Three Greater Spokane League wrestling team heavyweights went different ways in pursuit of postseason success. And each found it in the first of three successive tournaments that will culminate with Mat Classic XXIII on Feb. 18 and 19 in Tacoma.
Mead and Central Valley had a stirring team competition in the District 8 4A that ended Saturday, while University dominated District 3A foes in the concurrent tourneys at Mead.
Mead’s Panthers edged CV 429.5-406 in team scoring and qualified 18 wrestlers, 13 of them finalists, to Saturday’s regional at Ferris. CV’s Bears advanced 16, nine of them finalists.
University, last year’s State 4A team champ, nearly doubled the score on each of the other three GSL 3A schools, scoring 440, while putting 12 wrestlers into the finals, nine of them champions out of 14 weight classes. The regional is Saturday in Pasco.
District 8 4A
The Panthers won the war, even if they lost the battle during the two-team contest.
Between them, Mead and CV had 22 of 28 wrestlers in finals and won 12 of the 14 weight class crowns. But the Bears won four of six head-to-head titles, three in succession.
The first was at 119 pounds, where freshman Colton Orrino scored early in a 7-3 win over Mead sophomore Cameron Hunt. Three-time state placer Jarod Maynes beat Conner Friend by technical fall, and Brenton Beard followed at 130 with a 13-1 win over Andrew Bassinger.
“I feel we are two of the tougher teams in state,” Beard said. “Three wins is a good way to start and was real important.”
Just as important to Mead’s cause was Sam Voigtlander’s 3-0 win over CV sophomore Tanner Davis at 160 pounds, securing the team title.
“I lost to him 4-3 in the Inland Empire tournament, but I wasn’t as technically sound as I am now,” said the Panthers junior. “It was just listen to the coaches and plain old hard work.”
Mead also won two all-Panthers weight finales, got pins by state champions Jeremy Golding and Jordan Rogers and victory by Rogers’ freshman brother, Chandler.
There is only one senior among the Panthers’ 18 regional qualifiers.
“We had a good weekend,” coach Phil McLean said. “They are young kids and technically can improve in every area. But they competed hard in every match.”
CV coach Tommy Owen, while dissatisfied with the second-place team finish, saw a bright side to advancing so many wrestlers to regional.
“We only left one at home who I felt was a guy to take,” he said.
What happens next weekend, when three per weight class advance to state, will determine the legitimacy of state team title aspirations for both teams, McLean said.
“The way we’re built,” Owen said, “is better for regional and state tournament tournaments.”
District 8 3A
In essence, the meet was a dual – plus two intrasquad matches – between U-Hi and the other 3A schools (if you were scoring as such, it was U-Hi 27, North Central-Mt. Spokane-Shadle Park 21).
NC finished second in tournament scoring with 244.5 points, Mt. Spokane had 243.5 and Shadle Park 240.5, well behind the Titans.
The Titans had finalists in the first five matches, winning all five, including Brandon Byers over teammate Rielly Smith at 130 pounds. They also had both finalists at 285. The most stirring win was at 125 pounds, where sophomore Ryan Gabel upset three-time NC state placer Jared Berlinger 5-4 in four overtimes, by hanging onto his foe for the final sudden-death 30 seconds.
“It’s all a blur,” Gabel said. “When he took bottom I felt I could ride him out. As soon as I got my legs in and they said, ‘10 seconds to go,’ I felt I had it.”
It was one of four one-point U-Hi decisions in the finals. Jacob Fry at 171 continued his successful season, determinedly holding off NC’s Sam Rykken 4-3.
“I feel I have a more developed offense and am smarter knowing what to do when I’m down,” Fry said.
U-Hi coach Don Owen was pleased with the efforts of both wrestlers and happy with the team effort. He had figured on between 15 and 19 regional qualifiers. They advanced 16. From there three advance to state.
“We will have to wrestle well in the (pigtail GSL third-placers vs. CBBN sixth-place district finishers), but I feel good about most of those,” he said. “One thing, we’ve got really good top-end kids.”
Shadle state placer Darren Bunke has had an up-and-down year, but has come on of late and beat Jace Clary 8-3.
“The beginning of the year was pretty rough,” he said. “I don’t think I was as conditioned as I should have been.”
That Clary was wrestling in the finals was remarkable. He underwent surgery a month ago for a knee injury and it was thought his season was over.
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