Only members of the South Puget Sound League were invited.
Yet the finals of Saturday’s All-SPSL Tournament read mostly like a who’s-who of returning state high school boys wrestling medalists. There were six returning state champions — with two pitted against each other in the 113-pound finals — and one nationally ranked.
With all those big dogs, and 27 SPSL team participating, it was 2A Orting High School in first place at the end of the day with 226 points to second-place Curtis’ 169.
It didn’t hurt that Orting had three of those defending champs (Alex Cruz, Ben Gore and Hunter Mullins) including the nationally ranked one (Mullins).
“This just reinforces what we tell them all of the time — you can compete with anyone, you’ve put in the work,” Orting coach Jody Coleman said. “And they have 100 percent bought in.”
Cruz (a sophomore who last year won the 2A 106-pound state champ) took Saturday’s 120 finals; Gore, who won the 2A 120-pound state champ in 2013, took the 145 title, and Mullins won the 285 finals.
Mullins won his semifinal match, 2-1, earlier Saturday over Rogers’ Noah Howell before cruising to an 11-2 win in the title match against Auburn Mountainview’s Antonio Corea.
“It’s pretty special,” said Mullins, who is ranked 10th in the nation in the 285-pound weight class by FloWrestling. “Everyone is always like, ‘You guys are 2A, you can’t compete with 4A schools.’ No — just because we’re 2A doesn’t mean we’re not tough.”
Two matches pitted Wilson brothers against Springsteen brothers, White River’s freshman knocked off a reigning 3A runner-up and an Oregon State football commit (Federal Way’s Andrzej Hughes-Murray) ignited the crowd with a finals pin.
But no match was more anticipated than the 113-pound finals.
Kentridge’s Derek Freitag won the 4A 106-pound state title last year. Bonney Lake’s Brandon Kaylor won the 3A 106-pound state title.
They both reached Saturday’s 113-pound finals, with Freitag escaping with a 1-0 victory.
“We were both trying to figure out which person would make the mistake first and I think that was the entire match,” Freitag said. “It feels good because I’ve heard people say that, ‘Oh, because we’re not in the same (classification), he could beat me, or vice versa.’ It feels good to actually know now how that would go down.”
Decatur’s Leviticus Arizpe found himself against White River phenom freshman Nathan Moore in the 138 finals. Moore had pinned Enumclaw’s Jake Treece — who last year took second to former teammate Hunter Haney in the 3A state 126-pound championship — in the semifinals.
Arizpe scrambled in the second round to pin Moore in 2 minutes, 38 seconds — after pinning both his semifinal and quarterfinal opponents before.
“I just knew he was going to come out hard and come out shooting and try to get my head and arm,” said Arizpe, who placed third in the 4A 132-pound state bracket. “I was just really excited (for the pin) because I just kept hearing my voice and my coach’s voice in my head saying, ‘Calm down, calm down, you’re going to get your time, you’re going to get your moment and when you do you’re going to have it.’ So when I got it, it I was just really excited about it.”
Rogers’ Troy Wilson beat Bethel’s Dante Springsteen, 5-1, in the 152 finals and his twin brother Ty Wilson won 4-2 after trading reversals late with Phillip Springsteen — Dante’s older brother — in the 160 finals.
The twin said they have been wrestling each other since they were much younger.
It certainly made for a happy Wilson household.
“My mom is ecstatic,” said Troy Wilson, who last year placed second in the 3A state 145 finals. “She basically wrestles for us in the stands. … My dad, this is his sport and he’s the one who basically started us in wrestling, so he’s super proud of us.
“The entire house is beaming when we both win,” said Ty Wilson, a defending 4A state 152-pound champion.
Dante Springsteen beat Troy Wilson in a tournament earlier this year, but he competed in Saturday’s finals after dislocating his finger in Friday’s quarterfinals.
“I’m planning on seeing him about five more times this year,” Dante Springsteen said. “I’m going to get him back.”
Federal Way’s Hughes-Murray was the only other SPSL champ to pin his finals opponent, pinning Orting’s Erik Jacobson in 2:36.
White River’s Max Wheeler won the 106 finals, Enumclaw’s Kyle Opland won in 126, Sumner’s Tucker Wooding took the 132 finals, Curtis’ Alex Stuart won at 170, Sumner’s Josiah Schliesman won at 182 and Peninsula’s Chance Stolz won at 195.