Maybe the elite of Eastern Washington high school wrestling are on to something.
Wait for the biggest, and possibly craziest Mat Classic to come to town, and sweep the state’s top competition aside.
For the first time since the boys tournaments split into five classifications, the state-championship team winners all came from the east — Chiawana (Class 4A), Mount Spokane (3A), Toppenish (2A), Colville (1A) and Tonasket (2B/1B).
The Union girls won the only team title for the west side, clinching the school’s first crown.
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As far as the state’s top individual wrestlers, all eight of The News Tribune’s 2019 “Untouchables” — Granger’s Frankie Almaguer (152 pounds in 1A), Colville’s Trent Baun (132 in 1A), Bonney Lake’s Brenden Chaowanapibool (120 in 3A), Mount Spokane’s Blake Haney (138 in 3A), Yelm’s Derrick Platt (195 in 3A), Curtis’ Aizayah “Maka” Yacapin (126 in 4A) and the Toppenish pair of Andres Aguilera (170 in 2A) and Haiden Drury (126) — won Mat Classic XXI titles Saturday night at the Tacoma Dome.
Baun became the state’s 20th four-time champion when he defeated Sultan’s Aiden Fleming, 3-1, in the 132 finals.
One thing was clear in 4A after Saturday night — it might be a few years before another team ends a string of Chiawana titles.
Scoring 227 points, the underclassmen-heavy Riverhawks wrestled a near-perfect tournament. They sent five wrestlers to the finals, and crowned three champions in Darion Johnson (120), Tyson Stover (182) and Isaiah Anderson (190).
Johnson and Anderson are freshmen.
“We knew this year coming, it would be the hardest for us to win (our first 4A title),” Chiawana coach Jack Anderson said. “But, we think we can repeat, because we have studs that will be around for a few years.”
Curtis was the 4A runner-up (152 points) for the second time in three seasons, matching the Riverhawks with three Mat Classic champions — two-time winner Yacapin, a Stanford commit, Ryan Wheeler (145) and Adrian St. Germain (152).
“If you only knew the craziness of our season,” Vikings first-year coach Shawn Gaspaire said. “And for them to rise in the last moment from this chaos and be so smart, and do what they do, it is a testament … to how much hard work they’ve done.”
Yacapin outlasted Tahoma’s Austin Michaski in a triple-overtime thriller in the semifinals to earn a championship showdown with Sunnyside’s Andrew Macias.
And he scored the decisive takedown with 55 seconds to go to win arguably the toughest bracket in the tournament — all on a bum right knee.
“This year, I really learned to love wrestling,” Yacapin said.
Last season, Toppenish felt it had enough to win three 2A titles in a row, only to be outdone by a high-powered White River squad.
A year later, the Wildcats returned the favor in a big way. Their standouts won six 2A titles, led by Drury, a two-time champion (a 6-0 winner over East Valley of Spokane’s Avery Sundheim), and Aguilera, a three-time champion (a 1-0 winner over White River’s Jack Ervien).
“Any time you think you have enough and you don’t win, it always stings,” Toppenish coach Johnny Cerna said. “We got back to the hotel that night after taking third (last year), and we talked about going to work. That work paid off.”
The Hornets scored more points this year (259) than last season’s Mat Classic-winning squad (221), and had four winners Saturday — Nate Belcourt (113), Gabe Hawthorne (138), Weston Lyver (152) and Nathan Moore (160), who became the school’s first three-time state champion.
“Toppenish has got some horses … just like we do,” Hornets coach Ruben Navejas said. “They just had a few more of them this year.”
Behind Josh Walker’s second title at 170, Bethel (154 points) placed a school-best second in the 3A race behind defending champion Mount Spokane (235). Walker became the Braves’ first multiple title winner since 1982.
The White River girls also finished second behind Union, but got a state title from Payton Stroud. She edged North Kitsap’s Holly Beaudoin, 4-2, in the 120 finals.
Last year, she lost to Bellingham’s Lynette Samano at 120 after beating her three times during the season.
“I really, really wanted it,” Stroud said. “I felt smarter about it, too.”