It’s a long-term goal that requires a tremendous amount of skill, dedication and patience — and a little bit of luck.
One small slip can shatter the dream in an instant.
Since 1966, only nine wrestlers in Washington have been crowned four-time high school state champions, according to the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association.
Orting High School sophomore Fred Green had the opportunity to practice against one of the wrestlers on that list, Drew Templeman, last season. Green’s relationship with the then-senior gave him a glimpse at the kind of dedication it takes to accomplish the goal.
“Drew was very inspirational to me,” Green said. “He worked so hard in the practice room.”
Green took the first step on his own journey toward that feat last season, capturing the Class 1A state title in the 106-pound weight class.
The sophomore is off to a great start this season in the 113-pound class. Green began the season with nine consecutive pins before suffering his first loss. He fell, 9-4, to nationally ranked Casey Cobb, a junior from Kuna, Idaho, in the championship match at the Tri-State Invitational on Saturday in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.
“When you have a target on your back, you have to work harder than your opponent,” Green said. “I face every guy like it’s the state finals.”
Winning four high school state titles would be a storybook ending for Green, who has been wrestling in folkstyle, freestyle and Greco-Roman tournaments around the Northwest region since he was 5 years old.
Competing each season from October through July, he won 14 USA Wrestling state titles before entering high school.
“He learned about technique, pressure and (having) mat savvy,” said his father, Fred Green Sr., who coached him before he reached high school. “Where most kids just coming out of junior high wrestling might tense up for big matches, Fred gets more amped up.”
Despite his success, Green continues working hard to perfect his craft. This season, he has focused on becoming more diverse in his style.
“While he was scrambling around the mat before, now he is controlling the situation,” said Jody Coleman, Orting’s first-year coach. “He’s baiting people into doing what he wants them to do.”
And opponents are falling into the traps set by Green. At Tri-State, three of his four pins came in 71 seconds or faster.
“I like to go out there and get it done so you have energy for the next match,” Green said.
The sophomore also constantly critiques himself on how each match went and what he did wrong.
“I’m a pretty tough critic of myself,” he said. “I know exactly what I did wrong the second after I did it. There is always one thing per match I can get better at.”
It also doesn’t hurt that Green has some top-notch teammates to face in practice. Orting won four consecutive 1A state titles before moving up this season to 2A, where the Cardinals are ranked No. 2 by the Washington Wrestling Report.
“We push each other pretty hard,” said senior Bryce Templeman, Drew’s younger brother, who wrestles at 120 pounds. “(Fred) never stops moving, and he’s quick on his feet. He’s like a little spitfire — he never runs out of energy.”
Green admits winning four high school state titles is always in the back of his mind, but he knows it’s something he can’t obsess about. He knows he can’t afford to look past any opponent — no matter how seemingly easy the match might seem.
“I know it takes baby steps to get there,” Green said.
TNT’s 2012-13 PRESEASON WRESTLING PREVIEW
Team to watch
Last February, Tahoma shattered the Class 4A state meet record with 190 points by getting state-placing finishes from 10 of its 15 participants. Six of those 10 return this season, led by Tim Whitehead (120), Cruz Velasquez (126), Garrett Autrey (182) and Matt Hopkins (220).
Dual-meet league favorites
SPSL North – Tahoma. SPSL South – Graham-Kapowsin. Narrows 4A – Yelm. SPSL 3A – Enumclaw. Narrows 3A – Timberline. SPSL 2A – Orting. Nisqually 1A – Vashon Island.
Wrestler to watch
North Kitsap’s Jake Velarde, bound for Old Dominion, will try to become the 10th wrestler to win a fourth state championship at Mat Classic in February. He won the 138-pound title last season in Class 2A and is competing in the 145-pound class this season.
113 - Fred Green, Orting, so.; Darren Harris, Yelm, so. 120 - Glenn Robertson, Fife, jr.; Colton Tracy, Bonney Lake, jr. 126 - Josh Crager, Cascade Christian, jr.; Tyke Reid, Enumclaw, sr. 138 – Adam Romano, Graham-Kapowsin, sr. 145 – Dillon Harris, Yelm, sr.; Lucas Somera, Enumclaw, sr.; Ian Steen, Graham-Kapowsin, sr. 152 – Beau Gore, Orting, sr.; Casey Larson, Peninsula, sr. 160 – Nick Karis, Decatur, sr.; Bobby Reece, Kingston, jr. 170 – Rowland Gaydosh, Decatur, sr. 195 – Jake Ferris, Wilson, sr.; Joe Gomez, Graham-Kapowsin, sr. 220 – Stone Hart, Timberline, sr.; Matt Hopkins, Tahoma, sr. 285 – Monike Failauga, Fife, firstname.lastname@example.org