Alex Stuart stepped up to the top of the podium inside Central Kitsap High School. As he was receiving his first-place medal, he looked at his coach.
“Job’s not done,” Stuart said with a smile. “Job’s not done.”
As gratifying as it was to be the 170-pound champion at the 40th annual Matman Classic wrestling tournament, and help Curtis High School win the team title with 215.5 points to second-place Moses Lake’s 145.5 points, this was by no means the end goal for Stuart.
Matman is nice. But he wants a Mat Classic title.
Stuart fell one point short of reaching the state 170-pound title match last year and he frequently reminds himself.
“Even on the mat I tell myself I don’t want to feel like that again,” Stuart said. “I use that as motivation. And I think that has really helped me come a long way on the mat.
“It feels good just keeping the tempo going, week after week. But the job is not done.”
All those hours spent in the wrestling room, all the late nights running before going to sleep and the extra work on Saturdays and Sundays — even when there wasn’t a practice — were so Stuart would be on top of a podium as a state wrestling champion.
He was leading, 7-2, against Moses Lake’s Hudson Mauseth in the Tacoma Dome last year when Mauseth finished with a 9-8 victory.
“I still think about that all of the time,” Stuart said. “Honestly, the first feeling was just ‘Wow, I’m speechless.’ I was like ‘Man, I really blew it. All that hard work was for nothing. I came here to win it.’ ”
He finished with a fifth-place medal after taking seventh as a sophomore.
But it only lit a fire in Stuart.
He’s since won titles at the Gut Check tournament and now at Matman, in Curtis’ first year competing in the event. Stuart — who is the No. 1-ranked 170-pound wrestler in the state, regardless of classification, by Washington Wrestling Report — beat South Kitsap’s Dalton Varney, 5-2, for the title.
Curtis coach Jasen Baril was asked if he’s saw an even more intense offseason from Stuart than in past years.
“Absolutely, absolutely, absolutely,” Barel said.
“He’s a leader. He put a lot of work in during the spring and the summer. A lot of work. And his main goal is to be on top of the podium at the end of the season, and he’s doing all of the right stuff.”
But it wasn’t just Stuart.
Freshman Maka Yacapin followed his Gut Check title with a 106-pound title at Matman. Ryan Wheeler, also a freshman, won the 113-pound title, and his older brother, Patrick Wheeler, a senior, pinned each of his three opponents, including Mt. Spokane’s Steven Hansen in the 126-pound title match.
Curtis’ Calhoun Helmberger (285), Luke Purcella (220), Jay Roberts (195) and Ketner Fields (160) all reached the Matman title match in their respective weights.
“We still got a couple of things we’ve got to work on and that’s why we came to this tournament,” Barel said.
“But this wasn’t a big deal for us. For us, it comes down to February. That’s our goal.”
North Central’s Bryan Wais, the defending 3A state 152-pound champion, earned the Outstanding Wrestler award for his 160-pound title win over Fields. Barel graduated from North Central before taking over at Curtis five years ago.
Enumclaw’s Quinton Southcott won the 138-pound title over North Central’s Gavin Gies. But, like Stuart, the sting of a loss last year in the 138-pound state semifinal match still lingers. He lost, 7-3, to eventual state champion Mason Phillips of Stanwood.
Southcott spoke Saturday like he had just finished a business trip. Not as if he’d won a Matman title.
“It was nice (to win),” Southcott said. “This is a tough tournament, and I hadn’t won here yet.”
South Kitsap finished third with 141.5 points, Mt. Spokane was fourth with 128 points and Lake Stevens took fifth with 125. South Kitsap’s Sebastian Robles won the 145-pound title over Graham-Kapowsin’s Chad Simonson.
40TH ANNUAL MATMAN CLASSIC
AT CENTRAL KITSAP HIGH SCHOOL
Team scores: Curtis 215.5, Moses Lake 145.5, South Kitsap 141.5, Mt. Spokane 128, Lake Stevens 125, North Central 117.5, Auburn Riverside 79, Graham-Kapowsin 68, Peninsula 65, Enumclaw 59.5, Olympic 33.5, Todd Beamer 27, Bremerton 26, Central Kitsap 24, Snohomish 19, Shelton 6.
106: Maka Yacapin (Curtis) tech fall Jacob Bennett (Lake Stevens) 18-3
113: Ryan Wheeler (Curtis) inj. def. Yusef Nelson (Auburn Riverside)
120: Blake Haney (Mt. Spokane) maj. dec. Devin Gentz (South Kitsap) 15-5
126: Patrick Wheeler (Curtis) p. Steven Hansen (Mt. Spokane) 0:46
132: Clai Quintanilla (North Central) dec. Nick Hara (Moses Lake) 5-0
138: Quinton Southcott (Enumclaw) dec. Gavin Gies (North Central) 6-2
145: Sebastian Robles (South Kitsap) p. Chad Simonson (Graham-Kapowsin) 5:52
152: Hunter Cruz (Moses Lake) dec. Davon Keyes (South Kitsap) 5-1
160: Bryan Wais (North Central) dec. Ketner Fields (Curtis) 9-4
170: Alex Stuart (Curtis) dec. Dalton Varney (South Kitsap) 5-1
182: Malachi Lawrence (Lake Stevens) p. Daiman Vasquez (Moses Lake) 1:59
195: Mason Miethe (Mt. Spokane) dec. Jay Roberts (Curtis) 3-2
220: Payton Castro (Moses Lake) dec. Luke Purcella (Curtis) 8-4
285: Chandler Fluaitt (Moses Lake) dec. Calhoun Helmberger (Curtis) 5-2