There was sense of familiarity about the Inland Empire Classic wrestling tournament hosted by Central Valley on Saturday afternoon.
Twenty of last year’s top-four finishers were in the finals of this year’s event and the Moses Lake Chiefs and Post Falls Trojans finished one-two again, albeit in reverse order.
The low-to-middle weights were particularly stout, filled as they were with returning state champions and high placers.
The feature match came at 138 pounds where a pair of two-time titlists, Central Valley’s Blake Beard and the Trojans’ Alius Delarosa, faced off. It was all Beard, whose thorough 7-0 victory earned him Outstanding Wrestler of the tournament.
It was one of three head-to-head meetings between wrestlers from schools on each side of the Washington-Idaho border. The Bears won twice.
“I just feel really honored,” Beard said after receiving his award. “It’s one of my goals to win an award here. It’s (the result of) four years of hard work.”
As for the title victory, the two-time Washington champion said he wanted to make a statement. “I’m on a mission. I want to break everybody,” he said.
He scored in all three rounds, with a pair of takedowns, an escape and a reversal.
CV teammate Braeden Orrino’s near-pin in the second round lifted him to a 5-2 victory over Steven Zettle at 145 pounds.
In the 126-pound class, Post Falls’ returning state champ Drake Foster rallied from Bryson Beard’s first-round takedown and pulled out a 4-3 decision with a third-round escape.
“He had long arms and really heavy hands,” Foster said. “I was hustling to get back to center and push through obstacles.”
East Valley national age-group freestyle champion Trey Meyer locked into a physical contest with Moses Lake’s Chase Clason, who finished third in state last year. The two were tied after two periods before Clason escaped to take a 4-3 lead. But Meyer muscled his way to a takedown with 27 seconds left for the victory.
Was the fact he was a national champ a determinant?
“I never panicked,” he said. “Actually, I’ve been really cautious this weekend. I was wrestling afraid to lose. I’ve got to quit doing that.”
The Trojans finished second with 239.5 points to Moses Lake’s 250, despite four champions – Justin Farnsworth (285), Seth McLeod (182) and TJ Wolf (132) the others – among seven finalists. The Chiefs made up the difference in the consolation rounds.
Lakeland’s Conor Shepherd (220) and Killian Estes (195) and Colville’s Ryley Smith (160) were other area champions.
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