If the Class 4A South Puget Sound League boys wrestling tournament at Emerald Ridge High School is any indicator, teams heading to Mat Classic on Friday and Saturday will have to watch out for the Tahoma Bears at the Tacoma Dome.
With seven finalists, the Bears ran away with the team title, scoring 206.5 points to set themselves up nicely for next weekend’s state tournament.
Todd Beamer (125 points) finished in second place, while Rogers (115) took home third.
Truth be told, these Bears don’t play nice.
“We don’t share well,” Tahoma coach Chris Feist said.
“Our goal is not to win league, tournaments or even matches. … Our goal is to win every second of a 300-second match because all it takes is a second to lose one.”
Of Tahoma’s seven finalists, Feist pointed out Nick Whitehead, a 113-pound freshman, as the most impressive of his bunch.
That’s saying something because Cruz Velasquez (126 pounds), who finished third at state last year, won his third straight final at the SPSL tournament.
Whitehead won with his 25th pin of the season, tied with Justin Weiding (145 pounds) for the team high.
Whitehead pinned Brett Dykman of Todd Beamer in 2 minutes, 36 seconds.
“Coach has been pushing (Seahawks quarterback) Russell Wilson’s words, ‘Why not us?’ ” Whitehead said. “I was thinking, ‘Why not me?’ …
“As a freshman, I feel I can take (state).”
Nick’s brother Tim finished second last year at the Tacoma Dome while the Bears finished second in the team standings.
Puyallup has a dominant trio entering the Tacoma Dome, led by Matt Voss, a state champion last year. He’s ranked No. 1 among the state’s 4A wrestlers at 220 pounds.
“(Matt’s) one of the most athletic 220-pounders I’ve seen,” Vikings coach Aaron Lee said. “He’s a natural out there.”
Lee said it does not bode well for opponents to make Voss mad on the mat.
During his first-round win over Kentwood’s Kyler Capperauld, Voss was taken down to the mat for the first time all season.
That was all the motivation Voss needed the rest of the tournament.
“I don’t like being taken down during practice against my team. … It doesn’t anger me really. It motivates me,” Voss said after his finals win.
Voss pinned Andrzej Hughes-Murray of Federal Way at 1:04, improving his career record to 111-5.
“He’s one of the most calmest and composed kids you’ll meet … real level-headed,” Lee said of Voss. “He hasn’t been taken down to the mat in a while so getting him mad just motivates him more.”
Not to be outdone, Voss’ teammates, Joseph Meyers (195 pounds) and Trent Nivala (285) won their weight classes, completing the regional trifecta for the Vikings.
Meyers pinned Todd Beamer’s KJ Skannel in 60 seconds, and Nivala defeated Kentridge’s Daniel Vi, 3-1.
“Sam Lindsay of Auburn was my only loss this season,” Meyers said. “I had a fire in my (butt) ever since then … so I just had the mentality to never be satisfied. The motivation is I just want to be better.”
Said Lee of Meyers: “Last year he was all strength out there on the mat. This year he’s moving and using skill. He really turned the page, and it’s something to watch out there.”
Meyers is looking to experience what only Voss knows about — jubilation on the winners’ stage.
“He usually has a close match with (Skannel) … It was awesome; it’s good that he got that pin,” Voss said.
“All it shows is that we’re all improving right before we get to the state tournament, which is the best time to do that.”kevin.manning@ thenewstribune.com