TACOMA – Q’Veli Quintanilla jumped to the head of the class in 4A 126-pound wrestling as a Gonzaga Prep freshman, leapfrogging four returning state placers to rank first heading into Mat Classic XXXII.
In his opening round match, he scored a 20-5 second round technical fall over Nathan Asistin of Issaquah, then did it again in the quarterfinals, needing little more than three minutes to run away from Enumclaw’s Cade Carter 23-7.
Meanwhile, two-time defending 3A team champion Mt. Spokane got off to something of a slow start, ending the day second in the team standings behind Edmonds-Woodway. In 4A, Mead has 49 points, tied with Lake Stevens for fifth place, well behind leader Chiawana’s 76 points.
Quintanilla made his opponents an ongoing two-for-one offer: they’d escape to score one point, he’d immediately take them down again, scoring two.
“He’s very, very good on his feet,” said Bullpups coach Danny Pearson, who has confidence in Quintanilla heading into Saturday’s semifinal match with fourth-ranked Dominic Sowers of Davis, seventh a year ago at 113 as a sophomore. “He’s looked good all year. He’s been pretty dominant.”
Quintanilla couldn’t help but feel a bit of nerves as a ninth grader making his first appearance at state.
“There was a little jitters, but when I get on the mat it all goes away,” he said.
A new tournament format featured three classifications competing in the morning and three in the afternoon, leaving 4A contenders ample time to rest after morning matches Friday.
“We’re going to get outside, take it easy,” said Pearson. “He doesn’t need to do anything special at this point.”
Quintanilla didn’t plan to spend all his time outside.
“I brought the PS4, so I’ll play the game for a little, then just get ready for tomorrow,” he said.
He piled up his points so quickly that despite two honks of the horn from the score table, the referee allowed his match with Asistin to continue after he had 15-point lead, signaling points for both Quintanilla and Asistin until he was finally whacked with the round-ending towel to get his attention.
Meanwhile, Central Valley heavyweight Braxton Mikesell had an easy but painful first two matches, scoring rapid pins of both Tahoma sophomore Justin Ketzenberg and Lake Stevens senior Wyatt Hall.
Mikesell, the defending 285-pound champion and top-ranked entering state, needed just 16 seconds to pin Ketzenberg and 20 to dispatch Hall.
“I wouldn’t say it was too easy, it’s state,” said Mikesell. “I was hoping for a little bit tougher matches. But I go out not fearing anyone and just wrestle.”
Despite its brevity, Mikesell’s match with Hall came at a cost; making a quick move to take the Vikings’ big man down, he wound up with his left wrist in Hall’s mouth, resulting in blood flow from both wrestlers afterward.
Mikesell also planned to make use of the new format’s added rest.
“I’ll relax and eat a lot because it’s heavyweight,” he said with a smile.
In 3A, North Central’s two top-ranked wrestlers, 106-pound junior Steven Zaragoza and 126-pound sophomore Kenndyl Mobley, both made it through to the semifinals in similar fashion.
Each pinned their first round foe in less than 50 seconds, then had to grind out decisions that went the distance in the quarterfinals.
“You can’t control pinning every person,” said Indians coach Mike Bundy. “All you can control is how hard you wrestle. You’re not always going to end up at the state tournament putting people on their backs.”
Zaragoza pinned Arlo Wilton of Nathan Hale in 36 seconds, then scored a comfortable 8-1 victory over fourth-ranked Jonah Palabrica of Everett.
“The second match was kind of sloppy,” Zaragoza admitted. “I need to warm up more. My body wasn’t ready for it. My coaches told me it was going to be a tough match, but I got a little too comfortable.”
He’ll clash with fifth-ranked Prairie frosh Malachi Wallway in the semis.
Mobley, a returning champion as well as the top-ranked competitor in his weight class, pinned freshman Brandyn Truong of Cleveland in 46 seconds, then beat third-ranked Bethel senior Ryan Brown 5-0.
“I would have liked to get a second pin, but he had good positioning, I just couldn’t put him on his back,” said Mobley. “I need to come back stronger, with more food in my system, more liquids.”
“He stayed safe, he wrestled solid,” said Bundy. “He didn’t put himself at risk, which is something we’ve been talking about in the practice room.”
Mobley takes on Snohomish senior Matthew Miller in the semifinals.
Mt. Spokane’s somewhat disappointing team results didn’t keep the Wildcats from sending four wrestlers on to the semifinals: Jarret Sharp (113), Ky Haney (145), Casey Howerton (152) and Carter Miethe (182).
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