It was all a matter of interpretation.
But it was the difference between West Valley’s Quinn Sharpe perhaps winning a state championship and finishing third at the State AA wrestling tournament.
Sharpe was leading White River’s eventual champion Scott Tugby 5-2 on a near-fall move that came close to, if not being, a pin.
A round later, Tugby earned reversal and near fall points for a 7-5 win with a move that WV Coach Bill Bauman protested as illegal.
“It is illustrated in the rule book as being illegal if pressure is applied at the elbow,” said Bauman.
“The referee ruled there was no pressure and it was not on the elbow. Obviously Quinn is a good wrestler and is real tough. He would not roll over unless pressure was applied.”
Besides, said Bauman, “In my mind also, he had the kid pinned earlier.”
Sharpe was this year’s district 101-pound champion as a sophomore and finished third during regional. He beat ultimate state runnerup Shawn Reyes of Eastmont.
“He was disappointed in his regional finish,” Bauman said. “We focused on the need to get to the state tournament and redeem himself.”
Sharpe won four of five matches in Tacoma, once by technical fall and twice by pin, including over Region IV champion Pablo Melo, to place third.
“Quinn had a good attitude about it and didn’t focus on the loss,” said Bauman. “We knew he could beat anybody at state and he proved that.”
Never underestimate heart
His older brother Jay was there to console Casey Stookey through the tears.
The two-time sixth-place state finisher had just witnessed a gallant second-place effort by the unheralded 122-pounder.
Like most of the Frontier League’s state entrants, Casey Stookey had finished just third in regional to qualify for state and faced a hard road at state.
Once there, his refusal to lose resulted in three straight victories, including a dramatic three-overtime 5-4 win in the semifinals. That match included a third-period escape and an ability to avoid returning state placer Dave Ragsdale’s numerous takedown tries.
One more escape meant an exhuberant celebration and a spot in the finals.
“It was the greatest feeling in the world,” said Stookey.
Were it not for an early second-period six-point flurry by Othello’s Benji Villareal, he might have been the longest of long-shot champions.
“I never expected to get rolled over like that,” said Stookey. “Although it’s disappointing it’s better to know you’re at the top.”
An amazing season
A year ago WV’s Jeremy Thornton was living at Morning Star Boys Ranch and wrestled for Ferris where he compiled an 8-18 record.
This year, living on his own and working to help support himself, Thornton compiled a 32-8 record and sixth-place state finish.
He did so by winning twice to reach the semifinals before losing his final two matches.
“I always liked basketball but sucked at it real bad,” said Thornton. “I had no clue about wrestling but decided to try it and liked it a lot.”
After two years at West Valley, he landed at Morning Star.
“My mom was worried about me getting into trouble,” he said. “I didn’t fit in well with my stepparents.”
Out on his own this year, he returned to West Valley. With it came a new-found wrestling style and success.
“I knew he could place,” said Coach Bill Bauman. “Never an explosive wrestler, he keeps things close. He improved a lot and his confidence became better after the first couple of tournaments.”
How other wrestlers fared
After winning his opener, two-time third-placer Aaron Lehinger of West Valley lost by four points to state runnerup Jordon Ottow of Monroe and was eventually ousted.
“He helped us at 115 pounds, but in the long run it hurt him,” said Bauman. “I think he was a 108-pounder who tried things that would have worked on a smaller kid.”
East Valley freshman Justin Walker, senior Troy Campbell also went 1-2, and EV senior Matt Eastman was 0-2.
West Valley’s Paul Pfeifer and Freeman’s Dustin Reed also were 0-2.