Greater Spokane League wrestlers expect their quality to make up for a lack of quantity this weekend.
In old-time terminology, it’ll be every man for himself at Mat Classic VII.
“I’m going to go in with the same attitude I would, with or without the team,” said University’s Dusty Roberts, the favorite to win the state Class AAA 148-pound title.
Midway through the season, U-Hi appeared to be one of four or five teams that could challenge for the State AAA title.
But when state matches begin at 11 a.m. Friday in the Tacoma Dome, only four wrestlers will represent U-Hi.
“As hard as we worked this year, I didn’t think this would happen,” Roberts said after winning the Region IV-AAA Tournament, in which six U-Hi wrestlers were eliminated.
Mead takes a league-high five to state, which coach Cash Stone figures may mean a top-eight team finish. Rogers qualified four to state. Ten wrestlers are on their way from the other six GSL teams.
The “GSL 23” is relatively small in numbers, but not in talent.
Mead’s Justin O’Connor (190) and Troy Hughes (178) are 27-0 after regional titles. Hughes finished second at state at 168 as a sophomore and second at 178 last year.
U-Hi’s Scott Garcia (141) is competing at the weight division he did as a sophomore, when he was state runnerup. Garcia, who took fourth at 148 last year, was ill at regional and is still recuperating.
Gonzaga Prep sophomore Cory Brannon, 26-5 at 108, is the GSL’s other regional champ. Teammate Steve Steigleder (129), a regional runner-up, was fourth at state at 108 as a sophomore.
Other top candidates to place in the top six are: Mike Knight (115), Terry Swan (122) and Matt Miethe (275) of Rogers; Joel Gehrett (135) and Rick Giampietri (158) of Central Valley; Josh Robertson (141) of North Central; James Clark (135) and Erin Vandagriff (168) of Mead; and Josh Knowles (115) of U-Hi.
Class AA: No Frontier League team will vie for the title. Pullman, with state veterans Kazuo Yoshiura (141), Kyle Ryan (168) and Earl Eastman (275), and two other qualifiers, appears to have the best shot at a top-10 finish.
Colville, with Jeremiah Divis (115) and Brandon LaLonde (158), boasts the league’s only regional champs.
West Valley’s Aaron Lehinger (115) has twice finished third at state at 101 pounds.
Class A: Defending state champions Henry Peterson (115) of Riverside and Alex Schulz (178) of Deer Park lead a strong local contingent.
Lakeside, with eight state qualifiers, and Riverside, with five, are in the running for trophies.
Lakeside is powered by the Orth brothers. Bart Orth (148) was the state champ at 122 as a sophomore and took sixth at 135 last year. Ben Orth (129) was fourth at 108 in ‘93 and sixth at 115 as a junior.
Regional champ Terry Haney (148) of Newport was sixth at state at 141 last year. Deer Park’s Clint Umbach (129) was state runner-up at 108. Springdale’s Mark Scott (190) looks to improve on his fifth-place finish at 168.