TACOMA – Jeff Friedman is a defending 1A state wrestling champion with a calm, business-like approach to the sport.
After pinning both Nathan Werner of Freeman and Aaron Lano of Montesano in his first two 120-pound matches at Mat Classic XXXI on Friday at the Tacoma Dome, the Lakeside (Nine Mile Falls) senior headed off to exercise, making sure he came in under the weight for Saturday’s quarterfinals.
“I feel good. I came out with a lot of energy. I’m hoping to carry that into tomorrow,” Friedman said.
“He’s really dialed in,” said Scott Friedman, Jeff’s dad and the Eagles’ coach. “He’s grown physically since last year and fine-tuned his technique.”
His first match Saturday promises to be an intense battle of old versus new. Abel Nava wasn’t at state last year because the Granger freshman wasn’t in high school yet, but he’s already making a name for himself, pushing ahead of Friedman for the top ranking at 120 according to Washington Wrestling Report.
Not only does he have a victory over Friedman to his credit earlier this season, Nava handed 3A Bonney Lake’s Brenden Chaowanapibool – a member of the USA Wrestling junior national Greco-Roman team – his only loss to an in-state opponent this season.
“I lost a close match to him, hopefully I can get revenge,” Jeff Friedman said.
“It’s going to be a test, it really, truly is. I know Jeff will be up for it,” Scott Friedman added.
Trent Baun of Colville kept his hopes of becoming just the 16th boys wrestler in Washington history to win four consecutive state championships.
Baun needed less than two minutes total to pin both Tyler Ward of Newport and Andrew Garcia of Stevenson at 132. He’ll meet Zillah’s fourth-ranked junior Emmanuel Troncoso in his quarterfinal match Saturday.
Seventh-ranked Takota Morrison will join Braun in the 132 quarterfinals. Sophomore Devin Minnier (120), junior Rueben Seeman (138), senior Kaden Mackowiak (145), senior Trevor Morrison (160), junior Joey Allen (182), Hunter Tharaldson (220) and Jacob Newsom (285) also reached the quarterfinals as the Indians grabbed the lead in the team standings with 99 points.
Deer Park was in third place with 74.5 points while Lakeside – which had 12 of the 15 wrestlers it brought to state win their first matches – stood fourth after the first day with 72.5.
Deer Park assistant coach Brian Jorgensen saw the strong team performance coming.
“This is my fifth year and I’ve never been around a group of kids like this. Great teammates. No drama,” he said. “It’s very rare to see 18 grinders just going to work every day.”
Freshman Nathan Gregory, top-ranked at 113, led the Stags into the quarterfinals in an efficient manner, pinning Medical Lake sophomore Ben Henry before beating Granger’s fourth-ranked Jeremiah Salcedo on a technical fall, 18-2, early in the third period.
Returning state champions Joe Peasley of Wilbur-Creston and Kaden Krouse of Chewelah both made it through to the 1B/2B quarterfinals.
Evading the effects of the expanded bracket, Peasley got a first-round bye at 160, then dispatched Chris Wood of Ilwaco via pin a minute into their round-of-16 match. Peasley will face Bodie Paul of Liberty Bell, a state participant last year as well, in the quarterfinals.
Krouse, a sophomore, also drew a bye at 170 before pinning Rainier senior Alex Moe. Krouse was leading the match 14-2 at the time of the pin, but still thought he could have done better.
“It was good to get a first little sweat in,” he said. “I need to be faster, finish quickly and work on top more.”
Krouse took a 6-2 lead after a round despite twice having the match delayed because of his own bloody nose.
“It didn’t bother me at all,” he said.
Chewelah coach Tim Slater thought Krouse’s tentative approach was to be expected.
“Kaden wrestled fine. First matches at state, you’ve got to work out the jitters,” he said. “He definitely picked up and finished well.”
The 32-man brackets provided a small logistical challenge.
“We’re trying to figure out the flow,” Slater said. “This first day has been a little odd, but tomorrow it shouldn’t make any difference at all.”
Colfax senior Augie Allenbaugh, top-ranked at 220 coming into the Mat Classic, got a bye into the round of 16, then outpointed Michael Echtle of Toledo 9-1 to move into the quarterfinals.
Liberty junior Charlie Harrington, top-ranked at 285, drew a first-round bye then pinned Bryan Sparks of Ilwaco after 1:21 to move into the quarterfinals.
Colfax stood third in the 1B/2B team standings after the first day with 55 points, well behind leader Tonasket’s 102. Liberty (eighth at 40.5) and Wilbur-Creston (10th at 34.5) also cracked the top 10.
Top-ranked Jasmine Fryer of West Valley highlighted girls action, advancing to the quarterfinals with pins over Reggan Grade of Richland and her closest competition, second-ranked Vatoria Keyes of Edmonds-Woodway.
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