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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Mat Classic 35: Mead sets 3A scoring record en route to third-straight team title

By Madison McCord For The Spokesman-Review

TACOMA – Mead senior Josh Neiwert had high expectations for his team going into this weekend’s Mat Classic 35.

But even he was shocked Saturday night when the Panthers not only won their third consecutive 3A team title at the Tacoma Dome, but did so in record-setting fashion.

“I still don’t believe we scored that much,” Neiwert said. “It’s hard to explain what this team means to me. This year has been a turning point in my life and I feel like this experience will help me as I grow.

“It’s just an unreal feeling knowing I was able to lead this team.”

Mead’s 272.5 points are the most scored in a 3A tournament since the classification’s beginning in 1972. The Panthers broke their record of 235.5 points, which they set in 2022.

“We brought 17 guys and every single one scored points for us,” Mead coach Phil McLean said. “Doing what we did this weekend is pretty special. I always tell the kids to just wrestle and let the points take care of themselves, but for this team to do that is pretty fitting.”

The record-breaking performance was powered by a trio of state champions in Kaysic Lundquist at 106 pounds, Neiwert at 132 and Jeroen Smith at 150. Mead also had a pair of third-place finishers and had 11 total wrestlers on the podium.

Lundquist, a sophomore, set the tone from the start of the championship session with a back-and-forth 9-7 victory over rival Tanner Crosby from Mt. Spokane – Lundquist’s fourth victory in as many weeks over the Wildcats senior.

“I was super nervous going out there, but then we got into a flow and it turned into a battle which I loved,” Lundquist said. “He threw me late in the match and that’s when I told myself that I have to turn it on and I took over from there.”

Neiwert followed up his title from last year with a 12-6 victory over Lincoln’s Tavarre Lee. Smith – who is also a senior – finally claimed his first state title with a 4-1 decision over Yelm’s Lake Harris. Smith took second place as a sophomore at Pullman.

“I’m still flustered, honestly, and just trying to soak it all in now that it’s done,” Neiwert said. “I’m so lucky to have been a part of this team.”

The third consecutive title for the Panthers also makes it six 3A titles in a row for the Greater Spokane League, as Mt. Spokane claimed the crown from 2018-2020.

“Now it’s about the continuation,” McLean said. “It even goes down to our youth programs and thinking that you always have depth and those kids are motivated to get to this level.”

Meanwhile, it was an afternoon of mixed emotions for the University boys, who finished the weekend with one champion, two runners-up and 114 points – good enough for a fourth-place finish.

U-Hi’s Czar Quintanilla made it two titles in two Tacoma trips at 113, with a 14-9 win over River Ridge’s Haziel Soto – who nearly pinned Quintanilla in the closing seconds. Junior Samuel Thomas came up just short in a 3-2 ultimate tiebreaker overtime loss, and senior Taylor Daines also ended up on the wrong end of a tight match in a 4-3 loss at 126.

Brendan Hughes also made sure Mt. Spokane wouldn’t head home without a champion. The sophomore claimed the top prize at 215 after defeating Mountain View’s Ayden Denbo 3-2 in a showdown of top-ranked wrestlers.

Pullman crowns three champions in 2A

After several years of silver, the talented trio from Pullman is golden. Israel Acosta, Ivan Acosta and Aydin Peltier all overcame previous second-place finishes in past Mat Classics to win the 144-, 150- and 157-pound 2A tournaments, respectively.

“We scouted these guys so hard, we worked film all last night, we followed our game plan perfectly,” Pullman coach Marcus Crossler said. “It’s impossible for me to be more proud of these boys. It’s truly unbelievable.”

Israel capped a dominant two-day run – in which he did not allow a single point to be scored against him – with a third-round pin against Grandview’s Julian Sanchez. Israel, a junior, had four falls in as many matches over the weekend.

That set the stage for older brother Ivan and a showdown with Orting’s two-time champion Apollo Cruz. The pair traded early points, but after a late escape from Ivan, Cruz was unable to earn a tying takedown, giving Ivan his first state title after two consecutive second-place finishes.

“He’s one of the harder wrestlers in the state to go against,” Ivan said. “But I thought that my style matched up well and I stuck to what I knew I could do to win.”

Peltier – who is a senior along with Ivan – capped the trio’s perfect day with a 3-0 decision over White River’s Caleb Dale. Peltier had previous state finishes of second in 2022 and fourth in 2023.

“It’s amazing to finally get it done, but it feels even better doing it alongside my brothers,” Ivan said.

Pullman also finished with 88 team points, good enough for a tie for fourth place.

CV’s Beard adds his name to family legacy

It’s time to add another name to the wall of champions in the Central Valley wrestling room – and as is usually the case, the last name on the plate will be Beard.

Senior Blaine Beard upset two-time defending champion Elias McDonald of Sumner with a 3-0 decision to win his first state title in the 132-pound 4A tournament.

“All those long, hard hours and cutting weight. I Just can’t believe that it’s real,” Beard said. “I want to get back in that room soon and see my name up alongside my brothers. I feel like I can actually brag a little bit with them now.”

Mead’s Josh Neiwert celebrates after winning the 132-pound 3A title during the second day of Mat Classic 35 on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2024, at the Tacoma Dome in Tacoma, Wash.

Josh Neiwert of team champion Mead celebrates Saturday after winning the Mat Classic 132-pound 3A title at the Tacoma Dome.