The Super Bowl of high school wrestling is just nine days away.
The 25th annual Mat Classic state tournament, featuring wrestlers in all classifications, will begin at the Tacoma Dome on Feb. 15.
In all of my years of covering high school sports, nothing compares to the spectacle of the Mat Classic. Hundreds of wrestlers from every corner of the state converge in Tacoma to compete against the best the Evergreen state has to offer.
The road to the Mat Classic is a long one. The regular season, district and regional tournaments are proverbial hurdles that each wrestler has to leap over in order to meet his or her next challenge.
The regional tournaments, which will take place this Saturday, are typically some of the most intense matches I watch.
Everything is on the line. Every wrestler wants to experience the thrill of taking that “Walk of Champions” through the Tacoma Dome in front of thousands of spectators. It’s become an annual tradition before the championship matches begin.
Every wrestler who competes at the Mat Classic will savor that moment for the rest of their lives.
I find that the majority of wrestlers typically do better in their second go-round than they do in their first appearance. Being a year older and a year wiser makes all the difference in the world.
There are always exceptions — Bryce Evans of Rogers advanced to the state finals as sophomore in 2009 — but, for the most part, competing on that stage typically gives grapplers some stage fright.
Earlier this season, Rogers’ Brandon Brenenstahl said he was awestruck at last year’s Mat Classic, and it contributed to his 0-2 showing in the Class 4A 138-pound division.
“I had been to big venues before, but that place was just different,” Brenenstahl said of the Dome. “I will be ready this year.”
I’m more than ready to cover my sixth consecutive Mat Classic in nine days.
Sports Editor Shaun Scott can be reached at 253-552-7002 or by email at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter, @herald_shaun.