State Wrestling: Area Grapplers Amping Up for Hulking Mat Classic
Wrestle Mania: Expanded 32-Man Brackets Added After Snow Canceled Regional Tournaments
By Jordan Nailon
When it’s wrestling season there’s not much that can get in between a wrestler and their mat other than a singlet and perhaps an opponent’s pinned shoulders.
After last weekend you can add snow to that short list.
The steady snow storms that began to blanket all five corners of the state late last week put the kibosh on the annual round of regional wrestling tournaments due to a drift of safety concerns. That second round of the postseason is typically used by the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association to seed a 16-wrestler bracket for each weight class in all six classifications of competition. In the stead of those geographilly-centric tournaments the WIAA opted to essentially double the number of entries into the 31st rendition of the state Mat Classic tournament.
Most classifications will run a 32-wrestler bracket with the top finishers at each sub-regional tournament advancing. One estimate put the total number of wrestlers at 2,688 over 28 weight classes and six classifications. The bar for entry was different at each classification though. At the 1B/2B level the top six finishers punched their ticket to state. The 1A and 2A schools were able to send the top four finishers and the girls bracket, which includes all size classifications, is comprised of the top three finishers from sub-regionals.
Under those emergency guidelines area schools managed to qualify 71 wrestlers. Those qualifiers include 52 boys and 19 girls across the four local classifications. W.F. West is going to be sending the largest contingent with 19 boys and six girls earning their way to the Tacoma Dome. By comparison, only 37 area wrestlers made it to the tournament last season between both boys and girls.
“I think it’s going to be weird with the 32-man bracket. But to be honest, at the beginning of the year if you looked at it there were pretty clear cut number ones across the state,” said W.F. West coach Jamie Rakevich.
Rakevich added that he has two wrestlers on the boys side who still had to finish a set of pigtail matches Wednesday night for the final spots to state. He said the number five seeds from the north side would wrestle the number fours from down south.
As for the army of Bearcats who started packing their travel bag last weekend when news of the expanded format broke? He noted that they are a largely inexperienced group with a whole lot of upside.
“I think we’ve got a lot of guys who have a really good opportunity to place. We’ll just see which guys show up,” Rakevich said.
Of the 19 Bearcat boys going to state nobody has any Dairy Ambassador issued hardware at home. Only Darren Gray (113), Mason Morones (132), Carver Brennan (152), and Caleb Walters (120) participated in the Mat Classic at all.
“It’s going to be new no matter what but we’ve got a lot of kids who this is their first time. A couple of kids who were alternates last year but everyone else is wide eyed,” said Rakevich. “There is a thing called Dome Fever for a reason.”
Including Walters and Morones, W.F. West had two other wrestlers place first in their bracket at the sub-regional tournament two weekends ago. Bryson Boyd took the title at 220 pounds and Chris Powe emerged unschated at 182 pounds.
The W.F. West girls had two wrestlers place first in their weight class at sub-regionals with Xylia Warner taking the top step at 140 pounds and Brisa Leal-Sierra taking top honors at 170 pounds. According to Matt Patana, coach of the Bearcats’ girls grapplers, Warner and Leal-Sierra merit extra attention amid the frantic patchwork of state mats, as well as Madison Wilson, who placed third at 115 pounds in the sub-regional tournament.
“I would say that both of them will be very competitive. I’d also say that Madi could surprise some people,” said Patana.
In spite of the sheer numbers of wrestlers that W.F. West will have to transport to Tacoma, it is the Adna Pirates who may show up in the two-time All-American city with the most fearsome crew.
The Pirates boast the only returning state champion in the area with Ashton Dowell looking to make it two titles in a row at 170 pounds. Adna coach Craig Ferrier believes a repeat is well within reach.
“Absolutely. There’s a guy named Krouse from Chewelah who was the number one ranked 1A wrestler in the state last year. If all goes to plan they will meet in the finals in a match up of state champions,” Ferrier said.
According to former Chronicle sports reporter and current editor of the Chewelah Independent, Brandon Hansen, the Cougar’s ace wrestler is a multifaceted force to be reckoned with.
“Krouse is our All-State fullback. (He’s) big into Team USA Wrestling and has placed at nationals. Won a championship as a freshman and has only gotten better. Has a sweet ‘stache too,” noted Hansen.
Similarly, Adna features a well-rounded collection of wrestlers who will sport blue and gold beneath squiggly neon lights and the din of the dome. Of the 10 wrestlers in the program this year, seven Pirates qualified for the boys 1B/2B bracket and two wrestlers qualified on the girls side. In addition to Dowell, Matthew Slape (160), and Lucas Ashley (152) both placed first at the sub-regional tournament. Last year both Ashley and Slape made it to the podium on the final day of the season.
“I really feel like if they wrestle well that we could be in the finals at 152, 160, 170, right there three in a row,” said Ferrier, who also has hopes of landing the boys squadron in the top 10 for team points.
“The underclassmen are the ones who are going to help us reach the top 10,” explained Ferrier. “I’m excited to have all of our boys make it and both girls. I mean, this is nearly all of the wrestlers that we’ve been working with all year long.”
