Kent-Meridian High School’s Joshua Smith taking down a favored regional champion appeared to be the upset of the day at Mat Classic XXV.
When people look at Smith, they see a 5-foot-4 senior who has accomplished more at the state level as a pole vaulter in track and field than as a wrestler.
What folks don’t know is that Smith comes from a large household with eight siblings. All six of his brothers wrestled in high school, with Chris winning a Mat Classic title for the Royals in 2001.
So Joshua Smith was ready. And getting by Lake Stevens’ Jesse Peterson, the top-ranked Class 4A wrestler at 138 pounds, on Friday wasn’t as daunting as you might think.
More challenging was how to get the news out that Smith would be in today’s semifinals. He was leaving that up to his father, Herbert.
“He is texting all of (my brothers),” Smith said with a smile after defeating Peterson, 8-5. “They really want me to take a (4A) title. I want to take it.”
Nothing gets decided on the first day at Mat Classic. But the team races have a tendency to take shape before the final two championship rounds today – with the semifinals starting at 10 a.m., and the finals scheduled for 5 p.m.
Since the inception of Mat Classic in 1989, no school has won more championships than Lake Stevens. Brent Barnes’ group is looking to add to its haul of eight titles by taking a commanding lead in the 4A race.
The Vikings (84 points) have nine guaranteed state placers, including seven in the semifinals in their runaway effort over defending 4A champion Tahoma (64) and Graham-Kapowsin (541/2) of the South Puget Sound League.
“I can’t be unhappy,” Barnes said. “It’s easy to get greedy.”
When defending 3A champion Enumclaw lost nine of its first 12 matches, it opened the door wide for University. Even though the Spokane-based Titans (69) hold a slim lead over Decatur (661/2) and Sunnyside (621/2), they are in the best position to tally gobs of points today – especially with four semifinalists, led by the Orndorff brothers.
The swing match of the 3A tournament came between two of the heavy hitters of the top teams. University’s Tanner Orndorff scored on a late reversal in the second period, then rode Decatur’s Rowland Gaydosh ragged in the final round to post a 4-2 quarterfinal victory at 195.
“If (Gaydosh) wins, he probably goes to the final,” Orndorff said. “It was big. That was a 10-point swing.”
There is more at stake in the 2A tournament than who emerges from the team race. With a small lead over four-time reigning 1A champion Orting, and five-time defending 2A champion Deer Park, Othello is in best shape with five semifinalists.
Granger (67) leads 1A, Liberty Bell (1001/2) leads 1B/2B, and Warden (621/2) leads the girls’ tournament.
If all goes expected this morning, many eyes will be on the 2A championship mat tonight to see if North Kitsap’s Jake Velarde can become the 11th wrestler in state history to win four Mat Classic titles.
After a sluggish opener, Velarde warmed up in the afternoon for a 16-1 victory over Sumner’s Jeremy Jackson in the quarterfinals at 138.
“I came out a little tired – didn’t eat enough for breakfast,” Velarde said. “At the break, I went back, rehydrated and re-ate, and felt good in that last match.”
For a guy in the position he’s in, Velarde seems unflappable.
“I am out here to have a blast, and enjoy every match and have a good time,” Velarde said.
Including Velarde, all seven of The News Tribune’s “Untouchables” are through to the semifinals. Included in that are two-time champions Josh Newberg of Kelso (3A, 126); Bobby Reece III of Kingston (2A, 160); and Chandler Rogers of Mead (4A, 170).
Not since 2005 (Foss’ Robert Davis at 152) has a metro Tacoma wrestler won a state title. Wilson’s Jake Ferris wants to end that drought.
He nearly did it a season ago, losing to Blanchet’s Peter Johnson in the final seconds of the 195 championship match at 3A.
After surviving a close 11-6 decision over Meadowdale’s Ciaran Ball – a match in which he was on his back in the third period – he is one round away from returning to bid for a title.
“I want it so bad,” Ferris said. “I’ve given blood, sweat and tears for this.”Todd Milles: 253-597-8442 email@example.com blogs.thenewstribune.com @ManyHatsMilles