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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Mat Classic 35: Pullman trio aiming to take final step up podium after semifinal berths

By Madison McCord For The Spokesman-Review

TACOMA – When dual matches weren’t going Pullman’s way this season, coach Marcus Crossler could usually count on one thing.

Well, make that three things – victories at 144, 150 and 157 pounds.

That’s because the Greyhounds sport the trio of Israel Acosta, Ivan Acosta and Aydin Peltier, all of whom breezed into the 2A semifinals at the 35th edition of Mat Classic on Friday at the Tacoma Dome.

“I’ve had all these guys since they were 4 or 5 years old, and it makes me emotional to talk about because they are just so awesome both on and off the mat,” Crossler said. “They’ve helped build the program to where it is today and it’s only getting better because of them.”

Having three dominant wrestlers within three weight classes is not only good for scoring points in bunches, but it also makes for an incredibly tough practice environment, Peltier said.

“Izzy and Ivan are really special dudes to wrestle with, but also just to be around all the time,” Peltier said. “Wrestling with them has not only helped me out on the mat, but also just grinding in the practice room we all just talk through technique and what we see from each other.”

That sharing of information was on full display in Friday’s opening rounds, as the three combined for five pins and one major decision.

But success on the mats in the Tacoma Dome is nothing new for the trio. The Acosta brothers made it to their respective title matches last season, with both finishing second. Ivan also took second in 2021, joined by a silver-medal performance from Peltier.

“Getting to experience the parade and getting out on that final stage my sophomore year was amazing,” Peltier said. “But getting fourth last year left a really bitter taste in my mouth, and so I said this is my last year and I’m going to throw everything I’ve got at it so I can be down there experiencing the finals with my teammates.”

There are still a few hurdles ahead of the trio before state titles can be celebrated – with Ivan possibly facing the toughest task.

Ivan is on the opposite side of the 150-pound bracket from Orting’s Apollo Cruz, who defeated Israel in last year’s 138-pound championship match.

“It doesn’t matter. You have to go get the guy in front of you no matter where he’s from or if he’s beaten you before,” Crossler said. “Everybody is good now. There are no slouches when you get to the state semifinals.”

The effort of the Acostas, Peltier and Pullman’s other qualifier, Evan McDougle, have also paid off in the team standings as the Greyhounds sit tied for sixth place with 37 points after the first day.

“The younger guys in our program look up to these guys that made it to state,” Crossler said. “These guys have had such success and they want to emulate that, but it’s a progression. It’s important that we remind them that Izzy, Ivan and Aydin all started with the basics too.”

The Greyhounds aren’t the only Greater Spokane League team to send wrestlers to Saturday’s semifinals. West Valley will have three representatives in Logan Utecht (132), Andrew Royston (175) and Josh Moreau (190). Clarkston’s Dawson Bailey also advanced to the semis at 132, joined by East Valley’s Micah Burkhart (215).

Saturday’s championship round is scheduled to begin at 3:30 p.m.

Mead takes sizable lead in 3A team race

The trek toward a third consecutive state title for Mead got off to a strong start, as seven Panthers punched their tickets to the semifinals.

Kaysic Lundquist (106), James Mason (126), Josh Neiwert (132), Braxton Smith (138), Jeroen Smith (150), Braeden Harvey (215) and Markus Fetcho (285) all earned berths to the semis, while Neiwert is looking for his second title in as many years.

Mead advanced 11 of its 17 qualifiers to Saturday.

“It was a pretty good day,” Mead coach Phil McLean said. “There were a few that hurt really bad, but in general they wrestled and competed really well.”

Mead sits at a tournament-best 182.5 points after the first day, with Hermiston (Oregon) in second at 92.

“Everybody is placed now, so it’s just working out the order. But as far as the team thing, we just need to wrestle the guy in front of us and it will all work out,” McLean said.

University, fifth in the team standings with 63 points, advanced three to the semifinals, including defending champion Czar Quintanilla (113), Taylor Daines (126) and Samuel Thomas (165).

Other GSL semifinalists in 3A include the Mt. Spokane duo of Tanner Crosby (106) and Brendan Hughes (215), along with North Central’s Tristan Zaragoza (120).

Central Valley sends two to semis

Central Valley’s Blaine Beard and Terran Manson earned semifinal berths in the 4A tournament at 132 and 138, respectively.

Beard, a senior, will look to improve on his past Mat Classic finishes of fourth and seventh places. Manson, also a senior, is seeking his first state medal.

Gonzaga Prep’s Lawrence Jackson and Noah Holman advanced to the quarterfinals, but both lost to move into the consolation bracket.

CV leads all GSL teams with 26 points, good for 11th place.