Outnumbered decidedly by wrestlers from the Columbia Basin, the Greater Spokane League held its own during the Region 4A tournament Saturday at Central Valley.
The Columbia Basin Big Nine had qualified 70 wrestlers to regional, the GSL 42. Despite the CBBN’s advantage, the leagues evenly split finalists and champions during the one-day event.
The GSL advanced 23 of the 56 individuals who are headed to Mat Classic next weekend in Tacoma.
University, which finished second to Moses Lake in the team race (204.5-143.5 points), third-place Mead and Ferris had four finalists apiece. Central Valley added two finalists of the 28 total. The GSL won seven of 14 championship finals.
Two, in particular, were unexpected.
Mead freshman Jordan Rogers led CV’s Tyler Simmet 3-2 at 140 pounds but appeared on the verge of being taken down with time running out.
CV coach Rick Giampietri thought his grandson had the winner. Simmet worked on Rogers’ legs, but Rogers’ counter smothered Simmet for a pin with 11 seconds remaining.
“I try not to use it,” said Rogers, a national Greco Roman champion who learned the move in a camp. “It’s kind of a dangerous move, but I hit it earlier in the tournament.”
Just prior to Rogers’ victory, Ferris junior 135-pounder Brandon Riehle had overwhelmed Walla Walla’s Ryan Harmon. Riehle put his foe on his back and just held him there, glancing around for much of the first round. He finished Harmon by pin a mere 24 seconds into the second.
“I never wrestled him before and didn’t know what to expect,” Riehle said. “I was excited, I guess.”
“Getting four kids into the finals was pretty good for us,” Ferris coach Tim Owen said. “And I was really happy with the way Brandon is wrestling. He’s really upped things. I hope it continues.”
U-Hi, which advances a GSL-best seven wrestlers to state, won three titles in four attempts.
Two of its finals were held simultaneously on adjoining mats. U-Hi split, with Brandon Matlock winning 6-4 at 103 and Brandon Byers losing 14-5 at 112.
Matlock went from district participant as a freshman last year to district and regional champion this season.
“His goal was to go to the state tournament and place there,” U-Hi coach Don Owen said. “He is really bent on being a good wrestler – goes to clinics and wrestling camps – and is one of those kids you love to coach.”
Matlock took an early 2-0 lead with a takedown and nursed it through two periods. The third period provided a challenge.
“It totally came down to the end,” Matlock said. “We practice blocking and defending and I knew I could do that with a few seconds left.”
Byers was a regional alternate at 112 as a freshman last year. His finals came at a price. He pinned Titans teammate and returning state placer Tyler Clark, last week’s district champion, in the semifinals. Clark then lost in consolation and stays home.
“That’s a really bad deal,” Owen said. “The sad thing is Tyler wrestled pretty well and was ahead 9- or 11-2 and got caught. I feel bad for him. The rest of the guys are the heart and soul of the program. They deserve to go to state and all seven will return again.”
U-Hi junior Ryan Zumwalt dominated on his feet at 145 for an 11-6 win. In a rematch of the 160-pound district final, sophomore Jake Mason beat Ferris’ Andre Rivera 6-3 for U-Hi’s other regional title.
CV’s Cody Stratton continued his late-season surge and beat Ferris’ Ian Bauman for the second consecutive week, 2-1 for the 171-pound title. The GSL finished 1-2-3 in the weight class.
“I started off the season decent and kind of hit a slump,” said Stratton, who beat U-Hi’s Dustin Johnson 5-3 in the semifinals. “My coaches and family say I’ve peaked at the right time. That’s the first time I didn’t go to overtime with Johnson and the finals match was a good match. Me and Bauman are pretty even.”
Mead’s other champion was 285-pounder Carter Comito, whose match was over before the introductory biographies for the finalists were announced. He wrapped up Kennewick’s Brian Reil and pinned him in 36 seconds.
Mead, including finalists Jeremy Golding (119) and Jacob Trotter (215); Ferris, including finalist Russell Stinson (189); and Mead all have five state qualifiers. Lewis and Clark qualified one.