Let the nail-biting begin.
Mat Classic is setting up to come down to the final match in some of these team races, particularly in the tight Class 4A competition among defending state champion Tahoma, 11-time state champion Lake Stevens, talented South Kitsap and Greater Spokane League powerhouse Mead.
And, as many thought, defending 3A champion Bonney Lake and Mount Spokane head that classification’s race, but don’t forget about Kelso or Kamiakin.
With seven wrestlers in the 2A semifinals. White River has the most upside to make a big splash Saturday morning.
Then there is the pursuit of individual greatness. Bonney Lake’s Brandon Kaylor (3A at 120 pounds) and Orting’s Alex Cruz (2A at 138) on the boys’ side, and Davis’ Cameron Guerin (girls at 125) are halfway home to becoming the next crop of four-time state champions.
One other local was in the mix coming into Friday — Lakes’ Flor “Jasmine” Parker-Borrero at girls 145 — but she bowed out of the tournament through an injury default.
If Tahoma is going to repeat in 4A, it might have to rely on two things: Brothers and back points.
Two of the three Bears that reached the semifinals are Steele (126) and Gunner Starren (152). Reigning state champion Kione Gill is the other one at 220.
It is a tale of perserverence for Gunner, a senior who had not placed at the state tournament before. Steele, a ninth grader, is in his first Mat Classic.
“I won’t hold it against him,” Gunner said with a sly smile. “It is what it is.”
If it weren’t for one monumental upset loss, South Kitsap could boast a near-perfect first two sessions, sending a tournament-best six wrestlers into the semifinals. Two of them are its own set of siblings, Xavier (106) and Mason Eaglin (170).
But top-ranked Sebastian Robles suffering an 11-6 defeat to Mead’s Cameron Crawford not only shook up the 152 bracket, but also the entire tournament.
“We wrestled well,” Wolves coach Chad Nass said, “but you always want to be greedy, as a coach.”
Led by Kaylor, the Panthers are in good shape with five 3A semifinalists.
“That is what I expected,” Bonney Lake coach Dan Pitsch said. “We are sitting good. We are still close enough that we can catch whoever is in front of us.”
The Hornets are in even better shape in 2A, and coach Tim Kitchen thinks if his squad wrestles well Saturday morning, it could create a wide gap between itself and the other contenders.
“We’ve got a lot of kids still alive,” Kitchen said. “Tomorrow morning is when the race can be won. If we put seven in the finals, there is no one who can run with us.”
On the brink of four-peating, Kaylor and Cruz, longtime pals, know Saturday night might be emotional — especially with their fathers in the corner.
“To see his oldest son achieve something he’s seen as his goal throughout his whole life, and getting ready for college, is something big in our family,” Cruz said.
Guerin spent a grand total of 3 minutes, 33 seconds on the mat in her two matches —including a pin of Graham-Kapowsin’s Gail Valencia in 1:53 in the girls 125 quarterfinals.
“The first couple of matches, I rushed a little bit,” Guerin said. “I was antsy. I just need to relax.”
As for Parker-Borrero, she arrived at the Tacoma Dome on Saturday morning, and made weight at 145.
With a couple hours to go before the tournament started, she took off. Nobody heard from her again for hours.
“She left, and never came back,” Lakes girls coach Trisha Pak said.