In high school wrestling, late January traditionally means the end of invitational tournaments, a final chance to get fresh before the three-week postseason run begins. Three traditional powers took an alternative method to state preparation this season.
Orting, Yelm and Lake Stevens convened at Orting High School Friday night for a double dual meet featuring over 20 wrestlers with state tournament experience — including five reigning state champions. All three schools figure to be among the favorites for team championships in their respective classifications when Mat Classic XXVII takes over the Tacoma Dome Feb. 20-21.
Dominating the upper weights in both duals, Lake Stevens swept Orting (37-30) and Yelm (42-24). The Tornadoes and Cardinals tied at 31 in their dual, but Orting won due to tiebreaking criteria.
The stiffest individual competition came at 132 pounds with three 2014 state champs in action — Orting’s Ben Gore, Yelm’s Darren Harris and Lake Stevens’ Michael Soler.
Two-time champs Harris and Soler squared off first. Harris led 4-1 in the third round before a Soler escape brought both wrestlers to their feet with 45 seconds left. Soler gained control of Harris’ leg late in the match, but Harris was able to deny Soler points en route to a 4-2 win.
Harris earned a sweep of the three-way challenge with a 7-2 win over Gore. Leading 2-0 and starting on top in the second round, Harris dominated the middle frame, putting Gore on the verge of being pinned in a cradle position for the final half of the round for a three-point near fall.
Earlier, Gore dropped a 5-4 decision to Soler. Exchanging takedowns and escapes, Soler and Gore found themselves even at 3-all after the first two rounds. Starting the final round on the bottom, Soler scored a reversal 15 seconds into the final period and was able to hold after a Gore escape with 12 seconds left, for a 5-4 decision.
Lake Stevens’ Cody Vigoren, the 2014 4A state champ at 195 pounds, was efficient in his two wins — both first-round pins in under a minute.
Orting’s three-time state champion Fred Green started his evening with a 8-0 shutout of Lake Stevens’ Tristan Perales and closed it with a first-round pin of Yelm’s Tanner Page.