Giving up almost 60 pounds to most of his opponents, Puyallup High School senior Trent Nivala can’t rely solely on his brute strength to help him win every match.
He must make wise decisions on the mat.
Nivala, who weighs 225 pounds but wrestles in the 285-pound class, entered the postseason with a bang Saturday at the 4A SPSL South subdistrict regional wrestling tournament at Curtis High School.
Nivala defeated Noah Howell of Rogers, 9-3, in the 285-pound championship match and improved to 30-6 this season.
“I just tried to come out really aggressively against him in that first round,” said Nivala, ranked fifth among the state’s Class 4A wrestlers at 285. “That put me up enough that I could kind of ride out the rest of the match.”
After placing fourth last year at Mat Classic, Nivala is on the right path for a run at a state title.
“For me, it’s all mental, mainly,” he said. “I’m strong enough to hang with these guys, (but) it’s about wrestling a smart match. That’s how I need to win these matches against these huge guys. ... They’re gigantic.”
At 170 pounds, Bethel senior Brian Woolery, ranked 12th in 4A, pinned Emerald Ridge junior Josiah Arnold in the championship match. After falling behind early, Woolery regrouped and got the pin.
Woolery was one of four champions who helped the Braves capture the team title with 268.0 points. Rogers (254.5), Todd Beamer (234.5), Puyallup (220) and Graham-Kapowsin (195.5) rounded out the top five.
“I had nerves going through me, I guess,” he said. “When he first got the takedown, I first had to stop and tell myself to calm down and wrestle smart, and I ended up pulling through and pinning him.”
Woolery struggled with overlooking certain matches last season, he said.
He has worked hard this season to change his ways.
“It was one of those growing years where I messed up,” Woolery said. “I definitely learned last year to not overlook any matches (this year). That happened to me last year, and I ended up losing. I knew coming in I can’t overlook anything.”
Woolery (26-7) is prepared to navigate the tough road to his first appearance at Mat Classic later this month in Tacoma.
“It’s a tough region, but I’m ready for it,” he said.
In the 220-pound class, Puyallup senior Matt Voss, top-ranked in 4A, pinned Federal Way’s Andrzej Hughes-Murray.