The lights are turned off and a motivational mix with quotes from movies “Coach Carter,” “Rocky,” and “The Pursuit of Happyness” among others blasts from a speaker inside the wrestling room at Orting High School.
Fred Green jogs alongside his teammates. The large banner above the bleachers with “4X Champs” written along the bottom is barely visible in the darkness, but Green doesn’t need to see it.
“I visualize everything that it took to get myself to this point, how hard I worked, how hard I need to push myself to get to where I want to go,” he said.
Four state championships. It’s a goal that Green once viewed as unfathomable but can become reality at Mat Classic this weekend at the Tacoma Dome.
He said he loses sleep thinking about it. Green set a countdown timer on his phone the day after winning the Class 2A 126-pound state title last year that will go off Saturday afternoon – the time he hopes to be gearing for title No. 4.
“I’m the type of person, every paper I write it says ‘Fred 4X Green,’ ” said Green, who has been named one of The News Tribune’s Untouchables for the third year in a row. “Every single worksheet, every note I take in class – just to remind myself that the ultimate goal is always there.”
Green, a Boise State signee, would be the 12th boys wrestler in Washington Interscholastic Activities Association history to win four state titles and the 13th overall. R.A. Long’s Pat Connors was the first four-time champ in 1994.
But as a tribute to Orting’s wrestling legacy (the school has won four state team titles), Green can make it the first school to have two four-time individual champs after Drew Templeman completed it Green’s freshman year.
The end of one Orting legend. The start of another.
“Fred had whatever ‘It’ is right from the start,” Orting coach Jody Coleman said. “And he’s just a great kid. He’s not an egomaniac, he doesn’t think of himself as better, he’s really great to all the kids.
“Even in school, he’s ASB president, he’s a good student – just an all-around great kid.”
THE DEAD GIVEAWAY
Frederick Andrew Green Jr. moved from upstate New York to Washington when he was 19 and had Frederick James Green a few years after. The latter Green is actually Fred Green IX.
There are nine consecutive Fred Greens in the family, though the middle names have differed over the generations.
The youngest Fred Green began wrestling in the first grade. But not after a few test runs in other sports – bowling, tumbling and speed skating, among other sports.
Bowling? Not competitive enough.
Tumbling? They wouldn’t let him go on the trampoline.
“And I got mad because I didn’t want to keep doing the forward rolls for the next month,” Green said.
How about that speed skating?
“I got in trouble for throwing elbows and being aggressive,” he said. “That was a dead giveaway.”
A giveaway that wrestling might stick. All these sports really started as an outlet for Green’s attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, he said.
“To be honest, I was quite the brat as a kid because I had all this energy and nothing to do with it,” Green said. “My dad would set the microwave timer to 5 minutes and see if I could jump up and down and beat the timer.
“Our house layout was circular, so he would grab my ankles and see how many wheelbarrow laps I could do around the house. I had all the energy and I was competitive. I had to beat my last score, my last time.”
The living room carpet – a hotbed for rug burns – became their wrestling ring. They’d watch his film on the television and practice moves right there in front of it. Wrestling became their year-round sport from then on.
CRYING FOR JOY
When Green edged Victor Almaguer of Granger for the Class 1A 106-pound title his freshman year, he couldn’t contain himself.
The first thing Green did was run and give his coach a hug. Then he found Templeman – who would go on to win his fourth career state title about 25 minutes later – and hugged him.
“It was the first time I’ve cried out of joy,” Green said. “It was just so overwhelming. I didn’t know what to do or think. … It gives me chills, even right now, just thinking about it.”
And that’s when the dream started. If he could win the title as a freshman, how much easier would it be as a sophomore, a junior and a senior?
His second title, the Class 2A 113-pound title in which he pinned Othello’s Alec Espinoza in 2:57, he barely blinked.
“It was like a Tuesday,” Green said. “It’s not Monday – the first day of the week. It’s not a Friday going out with a bang. It was a stepping stone.
“But that day of state my freshman year, that’s when it started to become a vision that I could actually make something that was once unfathomable a real goal for myself.”
His dad, though? Not as composed.
“The photography guy gets a picture of him crying every year,” Green said. “I like to post it on Instagram on Father’s Day, saying, ‘Happy Father’s Day big, tough guy.’”
Rock the cradle
But Green wasn’t exactly unbeatable his first two years.
His weakness was the cradle. And he knew it. Every coach he approached about how to counter it told him the same thing: Pull your head away from your knee and keep your head up.
But as soon as wrestlers try to break the cradle, it provides the perfect moment to knock them off their balance and onto their hips.
Boise State wrestling assistant coach Kirk White, a Curtis graduate and former Fife coach, taught Green differently at a camp his junior year.
Instead of breaking the cradle, Green said he was taught to put his head to his knee, sit and build a solid base. Keeping balance is the priority.
“Really, it’s his flexibility and how good he is in a scramble that are his best strengths,” White said. “He kind of reminds me of a John Smith (two-time Olympic champion). I don’t know how often people see this, but (Green) can put his butt straight on the ground when he’s in the referee’s position. Not that he does it all the time. But he’s just real rubbery.”
Green was cradled by Central Valley state champion Blake Beard twice in a match this season. Green turned it into takedowns both times.
“Kirk has some quirky stuff that I’ve only ever seen him do, but he came and showed this stuff to our campers and Fred just soaked it up,” Coleman said. “It’s funny – when kids do cradle him, he doesn’t even worry. Anybody else would freak out.”
But all his training – all those 3 1/2-mile runs at 4:45 in the morning — and preparation comes down to this weekend. He’ll enjoy playing mayor, being a celebrity, shaking hands and soaking in the bright Tacoma Dome lights one last time.
But he’ll stick to routine — doing sprints mat side, getting out of the noise and laying down in the team trailer, munching of food.
“Even though in the offseason I’m nonstop thinking about state, thinking about the matches, whenever you are there you just want to get your mind off of things,” Green said.
“I’ve wrestled to the best of my abilities, I’ve trained harder than I’ve trained the past three years, saying ‘Hey, I’m going out with a bang.’ ”