Blake Beard is a two-time state champion on the brink of doing something no other Central Valley wrestler has – win a third consecutive title.
Some defending state champs could cruise along and defend their title. But watch Beard at practice and it’s apparent how much he wants to soak up instructions.
“He’s a student of technique,” Beard’s coach, John Owen, said. “He just continues to absorb technique changes. He’s got the kind of personality that wants to get better all the time.”
There’s a simple reason for it, Beard said.
“The thing about wrestling is you can never know everything,” Beard said. “You can learn something new all the time.”
Securing a coveted third consecutive title, though, won’t be easy. Beard acknowledges as much.
He doesn’t want it to be easy. If Beard advances to the final at Mat Classic XXVII at the Tacoma Dome this weekend, a possible showdown against Jake Douglas of Lake Stevens looms.
Douglas lost to Fred Green of Orting 4-2 in the finals at the Tri-State tournament in December. Green, who is seeking to become the 13th in Washington history to capture four state titles, outlasted Beard 15-7 in an entertaining semifinal at Tri-State.
The 138 class at Tri-State featured 11 state champions.
“Every match I’ll have at state will be tough,” said Beard, 31-1 this season and 128-9 overall. “It could be one of the toughest weights in the tournament. My second match will be against a returning state placer.”
Beard can see what will happen at state.
“You have to envision every match at state and see your hand being raised and see yourself at the top of the (awards) podium,” he said. “I’ll have to wrestle the best I can. When I wrestle the best I can, nobody can beat me.”
Although Green beat Beard, rest assured Beard had Green’s attention.
“I took him down 30 seconds into the match and I cut him right away because I thought I could do it again,” Beard said. “And I took him down again.”
Beard was ahead 4-2 when “I put myself on my back twice,” Beard said.
It cost Beard 10 points.
“No excuses, he beat me,” Beard said. “But I’ve learned from it. You don’t take unnecessary risks. You stay in good position.”
Owen said Beard’s toughest challenge isn’t physical.
“It’s mental, it’s staying focused,” Owen said. “He had some problems in the past staying focused, but he’s done a way better job than last year.”
Owen won’t take a wrestler in better condition to state than Beard.
“He’s been tested. He knows how to win,” Owen said. “If people watched him train, they’d understand a little more about him. His stamina is incredible. He just pushes, pushes and pushes in the (workout) room. He’s a role model in the room. He wins every line we run. If another kid wins, it’s probably because that kid took it easy on an earlier line. Not Blake.”
Beard comes from a wrestling family. He’s the third oldest of 10 siblings, nine of whom are boys.
Bryson, a junior, is ranked first in the state at 120. Bridger, a sophomore, qualified for state at 126.
They have four younger brothers who wrestle. The lone sister, Brielle, a sixth-grader, plays basketball.
All the siblings have a first name beginning with ‘B.’ Blake smiled when he said his parents, Ron and Cindy, found 10 different ‘B’ names.
Ron teaches woodshop and welding at CV, but Cindy home-schools the children.
Blake’s earliest memories involve wrestling.
“It’s been a lifestyle,” he said.
CV finished fourth last year at state. Beard would be disappointed with anything less.
“Everything would have to be perfect, but we could be in the mix for a state title,” Beard said.
Beard will become the second CV wrestler to be a four-time placer.
He gives Owen and his son, Brian, an assistant coach, much credit for his success.
But Owen deflects the praise.
“I think I’ve helped him get better and had an influence,” Owen said. “But his parents deserve as much credit as anybody. They’ve been the ones to drive him and his brothers to all the (offseason) tournaments.”
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