It isn’t how you begin, it’s the way you finish.
But in the case of the Mead Panthers, their start for all intents and purposes sealed the deal in winning the Inland Empire Wrestling Tournament Saturday at Central Valley.
They won the first three finals matches en route to an impressive team victory. Mead had seven finalists and four other top-six placers for a convincing 254-178.5 team victory over Lakeland of Rathdrum. Pasco’s Chiawana placed third with 171 points.
“That’s a good day,” Panthers coach Phil McLean said. “It wraps up a pretty intense two weeks for us. And the great thing is there are things to work on, so I couldn’t be more pleased with that.”
Mead won the Deer Park Invitational to open the season and two Greater Spokane League duals before the victory at CV.
Coeur d’Alene’s Casey Randles wowed appreciative opposing coaches watching from the stands on his way to the tourney’s outstanding wrestler award.
Randles pinned two of his foes less than a minute into the second period of quarterfinals and finals and scored a technical fall, piling up 17 points to win the semis, also midway through the second round.
If there were a challenger for outstanding wrestler, it could have been CV’s 145-pounder Braedon Orrino. He worked over three foes with 17-2 technical falls and had a major decision in the title match.
Mead’s Chase Randall beat Lakeland sophomore Sam Edelblute at 3:24 of his semifinal, then toughed out the title match 6-5 against Lakeland freshman Alex Edelblute at 106 pounds.
Panthers Chase Tebbets and Matt Jones made it back-to-back-to-back with major decision triumphs. The fourth Mead champion was Cameron Crawford by major decision at 152. Other finalists were Trevor Senn, at 182, and Malachi Thompson, 220.
Lakeland had two other champions – Larry Johnson, who had two pins in less than a minute and a 5-1 decision over Bridger Beard at 138 pounds. Jared Walker muscled his way to the 195 crown with three pins and a technical fall.
Class 1A Colville, state runner-up last year, acquitted itself well with three finalists, including 126-pound champion Trevor Braun. At 132, East Valley’s Randy McDonald outrolled Colville’s Trevor Morrison 12-8. Colville’s John Knight was second at 160.
CdA’s Alex Marshall was the 220-pound champion. Markus Robinson of Rogers used his quickness that led to a reversal and late takedown for a 4-2 title at 285.
But the night belonged to Mead.
“I think the biggest thing is I’ve only lost one kid from last year’s team,” McLean said. “They’re still young, working hard and training hard. They were thrown into the fire last year, so they’re not afraid. Every kid is competing well and that’s the most impressive thing for me.”
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