Looking over at the girls bracket, Ferrier believes Meyer also has an outside shot at a 125-pound title after placing sixth two years ago and fifth last year. He also thinks Keaton Dowell will make waves at 145-pounds.
“I think she’s in a good spot in the bracket and if she wrestles well that she could be our first girl in the finals,” said Ferrier of Meyer.
He admitted that Dowell may have a tougher road to the medal rounds.
“I think she’s in a little tougher side of the bracket but she’s a Dowell so she always wrestles tough,” noted Ferrier.
Back in the 2A boys bracket, Centralia managed to qualify five boys to the super-sized Mat Classic. Eddie Matis (126) and Caleb Hylton (160) were the only two Tigers to take first at sub-regionals. Juan Gaspar placed third at 113 pounds at sub-regionals and is also Centralia’s lone wrestler with last year’s state tournament sweatshirt.
Rochester was able to get six boys into the state tournament. Jayden Lancaster is the only Warrior who qualified for state last year and he wound up taking sixth place at 145 pounds. The Warriors had three wrestlers place second at the sub-regional tournament.
In the 1A ranks Tenino qualified five boys with Robert Marti (285) representing all of the team’s state experience. Four Beavers placed fourth at sub-regionals and Jake Nybo (182) placed third.
The Toledo/Winlock program will send six boys to the Mat Classic, although none of them hail from the Egg City. Trey Rego (145) and Michael Echtle (220) both tout state experience and Ethan Buck (160) managed a second place finish at sub-regionals.
The Napavine/Onalaska team will send a total of two wrestlers from each school to the great grappling festivities. Grant Bennett (195) from Napavine placed second at the sub-regional tournament and Kolby Mozingo (132) of Onalaska finished third.
Over on the girls side of things the Centralia team will be sending the largest gang of grapplers with eight Tigers ready to rumble. Analeese McAllister (120) is Centralia’s most likely medalist with a sub-regional title already under her belt. Taryn Salazar (100) and Olivia Delaney (105) both placed second.
Toledo will be represented in the girls bracket by Andrea Jones and Rochester qualified three girls for the Mat Classic. Alysha Kester (155) led the Warriors by taking first at sub-regionals.
Across Scatter Creek Tenino managed to get three girls into the super-sized Mat Classic. Jamiah Christin took first at 115 pounds at sub-regionals while Emma Barr (110) and Morgan Miner (125) both placed second.
“All of those ladies they’re brawlers. They’re really good on the mat and all show up ready to go,” said Tenino coach Mike Morales, who gave Christin the best odds to medal. “She’s really improved both on and off the mat this year. She gets out there and it’s almost like she’s out to kill.”
The Mat Classic will begin on Friday morning at the Tacoma Dome with the 3A, 2A, and 1B/2B classifications getting going at 8:30 a.m. Beginning at 2:30 p.m. the 4A, 1A, and Girls brackets will commence. Wrestling is set to start at 9:45 a.m. on Saturday for wrestlers who advance.
Up to date information, including brackets, can be found online at www.wiaa.com/subcontent.aspx?SecID=614.
COMPLETE LIST OF AREA WRESTLERS
Tyler Pietra, 126
Dalton Chambers, 138
Karlton Hisaw, 160
Jake Nybo, 182
Robert Marti, 285
Juan Gaspar, 113
Alex Hicks-Avron, 120
Eddie Matias, 126
Justin Lake, 138
Caleb Hylton, 160
Jeremy Brant, 120
Dalin Schlecht, 126
Riley Cohron, 132
Jayden Lancaster, 145
Nathan Kilmer, 182
Tomas Ashton, 285
Woodroe Kiser, 160
Thakhan Tripp, 120
Tristan Ridley, 132
Ryder Walker, 145
Lucas Ashley, 152
Matthew Slape, 160
Ashton Dowell, 170
Grant Bennett, 195, NAP
Brad Yarbrough, 120, NAP
Kolby Mozingo, 132, ONY
Daniel Malot, 182, ONY
Trey Rego, 145
Jesse Weeks, 152
Ethan Buck, 160
Hunter Smith, 195
Michael Echtle, 220
Riki Hanzawa, 170
Kayden Ryan, 106
Henry Robbins, 106
Caden Cunningham, 113
Darren Gray, 113
Bo Davis, 120
Caleb Walters, 120
Zach Evans, 126
Mason Morones, 132
Kyle Gray, 138
Bryce Laufenberg, 145
Evan Moon, 152
Carver Brennan, 152
Austin Pierson, 160
Ben Eklund, 170
Chris Powe, 182
Isaac Reavis, 195
Garrett VonMoos, 220
Bryson Boyd, 220
Chase Conaway, 285
Cheyann Meyer, 125
Keaton Dowell, 145
Taryn Salazar, 100
Olivia Delaney, 105
Analeese McAllister, 120
Angie Contreras, 135
Berenice Ramirez, 145
Anna Stinkeoway, 155
Marley Farfan, 170
Syreena Edwards, 190
Alysha Kester, 155
Emma Barr, 110
Jamiah Christin, 115
Morgan Miner, 125
Andrea Jones, 130
Madison Wilson, 115
Natasha Dugger, 120
Xylia Warner, 140
Brisa Leal-Sierra, 170