 13-6 to Rylan Anderson of Reardan, Ashley came back to defeat Brody Klein of Rainier 5-3 before falling 3-1 to Ethan Tesch of Wilbur-Creston in his medal match.
Kameron Perry, a 182-pound senior from Adna, won his final match in order to claim fifth place in the 1B/2B bracket. Perry pinned David Hoover of Rainier to start his day but then lost on points to Isaac Gomez of Tonasket in the consolation-semifinals. Perry was able to best Mason Payne of Readran 13-7 his final bout.
Back in the 2A bracket, Jayden Lancaster of Rochester placed sixth at 145 pounds. Lancaster bested Isaiah Ervin of East Valley (Spokane) on points in the morning Saturday before falling on points to Dale Anderson of Hockinson in the consolation semifinals. Lancaster, a sophomore, then lost to Jake Freeman of Clarkston in his final match.
Cheyeann Meyer of Adna placed fifth in the Girls tournament. The 125-pound junior won her first match by pin before falling 2-0 to eventual third place finisher Haley Michaelson of Bremerton. In her final match, Meyer came out with decisive 13-2 points decision that saw her lock her opponent up like Pee-Wee Herman’s bicycle.
Meyer, who placed sixth last year, noted that she started wrestling in the 3rd grade and took to the sport naturally. She says the physicality is the best part and although some girls may think it’s weird, she says she believes having the opportunity to practice with her male teammates has only served to make her better.
“We always get after it,” said Meyer, who added that she hopes even more girls will take up wrestling in the near future.
Tristan Dickey of Centralia also placed sixth in the Mat Classic after falling by points in the medal round. Dickey, a 170-pound senior, lost his semifinal match by points on Saturday morning and then lost on points in his next two matches.
Levi Walters, a 120-pounder from W.F. West, placed sixth after coming into the final day of the season with a shot at a title. Walters lost by technical fall in the semifinals to eventual champion Haiden Drury of Toppenish, and then dropped his next two matches by fall and points, respectively.
Matthew Slape was the final area wrestler to place on Saturday. The 160-pound junior from Adna defeated Colby Hutchinson of Kalama by pin to open the day but then lost to Austin Wood of Tonasket on points before being pinned in his final bout.
Fellow Pirates Hunter Fields and Aaron Slape failed to escape the qualifying rounds of the Mat Classic on Saturday. Slape was pinned in his only match of the day and Fields lost by points in his lone match.
Dusty Thayer of Winlock was the only other local wrestler to survive into the second day of the Mat Classic. Thayer, a 113-pound sophomore failed to trophy after losing his only match of the day while trying to solidify an inspired comeback. With short time on the clock Thayer let it all on the mat by attempting a risky takedown maneuver that left him vulnerable, and ultimately pinned out of contention.

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