Trent Nivala was exhausted, but knew he couldn’t succumb to the pain.
The Puyallup Vikings’ 285-pound wrestler was in double overtime against his biggest rival, Alex Boynton of Graham-Kapowsin. The winner of the showdown would ensure themselves a berth at the Class 4A Mat Classic state championships this weekend at the Tacoma Dome.
All Nivala had to do was escape from the bottom position to have an opportunity to place third or fourth at regionals. But if he failed to do so in 30 seconds, Boynton would win, and Nivala’s dreams of going to the Mat Classic would die.
It took just 12 seconds. Nivala had lost to Boynton the past three times he faced him, but he won when it mattered the most.
“The last time I wrestled against him, I got pretty much destroyed,” Nivala said. “When it came down to it, I won the match because he was more tired than me. I’m in better condition.
“Those last 30 seconds, I was thinking this was it. It was my whole season or nothing. I told myself in my head that, ‘You don’t stand up right now, then you have accomplished nothing.’ It was hard, but I was able to win.”
Nivala went on to place third at the Class 4A Region II tournament this past Saturday at Auburn High School. First-year Vikings head coach Aaron Lee was proud of his grittiness.
“He lost the battles, but he won the war,” Lee said. “Trent has been pushing himself really hard. He has the endurance now where, earlier in the season, he didn’t. It paid off.”
Puyallup’s Matt Voss earned a district title at 220 pounds when he pinned Beamer’s KJ Skannal in the finals. Voss (33-0) has been a dominant force all year. He advanced to the Mat Classic last year but didn’t place.
“It is going to be fun,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to it. I’m going to try my very hardest.”
Other Vikings wrestlers who qualified for this weekend’s state championships include Jasmine Tuilaepa (190, first place at regionals), Haley Franich (first place), Jordyn Bartelson (118, second place) and Joey Meyer (195, fourth place).
Rogers team captain Damian Jackson finished second in the 152-pound division. Jackson (18-8) is excited about earning his second consecutive appearance at the Mat Classic.
“I’m going to take every match one at a time,” he said. “It is a long tournament, and if you start looking too far ahead, that is when you get caught and bad things happen.”
Other Rogers grapplers who qualified for state included Kendra Smith (100, first place), Kaitlyn Kroneman (100, fourth place), Matt Lockey (220, third place), Brandon Brenenstahl (145, fourth place) and Daniel Wernofsky (126, fourth place).
Rogers girls wrestling head coach Tom Tripple is proud of how far the Rams’ program has came in recent years.
“In 2008, we started with just one girl,” he said. “The past couple of years, we have had about 20 girls on the team.
“It’s nice to have so many girls out for wrestling and see the development.”
Emerald Ridge wrestler ShaRaya Quinn finished second in the 124-pound division to qualify for the Mat Classic.