If Logan Pine wasn’t already having a nightmarish time at Mat Classic XXVII last February, it was about to get a lot worse.
Then an Olympia High School junior wrestling at 138 pounds, Pine was knocked out of championship contention when Jake Douglas of Lake Stevens edged him, 4-3, in the second round.
“I would have been happy making it to the finals and placing first,” said Pine, a two-time Class 4A state placer who took sixth his freshman year at 132 pounds and fifth his sophomore year at 138.
“Anything other than that was a disappointment to me.”
That was before he was knocked out — literally.
“I did not want to be in that match,” Pine said. “I didn’t want to be in the (Tacoma) Dome at that point.”
In his final match — a consolation against Graham-Kapowsin’s Gavin Eaglin — Pine was trailing 6-2 entering the third round.
“I grabbed a rush to get head position and he swung his head,” Pine said. “We were both swinging our heads pretty hard. The crown of his head came and hit me right in the eye.”
But Pine — who elected not to play football after starting for Olympia the last two years — didn’t think much of the collision.
“In football, I would always get my bell rung because I talked the most smack — I’m the smallest guy on the field, I have to,” Pine said. “So it just felt like that.”
When the referee called a timeout for blood, Pine thought Eaglin was the one injured.
“I look at his feet, there’s no blood; I look at his face, there’s no blood,” Pine said. “There’s just one big bash mark. It looked like he got a paintball shot at his head. So, I’m thinking, ‘Man, where’s that cut?’ ”
It was when Pine started stumbling backwards that he found the source.
“I looked down and there’s a straight faucet of blood coming from my eye,” he said. “I tried covering it up and going back to the circle and wrestle. Everyone’s just like, ‘Lay down.’ So, I tried laying down slowly, and just, boom. Out.”
Pine left the Tacoma Dome with a head injury, and without a third consecutive state placing.
His worst state experience?
“I’d say so,” Pine said.
He’s all but erased the blurry memory, though the scar above his right eye where he had 20 stitches is still visible.
“I feel like God’s helped me with that a lot,” Pine said. “A lot of people are like, ‘Oh, I messed up big time. I’m not going to be able to do anything, it’s all my fault.’ But, you know what? It doesn’t matter. God has a plan, he’ll carry you through it. Whatever happens, it’s part of his road.”
For Pine, now in the 145-pound weight class, the road back to wrestling included a break — the first he said he’s taken since the eighth grade.
“I felt like I was burnt out,” the senior said. “I had high expectations my junior year, but I feel like I peaked too early.”
After tearing his labrum at the USAW Junior National Duals in June, Pine spent most of the summer fishing.
Sometimes on the Skokomish River, sometimes on the Nisqually, sometimes on the Satsop, Pine said he took his 9-foot-6 Lamiglas rod out nearly every other day.
“I tore the rivers up,” Pine said. “I was fishing and lifting … but fishing more.”
The leisure seems to have rejuvenated Pine.
This season he’s changed his routine to include early morning runs and lifting outside of practice.
Layn Pannkuk, a junior who wrestles at 138 pounds and frequently trains with Pine, said his mindset has shifted this season.
“He’s picked up his pace, his intensity, his work ethic,” Pannkuk said. “Everything’s changed about him. He’s doing a lot better this year.”
Olympia coach Greg Hargrave said he is focused on helping Pine peak at the right time this season. Pine was 47-1 heading into the 2015 state tournament. He lost an early match this season at the Centralia Tiger Holiday Classic on Dec. 12 to Battle Ground’s Jake Rogers, a freestyle wrestling national champion.
“The goal of trying to be undefeated the whole entire season — the pressure’s off the table,” Hargrave said. “Now he can basically concentrate on himself. Everything’s practice until the Tacoma Dome.
“I think he’s on the right path.”
Pine — who is considering the University of Nebraska at Kearney, New Mexico Highlands and California Baptist to continue his wrestling career — said “everything” is on the line for his final season.
“It’s for me,” he said. “I can prove it to myself that I’m not just average.”