University has four semifinalists and nine state placers putting the Titans in position to win their second state 4A wrestling championship here in Tacoma. They could have had seven semifinalists, but lost three tough matches in overtime. They lead 74.5 to 53.5 over Tahoma, with Auburn, Graham-Kapowsin and Lake Stevens or Moses Lake in the picture. They don’t have quite the numbers, but Tahoma and Lake Stevens have four semifinalists as well.
Deer Park has six semifinalists, but lost four of its 11 qualifiers so WF West, Centralia and Othello loom.
3A GSL teams had individual successes, led by North Central and Shadle Park, 1A not so much and Reardan has a good lead in B with Republic laying in wait.
Here’s my story:
By Mike Vlahovich
TACOMA – Overtime proved unkind to the University Titans following an incredible start Friday at Mat Classic XXII.
The Titans, who began a perfect 10-for-10 in the first round of the 4A State wrestling tournament, dropped three overtime matches in the quarterfinals.
Still, it was hard to be disappointed. They finished the day with 74.5 points and a 21-point lead, four semifinalists and are assured nine top eight medals.
In 3A, North Central advanced four to the semifinals, but not quite as expected, will place six and share third place in team standings after a day.
Deer Park took steps toward a third straight 2A title, advancing six to the semis and lead Othello 65-52.
Reardan has taken hold in the B team race.
The bracket gods, said U-Hi assistant Dave Orndorf, didn’t smile on the Titans as first freshman Ryan Grabel (103) gave up a late takedown then lost in overtime; Brandon Byers (119) lost in OT to a Lake Stevens foe who took two shots the entire match and made good; and Jake Laden (275) was beaten 2-1 in three overtime periods.
“They all wrestled hard,” said coach Don Owen. “I’m not disappointed.”
And with nine left, five who can place as high as third, the numbers could pan out for U-Hi’s second team title.
“I feel a lot better now,” Owen said. “I’m really proud of the way the guys competed. They’re warriors. I’ve never had a team fight and scrap like that.”
One thing missing, however will be the anticipated sixth meeting between Spokane state champions Jordan Rogers of Mead and Jake Mason of University.
Rogers was sidelined earlier this week due to an emergency appendectomy denying Tacoma Dome fans the possibility of their dream matchup for the 160 pound title.
The pair met five times – Mason winning three. But fate intervened during Rogers’ star-cross year. He got a late wrestling start after breaking his leg in football. Now this.
Mason is one of four Titan semifinalists, joined by 112-pound Tyler Clark, 152-pound Ryan Zumwalt and 189-pound Dustin Johnson.
Clark meets two-time state champion Josh Heinzer and Johnson Tahoma’s two-time champ Nick Bayer for the third time this year, all losses.
“Next match I’m looking for an upset,” he said. “I can’t make any mistakes.”
Tahoma, with 53.5 points is currently second.
Others in today’s semifinals are Mead’s Jeremy Golding (125) and defending champion Jake Trotter (215); Central Valley’s Jarod Maynes (112) and Ferris’ Brandon Riehle (135).
The Indians bounced back from regional to turn in a solid effort. But it’s Andrew Whitmarsh (189), not Steven Taylor (285) who completed NC’s semifinal quartet.
The lanky Whitmarsh got past his opener in four overtimes, then used his length to advantage in a quarterfinal pin.
“I didn’t do great the first round,” he said. “I’d pinned him two times. But I pulled out another one.”
Taylor, leading 5-0 and working to pin, was rolled and pinned himself, but is still in the running for third.
Other semifinalists are last year’s runnersup Nathan Brown (125) and Ben Carter (171) and placer Jared Berlinger (119).
“We came out firing,” said coach Luke Leifer. “Steven’s loss was a bit of a damper, but we came back strong.”
NC has 55 points, behind leader Enumclaw’s 71.
Shadle Park has four state placers, including semifinalists Darren Bunke, East Valley and Mt. Spokane two each, including respective semifinalists Sean Biltoft (135) and Wyatt Maguire (125. Rogers’ Vang Lor is a semifinalist at 112
When freshmen Jake Konzal and Cole Harris won their 103-pound openers, the Stags had the makings of a good day. The state rookies marched into the semifinals as well with scarcely a care.
Joining them are defending champions Blake Adams (119), Billy Rhoads (140) and Shawn Burton (285) along with first-time senior Ammon Collins (189). Adams, who lost in the regional finals, won a pair of major decisions.
“It’s the state tournament,” he said. “You wrestle one match at a time and don’t overlook anybody.”
Riverside is fifth in team scoring with 47 points, just six out of second. The Rams have advanced Kit Major (125), Chase Florez (152) and Nick DesRoches (171) to the semifinals.
Others are Cheney’s Duncan Rhoades (119) Logan Huckins (135) and Ryan McNair (171), Quinn Tate-Gannon (130) and Clarkston’s Nick King Z(215).
Heavy favorite Orting, with nine semifinalists, has taken control of this tournament with 103 points.
Lakeside has three wrestlers vying for titles, juniors Michael Baumgarden (119 pounds) and Josh Lauderdale (135), both top four finishers last year. Kettle Falls’ Tanner Bolt (152) and Chewelah’s Will Peters (285) are the others.
Eastern regional wrestlers ran roughshod, state essentially a repeat of last week’s regional tourney.
Of 56 semfinalists, all but nine came from eastern Washington. And they claimed 26 of 28 spots in tonight’s championship.
The young Indians have a 112-87-85 lead over district and regional champion Kittitas and Republic and six finalists, four of them sophomores. Five placed in the top four last year, second placers Niko Knezovich and Raleigh Beckstrom and three Andersons, Wyatt, Waylen and Kaare.
Republic has five finalists – including current or former state champions Kyle Kirkendall, Ryn Rollins and two-time finalist Scotty Bacon. Kittitas has four in the finals.
A total of 17 wrestlers from District 7 will be going for individual titles.