Mat Classic XXV
Where: Tacoma Dome
When: Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m.
If the work ethic that wrestlers are taught will get you where you want to go, the University Titans will go far.
Coach Don Owen, who’s won two state team titles at U-Hi, said they’ve done so through hard work and doing the right things.
This year’s team is hoping to add to the Titan legacy.
“I have a special group of kids,” Owen said. “There will be teams there who have more qualifiers, but I don’t see anyone who has more quality. I don’t think it’s a situation where it’s not within our reach. Our destiny’s in our own hands.”
U-Hi, in a rugged region, advanced nine to Mat Classic XXV this weekend after winning sub-regional and regional championships. Six of the nine state qualifiers were regional champions, returning state placers Kwest Osborn and Ryan Gabel – who upset Shadle Park state champion Terrence McKinney – among them.
“I was really happy with our top-end kids,” Owen said. “It’s the first time I’ve had six titles. They wrestled really clean and strong and did the work necessary for state.”
He added there were four or five others who could have been there.
“If we wrestle like were capable I could see us walking away with the big trophy,” Owen said. “I want a championship for (them) because they have worked so hard and are a great bunch of kids.”
University was tested on its road to state by Sunnyside, which qualified 10 to Tacoma. Standing in the way this weekend is Enumclaw, winners of four of the last five titles. The GSL had 15 of 28 finalists in the region, 11 of them champions. Mt. Spokane qualified seven to state, three of them weight winners including returning state placer John Hoover. North Central’s Izaec Quintanilla is a state favorite at 152 pounds.
Central Valley and Mead took a numbers hit; qualifying six wrestlers each which does not bode well for a team title challenge in a sport that has increasingly become a numbers game. “That was an interesting one,” Mead coach Phil McLean said. “We had some tough goes, but the kids we send are good kids at good weights.” Individually, the Bears and Panthers have multiple wrestlers with state finals potential. Both had five finalists, CV had five champions, including state placers Tanner Davis, Colton Orrino and Blake Beard. “We have six going and wanted a couple more,” coach John Owen said, “but high end-wise, man!”
Last year Mead had five state finalists, four of them champions, yet finished second. Two-time champ Chandler Rogers and state placer David Munding return. Defending champion Tahoma has 11 entrants. Perennial power Lake Stevens has 13, Union, last year’s 3A runner-up Yelm and Moses Lake also have large contingents.
Deer Park has a chance to become only the second team to win six straight team titles, but it will take some doing. They were part of a three-way first-place Great Northern League regular-season tie and finished second in both district and regional tournaments. “I think we have the kids to give it a run,” Stags coach Matt Jorgensen said. Orting, Centralia, eastern regional champion Othello and Port Angeles stand in the way. Three Deer Park state finalists – champions Jake Konzal and Cole Harris and second-place Joe Grable – return. “We need three or four finalists and three in the top six,” Jorgensen said. “It would be nice to win one tournament this year.” Cheney had a strong regional with three finalists and six state qualifiers. Colville also advanced six.
Regular-season champion Freeman advanced just three of the 22 Northeast A League wrestlers who qualified to state. Chewelah and Riverside lead the way with six and five, respectively, with returning Cougars state placers Russell Smith and Adam Collins among them. Lakeside’s Darius Judd is the other state placer back.
Selkirk was the highest District 7 regional placer, finishing third behind Liberty Bell and Lake Roosevelt. Eight state placers return, including defending state champions Nathan Scorci of Reardan and finalists Charlie Eldred, Reardan, Kain Feltwell and Tyler Osborn from Springdale.