TACOMA – TJ Baun of Colville is back at Mat Classic XXIX a final time, looking to win again after falling heartbreakingly short last year.
A State 1A champ as a sophomore, Baun was in the final last year when he was illegally slammed to the mat.
Instead of taking a win by injury default – a win that would have given Colville a team championship – Baun decided to finish the match.
He lost, but he left with his head held high.
“Even though wrestling is the love of my life and one of the most important things, sometimes doing the hard rights is more important than doing the easy wrongs,” Baun said.
He applied for admission to the Naval Academy. During his interview in early December, a Naval official brought up last year’s state tournament.
“They thought that my showing of character went a long ways not just in the sport of wrestling but in life,” Baun said.
Baun got off to a good start Friday at state, winning his opening matches by pin.
Earlier in the week, Baun received news that he had gained admission to the Naval Academy. He’ll wrestle there next year.
“Above all, I’m going to serve my country,” Baun said. “While I’m at the Naval Academy, I’ll still get a great education in leadership and wrestling is just a part of the deal.”
Colville and Deer Park are in the chase for the team title. But if they hope to stay in the hunt, they may need some help.
Favored Granger got off to a fast start, moving nine into the semifinals. Deer Park advanced seven and Colville four.
“Hopefully, our tougher guys will beat their tougher guys and even out the playing field (Granger),” Baun said. “We’re banking on our front door guys to do their jobs and our back door guys to do their jobs.”
Joining Baun (138 pounds) in the semis are his brother Trent (120), Reuben Seeman (132) and Thailor Morrison (160).
Deer Park moved along Matt Jorgensen (106), Everett Pierce (113), Seth Hoog (126), Brent Hodgson (138), Dean Lockwood (145), Ethan Newman (145) and Gabe Sanchez (hwt).
Other Northeast A semifinalists are Hunter Nees of Freeman (113), Dalton Young (138) and Akio Yamada (170) of Lakeside and Conner Krouse (195) of Chewelah.
Granger lead with 114 points, Colville is next with 84.5 and Deer Park has 74.5.
The Great Northern League has five wrestlers alive in the semifinals.
They are: Spencer Clegg (126) of Clarkston; Randy McDonald (132) and Winston Scott (182) of East Valley; Zack Nguyen (138) of Cheney; and defending champ Drake Ferguson (160) of West Valley.
Seventeen eastern Washington wrestlers advanced to the semifinals.
They are: Ethan Hull (113), Rylan Anderson (132), Caleb Cole (138), Thomas Perryman (145), Justis Anderson (152), Ethan Lendt (170) and Hunter Dawley (hwt) of Reardan; Avery Kitt (106), Randy Dixon (126) and Nicholas Schurger (220) of Springdale; Kaleb Dunlap (106) and Joe Peasley (160) of Wilbur-Creston; Ryan Issakides (120) of Selkirk; Travis Knauff (145) of Garfield-Palouse; Dane Hall (152) of Colfax; Taylor Flesher (160) of Kettle Falls; and Cody Perryman (hwt) of Inchelium.
Miranda Scott (115) of West Valley and Shallow Crossley (235) of Springdale moved into the semifinals.
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