In what was the best district showing by a Ferris wrestling team since Coach Tim Owen took over five years ago, the Saxons last Saturday qualified nine wrestlers for regionals.
“As a coach, you always dream a little bit,” Owen said. “It was really kind of unbelievable as we lived up to those dreams.”
Triplet brothers Jack and Joe Claros narrowly missed wrestling each other in the finals. They finished first and third, respectively, in the 101-pound division. This is Jack’s second trip to regionals, set for Friday and Saturday at Central Valley.
Another return qualifier, Ryan Ellis, finished fourth at 115 pounds. Jeremy Eaton duplicated the effort at 129.
Zack Moffatt, second at 141 pounds, had started the season slowly after being sick but hit his stride three weeks ago at the Rocky Mountain Classic tourney in Missoula.
A pair of Saxons, Ty Williams and Nick Pavlin, wrestled each other for the championship at 178 pounds. Williams won by pin.
“I talked to them beforehand and told them to treat it like any other match,” Owen said. “There is a lot at stake for regionals. The winner gets a better bracket.”
Rounding out Ferris qualifiers were another pair of brothers, Chad and Chris Cluever. Chad, a junior varsity wrestler all year, was fourth at 190, while Chris finished fourth in the heavyweight division.
“My job now is to impress upon them (my wrestlers) that it’s going to get tougher,” Owen said. “A lot tougher.”
Cheney swimmmers going to state
Six Cheney Blackhawk swimmers, led by junior Gavin Peterson, qualified for the state championships Feb. 21-22 in Federal Way with a strong showing at last weekend’s district meet.
Peterson will swim in the 200-meter intermediate medley, the 500-meter freestyle, and two of three relays at the state meet.
Five other swimmers, including James Grant, Jesse Weston, Tim Jackson, Nathan Gosse, and Matt Thompson, round out Cheney’s 200-meter medley and 200- and 400-meter freestyle relay teams. Coach Mike Guertin said he’ll wait until he sees the times from the other teams at Federal Way before deciding on which combination of these swimmers will make up the relay teams.
After graduating 10 swimmers from an 11-1 team last year, Guertin’s Blackhawks posted an 8-2-1 record this season. As a result, coaches from Eastern Washington named Guertin Coach of the Year in Districts 5, 6 and 7.
“It was one of those years that by losing 10 seniors, nobody expected us to be where we are today,” Guertin said. “It’s obviously an honor.”
Liberty qualifies one
Liberty High wrestler Jason Marburger, a 101-pounder who finished third at districts last Saturday, is the Palouse school’s lone qualifier for regionals this weekend in Yakima.
Marburger, the Bi-County’s No. 1 seed into districts, may have been looking past his first-round opponent, Medical Lake’s Keith Willis, said Coach Ryan Murphy. Marburger lost to Willis by a point. After winning his remaining matches, however, Marburger again ended up face-to-face with Willis in the contest for third and fourth. This second time, a focused Marburger won handily, 9-0.
Pat Conley, Liberty’s No. 2 seed at 122, was knocked unconscious in his third-round match. He did not suffer a concussion and felt fine by the end of the day, but coaches held him out of the rest of the tournament.
Buzzer beater lifts
Medical Lake Carlos Simmons, Medical Lake’s senior point guard, dribbled the length of the court and put in a layup at the buzzer on Friday night to help the Cardinals beat Freeman, 55-53.
It was the third time this year that Simmons has been involved in a game-winning play.
In December, ML won its first game of the year on a 16-foot buzzer beater from the 5-foot-7 Simmons. A month ago against Chewelah, he fed Jeff Nichols for a basket with just a second to go.
“I like him to have the ball at the end,” Coach Dave Olzendam said. “We just get it in to him, and then it’s whatever happens.”
A night after ML’s win over the Scotties, the Cardinals lost in double overtime to Chewelah in the team’s second Northeast A meeting. The loss highlights the importance of the game next Friday against Lakeside.
If ML wins, then it will be alone in second place and receive one of the coveted byes at districts awarded to the league’s top two teams.
Cheney qualifies five for regionals
To the uninitiated, wrestling may not seem like a sport brimming with strategy.
In entirely different ways, however, two Cheney wrestlers who emerged as champions from last weekend’s Frontier League district tourney proved otherwise.
Mike Gibson, a junior 141-pounder, was tied 10-10 with East Valley’s Brad Crockett with just 35 seconds left in the third period. Gibson had the advantage, but Cheney coach Aaron Mason advised his wrestler to sacrifice a one-point escape; with 35 seconds to go, he still had time for a two-point takedown, and Mason wanted to avoid a lastsecond escape that would have left Gibson no time for a countermaneuver.
“You wouldn’t want to do that with every wrestler,” Mason said. “But Mike is in great shape, and I had a lot of confidence in him that he could get a takedown in the time that was left.”
Sure enough, Gibson powered Crockett to the floor with 20 seconds to go and held on for the 12-11 win.
Later in the tourney, Cheney 215-pound senior Tom Jud was nearly the victim of strategy in his championship match against Clarkston’s Eric Hollenbeck. Jud had beaten Hollenbeck two weeks ago, 20-5.
Then, Hollenbeck had come at Jud like a “raging bull,” Mason said. Jud, who thrives on these aggressive matches, took advantage of the Clarkston wrestler’s straight-ahead approach.
At districts, however, Hollenbeck was more reserved; he rarely attacked, choosing instead to fight Jud’s aggressive instinct with passivity. It nearly worked.
The match remained tied at 4-4 until a takedown with two seconds left in overtime put Jud ahead 6-4.
“It was good strategy on Clarkston’s part,” Mason said. “They did their homework.”
In addition to its two champions, Cheney qualified three more wrestlers for regionals on Friday and Saturday in Yakima.
Senior Gabe Schaeffer at 135 pounds was second at districts, 190-pound sophomore Seth Morris was third, and senior Jack Myers finished third at 148.
A 1996 state qualifier and two-time Frontier League champ, Eric Seward, watched from the sidelines Friday and Saturday, near the the crutches that have been his constant companion since early January, when Seward injured his knee in practice, ending his season.
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