Central Valley, University and East Valley solidified their position in the state high school wrestling power structure with strong efforts during last weekend’s Mat Classic XX in Tacoma.
The Bears brought home the third-place state team trophy, had two individual finalists and six medalists, while the Titans shared their third-straight fourth-place trophy after winning the title in 2004.
While the Knights went unfulfilled in the team race after leading the first day, they weren’t far from winning it all and did have an individual champion.
Coaches were pleased.
“I didn’t have visions of winning it,” said CV coach John Owen, “I thought we were a couple of guys short. But all things considered, we brought nine guys in and six finished in the top four. That’s really exceptional, isn’t it?”
Tyler Cochran capped the Bears 103-point showing with the 215-pound title, and it wasn’t easy. He needed two overtime wins to prevail.
First was in the semifinals where bullish third-place finisher Javon Cunningham of Heritage had his takedown ways. Cochran trailed late 8-5 before penalty points helped him to overtime where he got the winning takedown in a 12-10 triumph.
Championship was against Matt Foxworthy from South Kitsap, who threw him and beat him a year ago. Cochran rallied from a 2-0 deficit to tie 3-3 in the second period and was docked a stall point to send the match into OT. Again, he got the takedown.
“That was a war, wasn’t it?” said Owen of both matches following the final. “I still have not looked at the (team results) board yet. Can I now?”
At 112, Tanner Teeples was no match in the finals for Ephrain Aguilar of 4A champion Graham-Kapowsin. Jacob Neumann pinned teammate Logan Bowman for the second time in a week, this time in the match for third and fourth. Freshman Jarod Maynes lost in the 103-pound semifinals to champ Josh Heinzer, but bounced back for third place over U-Hi’s Tyler Clark.
University placed five and brought home two individual titles. Brian Owen (130) had bookend championships as a freshman and senior with second-places in between.
“Nobody remembers a guy who wins two, they remember a guy who wins four,” Owen said. “That’s my only regret.”
Everyone, however will remember a dominant unbeaten 37-0 senior season in which he never was tested.
“He has the ability to do things others can’t,” said his coach and uncle Don Owen. “It’s time for him to move on and have other challenges. The high school season was not as challenging.”
Anthony Rivera missed state last year because of injury, but wouldn’t be denied at 119 this year winning four matches handily.
“It was nice to come back and show people I would have won it last year,” he said.
Don Owen thought the weekend generally went well, but said he thought sophomore Ryan Zumwalt could just as easily have been the third Titan finalist. He lost 6-5 and almost had a takedown as time expired against eventual champion Brad Perry of Snohomish.
“He wrestled extremely hard here,” said Owen. “Danny Seymour came from nowhere to seventh this year, and Tyler had a good tournament overall.”
EV senior completes cycle
Clete Hanson finished second in state as a sophomore and third last year in a brutally strong weight class. But, in a thriller, he finally won it all.
Not that it was easy. Hanson needed a huge comeback to win 15-13 in overtime in his second match and got a takedown with time running out to preserve a 6-3 win in the finale.
“It’s one-two-three now, I guess,” said Hanson of his career. “It feels really good.”
His dad, Coach Craig Hanson, said that EV’s final fifth-place score of 100.5 points (behind Enumclaw’s 124.5, Yelm’s 119.5 and Sedro Woolley’s 105) was deceptive.
”Keith Babington‘s was a one-pointer. He got pinned because he gambled. Jake Rodriguez had a one-point match (against multiple state champion Kevin O’Neill). And Jordan Berezay throws (eventual champion Marcus Turnquist) to his back,” said Hanson. “For all intents and purposes, we could have had all three in the finals and won state.”
Craig couldn’t have been more happy, however, than to end the tournament witnessing his son’s state title.
“You don’t want it to boil down to this one match because his career has been much bigger than that. But essentially that’s what it was,” he said. “It’s been the greatest pleasure in my life coaching both my sons.”
And there’s a 10-year-old Hanson waiting in the wings.
West Valley’s Justin Fiman had his semifinal match in 2A state where he wanted it. He was in control on a takedown attempt that could have built a lead, but instead sat on his hip and was turned under, eventually losing by pin.
Fiman lost a one-point heartbreaker in his next match, but came up with a victory for fifth place and three-spot improvement over his medal from a year ago.
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