Who said eagles are an endangered species?
It certainly wasn’t anyone who attended the Region 4 A/B wrestling tournament at Mead High School on Saturday where the Lakeside Eagles swooped to the regional title.
The Eagles, who amassed 182 points to easily outdistance second-place Quincy (117.5) boast two champions, five runners-up and will send 10 wrestlers to the state tournament in Tacoma on Friday and Saturday.
“We figured we needed nine guys to make a run at it (the state title),” said Lakeside coach Scott Jones. “We have 10 going, but we still feel like we could have had a couple more make the trip.”
One of those who seemed a shooin to make the trek to the other side of the state for Lakeside was Jason Belyea, the top seed for District 7 in the 108-pound class. Belyea opened the tournament with a win, then lost back-to-back decisions before rallying to beat Colfax’s Robert Welch 4-2 for fifth place. Only the top four placers move on to state.
Despite Belyea’s early exit the Eagles still managed to steal the show, although 122-pounder Tim Weisser was left feeling a little shellshocked after his title match.
Weisser was leading Medical Lake’s Ben Steele 1-0 with less than 30 seconds left in the third round when he was tagged for a 1-point unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for shoving Steele across the mat and out of bounds. The match went to overtime and Steele quickly scored on a takedown for a 3-1 victory.
Adam Christen (129) became the Eagles first champion with a 6-2 win over Omak’s Alvin Ives. Christen fell behind 2-1 after the first round before rallying for five straight points. Ives was the only fourth seed to make it to a championship match.
Nate Bohl finished second for Lakeside in the 141-pound class. Bohl dropped a 6-0 decision to Tonasket’s Ryan Schmelzer, who now boasts a 28-0 record this season. Schmelzer and Bohl place third and sixth, respectively, at state last year.
Lakeside tasted both the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat in the 148-pound title match.
That’s because the Eagles’ Aaron Laughery was up against the Eagles’ Matt Westenfelder.
Westenfelder beat Laughery last week in the district tournament, but this time it was Laughery who came up on the right side of a 3-2 decision.
At least it seemed that way.
“This was actually the worst thing that could happen to me personally,” Laughery said. “There’s always someone who feels bad and when it’s your teammate it makes it really tough.”
Lakeside also picked up a pair of second-place finishes from 158-pounder Sean Wheeler and Randy Brownell (215).
Almira-Coulee/Hartline’s Jason Ogle easily handled Brewster’s David Ruiz 5-1 for the 115-pound crown. Ruiz is the first wrestler from Brewster to qualify for state.
Matt Schneider, of Davenport, topped the 215-pounders with his 9-4 victory over Brownell.
Deer Park’s Heath Berger (168) was edged by Quincy’s Brad Duda 6-5. Duda is now 34-0.
Chewelah’s Luke Sheppard dropped a 4-0 decision to Quincy’s Brent Duda, who, like his brother, is undefeated this season.
Scott Eller (275), of Reardan, was pinned by Omak’s Oren Jensen in the second round. Jensen was state runner-up last year. He has a 21-0 record this season and sports a 65-2 career mark. Jensen, a defensive end, was also an all-state selection in football.
Lakeside now sets its sites on a state title although, according to Laughery, it’s bittersweet.
“I’m disappointed all 14 of us didn’t make it,” he said. “Belyea’s loss was a total heartbreaker. He’s such a team leader for us and we’re sure going to miss having him there.”
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