Nothing is ever a given at Mat Classic.
Not for any defending state high school wrestling champion. Although 35 Mat Classic winners from 2014 are still alive for another state title in this tournament — including all eight of The News Tribune’s “Untouchables” — one notable name is not: Sunnyside’s Jesse Torres, the reigning 113-pound champion from Class 3A. He was pinned in his opening match.
And not for any school trying to defend its team title. Just ask Lake Stevens, who is in a dogfight with tournament-leading Moses Lake in the Class 4A team chase.
It was a day of suspenseful close calls, controversial rulings and celebrated last-second wins Friday during the Mat Classic 27 at the Tacoma Dome.
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Action resumes Saturday at 10 a.m. with semifinal matches. The championship finals are scheduled to start at 5 p.m.
All eyes will be on a pair of wrestlers as they pursue the magical feat of trying to win four Washington state titles. Orting’s Fred Green (2A, 138) and Centralia’s Ryan Gibbons (girls, 235) had no issues reaching the semifinals.
Green, a Boise State signee, recorded two pins, including one in 5 minutes, 54 seconds over Blaine’s Riley Fritsch in the 2A quarterfinals.
Unlike some of his predecessors vying for a four-peat who were jittery before the start of their final tournament, Green seems calm and collected.
“It is hard for me to get my adrenaline going, to be honest,” Green said. “I almost feel too comfortable here. Under these (Tacoma Dome) lights, this is my fourth year. I am going into my 15th match here. So I am feeling good.”
A few other defending champions had far more nervous moments:
• Yelm High School’s Darren Harris, who is vying to become Thurston County’s first three-time state champion since Black Hills’ Jimmy Belleville won four in a row from 2006-09, had a bit of a scare in his Class 4A quarterfinal showdown with Todd Beamer’s Jordan Rhodes at 126.
Midway through the second round, Rhodes got a hold of Harris’ left arm and bent it far back. The Yelm standout let out a scream, then immediately clutched his shoulder in pain when the action was stopped.
Harris continued on, but it wasn’t until the final period when he pulled away for a 10-3 victory.
“A lot of it was I am exhausted and a little dehydrated,” Harris said. “I have not been drinking water today. I am not feeling very strong.”
• Decatur’s Isaiah Diggs got a second-period escape point against Bethel’s Dante Springsteen, and made that stand up in a 1-0 triumph in the 152 quarterfinals in 4A.
“That kid scared me — he will win a state title someday,” Diggs said. “But you have to wrestle the same (in close matches), no matter what the circumstances are. Anything can happen at any moment.”
• Pasco’s Timmy Martinez and Lake Stevens’ Michael Soler, a pair of two-time state champions, are on a collision course in the 132 bracket of 4A.
Both nearly got upended in close-call quarterfinal matches. Martinez held off Decatur’s Leviticus Aripze, 4-3. Soler escaped South Kitsap’s Brandon Forster, 2-1.
An interesting situation is brewing at Rogers High School where twin brothers Troy and Ty Wilson are still alive in the championship bracket.
Both experienced a little “twin telepathy” during their respective 4A quarterfinal matches — ones that Troy, who won by pin over Central Valley’s Braedon Orrino at 145, and Ty, who won a 7-6 decision over Heritage’s Marcus Hendrickson at 152, ended up winning after both were put on their backs.
“Our mom probably won’t be getting much sleep tonight,” Troy said.
“I will,” Ty added, “because I am tired.”
Even-keeled B.J. Hawthorne watched as Lincoln teammate Jeremy Lukosh suffered through one of the more bizarre losses you are going to find in the state championships, then stamped his own ticket into the 3A semifinals.
Hawthorne breezed by Eastside Catholic’s Conner Heger, 3-0, in the 220 quarterfinals.
“I was just trying to get into the semifinals again,” Hawthorne said. “But I will try not to lose this time.”
Just minutes before, Lukosh was disqualified for throwing his headgear in a 195 quarterfinal against Shadle Park’s Ryan Burnett after learning he was not awarded tying takedown points in the final seconds.
Then there was the stellar showing by the 3A SPSL. Six of its schools — Enumclaw (four semifinalists), Bonney Lake (three), Peninsula (three), Lakes (two), Auburn Mountainview (two) and Auburn (two) — sent multiple wrestlers on to the final four.