Fife High School heavyweight wrestler Monike Failauga came to a halt, not knowing quite how to react.
Then it hit him — the referee was holding up a hand, making him a winner on Saturday at Mat Classic XXV in the Tacoma Dome.
Fife brought four wrestlers, advanced three to the championship finals — and it was Failauga who busted through for a state title, in the 285-pound weight class in Class 2A.
And it came in the oddest of ways. His opponent, Othello’s Bubba Ruiz, stopped wrestling and was called for a stall in overtime, handing a 3-2 decision to Failauga.
“If they’re not going to wrestle, make them wrestle,” Failauga said. “I’ll take it. A win is a win.”
Othello cruised to the team title in 2A. Granger did the same in 1A. Liberty Bell led from wire to wire in 1B/2B. And Warden, known for its domination in boys’ wrestling, took home the girls’ tournament title.
It was a night of disappointment for many locals, including two-time state champion Josh Crager of Cascade Christian. He was upended in the 1A 126 finals by Granger’s Adrian Guerrero, 2-1.
Trailing 1-0 with eight seconds remaining, Guerrero did a move that was more desperation and less technical savvy. He charged at Crager, somehow got around him in the corner of the mat and was awarded a takedown a split second before the match ended.
“It seemed for an eternity,” Guerrero said. “I did the work, did the push-ups, did the sweating … and that told me to keep pushing.”
Fife’s Glenn Robertson gave up valuable points at the end of the second period and lost to Klahowya’s Adam Burchett, 10-3, in the 2A finals at 120. Teammate Maverick Reddaway nearly did the unthinkable — upset a three-time state champion going for his fourth title. But he ended up losing, 3-1, to North Kitsap’s Jake Velarde in overtime in the 138 finals.
Meanwhile, Orting’s Fred Green is halfway to possibly giving his school the first pair of four-time state champions. Drew Templeman graduated last year as a four-timer and is now at the University of Wyoming.
Getting Othello’s Alec Espinoza stuck in a half nelson and rolling him over, Green registered a pin for the 2A title at 113.
“I stuck to the basics, nothing fancy,” Green said. “I am definitely one step closer to four (titles). And it was a big step.”
The area crowned six girls’ champions. The biggest grudge match came in the 118 class between Puyallup’s Jordyn Bartelson and Federal Way’s Bianca Arizpe.
The season series was tied at 2 – with Arizpe winning both at the sub-regional and regional tournaments. But Bartelson — the daughter of Puyallup coach Bryan Bartelson — turned the tide with a shocking pin in 3:09.
“In eighth grade I took second … and I cried for three days,” Bartelson said. “Dad kept saying it was a stepping stone.”
2a WINNER: Othello (1331/2 points).
1a WINNER: Granger (153 points).
1b/2b WINNER: Liberty Bell (112 points).
girls WINNER: Warden (1131/2 points).
2A LOCAL INDIVIDUAL CHAMPIONS: Fred Green, so., Orting (113); Jake Velarde, sr., North Kitsap (138); Kellen Pelzel, sr., Centralia (152); Jose Jimenez, sr., Tumwater (220); Monike Failauga, jr., Fife (285).
LOCAL girls INDIVIDUAL CHAMPIONS: Arian Carpio, so., Beamer (112); Jordyn Bartelson, fr., Puyallup (118); Luaipou Lologo, sr., Federal Way (155); Samantha Mitchell, sr., White River (170); Ryan Gibbons, so., Centralia (190); K.C. Moulden, so., Enumclaw (235).
RECAP: After a 3-1 overtime victory over Fife’s Maverick Reddaway in the 2A 138 finals, Velarde became the 11th wrestler to win four state titles. … Kingston’s Bobby Reece III won the 2A title at 160 (3-1 decision over Centralia’s Cole Riccardo), and will have a chance to be a four-timer next firstname.lastname@example.org