Alex Cruz has three state wrestling titles in three years.
And now his wrestling future is secure.
Tucked away in the South Sound in a town with less than 8,000 people a wrestling powerhouse has formed. Cruz, who is ranked No. 8 in the nation for his weight class, announced that he has verbally committed to continue his wrestling career next year at the University of Virginia, choosing the Cavaliers’ program over NC State. And he’ll join his former Orting teammate Fred Green there.
He hopes to also join Fred Green as a four-time state champion.
“It’s like we’re Virgnia’s feeder program now,” Orting coach Jody Coleman said.
Cruz visited Virginia and NC State after being offered scholarships by both last week. He was selected to The News Tribune’s All-Area wrestling team last year on his way to the state title and hopes to become the third Orting wrestler in school history to win four state titles if he can win one this year — no other school in the state has more than one four-time champion.
“I just think it’s an amazing opportunity,” Cruz said. “It’s far away from home, but it’s a good opportunity for me to go there and put my name out there as a wrestler.
He said he chose Virginia because of what he could do there outside of the wrestling room. He hopes to study business.
“The whole recruiting process, it’s pretty stressful on the kids,” Coleman said. “You start getting these phone calls and it’s hard to tell. It was a hard decision for him.”
Cruz is coming off a trip to Fargo, North Dakota, for the Fargo Nationals — the premier offseason wrestling tournament in the country. Cruz became the first Orting wrestler to ever reach the finals, beating Tyler Deen of Clovis, California, 8-7 in the semifinals of the 132-pound weight class. He lost, 10-0, in the championship against Atilano Escobar of Peoria, Arizona.
Escobar is ranked as No. 6 wrestler in the nation for the 132-pound class by FloWrestling.com, two spots ahead of Cruz.
“When Alex came to us as a ninth grader, he was really good on his feet and he’s really evolved as a wrestler in the last three years,” Coleman said. “His bottom work is solid. I’d be surprised if there is a high school kid who can hold him down.”
Orting’s first four-time state champion, Taylor Templeman, just graduated from the University of Wyoming, where Hunter Mullins, Orting’s former nationally-ranked wrestler, is.
“I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for my family and my coaches and my wrestling partner (fellow three-time state champion Brandon Kaylor of Bonney Lake),” Cruz said. “They are all constantly pushing me in the room to get me better.”
AUBURN RIVERSIDE’s PRESCOTT COMMITS
Auburn Riverside’s wide receiver and cornerback Isaiah Prescott announced on Twitter that he has verbally committed to play at Air Force next year.
Prescott, who is 5-foot-10, 165 pounds, was a first-team all-4A NPSL Olympic selection last year as a wide receiver. He led the Ravens with 15 catches for 258 yards during the regular season last year before Auburn Riverside lost to Monroe in the district playoffs. The Ravens are off to a 3-0 start this year.
TJ Cotterill: 253-597-8677