When they roll the mats up later today at East Valley, there will be a newly crowned Class 2A district wrestling champion.
Who that champion will be, however, is an open question.
“I honestly have no idea who it will be,” said East Valley coach Craig Hanson said. “We won the league title, but Colville has more No. 1 seeds into district than anyone else. It’s all going to come down to who comes in and wrestles better.”
Part of the challenge of forecasting this tournament comes from the simple fact that these teams set up differently for tournaments than they do for dual meets.
East Valley won the regular season Great Northern League dual meet crown and capped that effort by winning its own Dream Duals tournament two weeks ago.
“That’s been the strength of this group this year,” Hanson said. “This is the smallest group I’ve had in terms of numbers, probably since my days coaching in Montana. But they’ve all worked very hard and been willing to do whatever we’ve asked them to do. A lot of them have been willing to wrestle out of their best weight class in order to fill a need when it came time to wrestle dual meets.
“We’ve been a very good dual meet team for that reason. But for tournaments we’re deep at some weights and some weights we’re not competing in.”
Perhaps the deepest weight for the Knights is 113 pounds, where freshman Randy McDonald is seeded No. 1 with sophomore Logan Sundheim seeded third in a weight that should be a three-way battle between the two Knights and junior Aaron Klauder of Deer Park.
“McDonald beat Klauder, so he’s the No. 1 seed,” Hanson said. “Sundheim has beaten McDonald, but he hasn’t beaten Klauder, so he’s the No. 3 seed. That should be a fun division to watch.”
Before the seeding process began, the competition at 145 pounds looked to be especially fierce, with defending state champion Joe Grable of Deer Park and East Valley sophomore Trey Meyer a good bet to meet head-to-head in championship finals the next three Saturdays – at district, regionals and state.
“We had four guys, maybe five, in our district who all could have placed at state,” Hanson said. “But two of those guys dropped down a weight – Zach Freeman from Clarkston and Ian Cox from Colville. They’re going to wrestle at 138, and I would have to say that it’s now the toughest weight class to get through.”
Added to the mix at 138 pounds is East Valley’s Gabe Meyer, a state-ranked wrestler and Trey Meyer’s older brother. Cox drew the No. 1 seed going into the tournament, with Vern Sanderson of Cheney No. 2, Meyer No. 3 and Freeman No. 4.
“The only difference between Gabe and Trey is that Trey has gone to the top meets and challenged himself more,” Hanson said. “Trey really wants to be a college wrestler and he’s going to be one. He’s tall and lean right now and will fill out as he grows.
“But I tell you, watching the two of them go after one another in practice is really something. You never know which one is going to win.”
The coach predicted that Trey Meyer will likely add 15 pounds to his frame over the summer and wrestle at 160 pounds as a junior and perhaps 170 as a senior.
“I can see him wrestling in college at 174,” Hanson said. “I can definitely see him growing into that weight.”
The Knights have two No. 1-seeded wrestlers in the upper weights today.
Junior Kenny Martinez, who currently is ranked No. 4 in the state at 195 pounds, returned to 182, where he competed at state a year ago. As the top seed, Martinez has a bye into the quarterfinals.
Junior Damon King is the No. 1 seed at 195 pounds and, because of fewer entrants at that weight, has a bye into the semifinals.
“The fun thing about this tournament is the fact that everyone is capable of doing and scoring well,” Hanson said. “Take West Valley, for example. They’re going to score a lot of points in a couple weights. They have the two best kids at 285 pounds and they’re going to finish 1-2, so they’re going to get a lot of points.”
The Knights’ secret weapon for the district tournament always has been its Dream Duals tournament.
“It’s been a good tournament for us,” the coach said. “Even the years when we haven’t wrestled well at our own tournament, we’ve been able to go back, figure out what was wrong and fix it before districts.
“This year we had a terrific Dream Duals. We beat Port Angeles, Sedro-Woolley and Toppenish. We had a great match in the finals. It’s been two weeks, so I don’t know if there’s any carry over. But I hope so.”