Jasen Baril says the Curtis Vikings are ahead of schedule.
The coach of the new-generation boys wrestling champions of the South Puget Sound League South Division had two goals when he took over four years ago — win a league title and place in the top 10 at Mat Classic, the state tournament in the Tacoma Dome.
The Vikings might be ready for something greater come next week.
Curtis swamped a field at the Class 4A Region I championships Saturday at Rogers High School that included no-slouch Lake Stevens, a longtime state powerhouse.
With seven regional finalists, including champions Jon Bridgman (182 pounds) and Calhoun Helmberger (220), and 11 wrestlers moving onto next week’s Mat Classic, Curtis totaled 203 points on Saturday, well ahead of Lake Stevens (167) and Puyallup (149 1/2).
“This is fantastic,” Baril said. “Nobody knows Curtis. They will now. We’ve only got four seniors on the team, so we have a lot of young guys coming up. We are super excited.”
Lake Stevens still crowned the most regional champions — three — which included three-time state champion Michael Soler, who will try to become the first Class 4A wrestler to win four Mat Classic crowns.
Soler got pushed into the third round in the 170-pound finals, but finally pinned Curtis’ Alex Stuart in 4 minutes, 26 seconds.
“I’ve been sick this week, so hopefully I feel better by next week,” Soler said. “It is fun. I beat a pretty good kid.”
Wrestling is a highly charged, emotional sport. It can hit teams. It can drain coaches. And it can certainly fire up brothers.
In this case, a strange sequence of events unfolded involving Bethel’s Dante and Phillip Springsteen.
Dante Springsteen was a heavy favorite in the 152-pound finals against Puyallup’s Spencer Hanson, whom he beat in last week’s SPSL South subregional meet.
With Springsteen up 3-2 early in the second period, the Bethel standout bent Hanson’s arm back on a move, and applied pressure on the Puyallup wrestler’s triceps with his head.
The move, while considered dangerous, is not usually deemed illegal without prior warning.
When Hanson dropped down to try to get out of the hold, he injured his left elbow.
The official immediately came in and called Springsteen for an illegal hold.
And when Hanson could not continue with his injury, Springsteen — a Tri-State champion — was disqualified.
Bethel coaches vehemently argued the ruling — so much so that a tournament committee of coaches met in the middle of the mat to discuss what happened. Ten minutes later, the decision was upheld, leaving the younger Springsteen infuriated.
“It is a judgment call. I know Spencer was legitimately hurt, and would have wrestled if he could,” Puyallup coach Aaron Lee said.
“I have a lot of respect for Springsteen. He is a fantastic wrestler. (His seeding) won’t make much of a difference at state because he is such a beast.”
Watching all of that unfold certainly got Phillip Springsteen’s heart rate up, too, just minutes before his 160-pound showdown with SPSL rival Ty Wilson of Rogers, the reigning state champion at 152.
The two had split close matches earlier in the season.
This one ended quickly.
“I tried not to be really angry about (my brother’s disqualification) because I did not want emotions playing into my match … and messing up my moves,” Phillip Springsteen said.
Springsteen went in immediately for a single-leg takedown, but instead “clubbed” Wilson’s head down and put him in a cradle on the mat.
It was over in 15 seconds.
“I didn’t think it would go like that,” Springsteen said.
With half of the championship matches decided by pins, Spanaway Lake’s Terrance Thomas instead had to grind out a 3-1 decision over Curtis’ Jay Roberts in the 195-pound finals.
Thomas became the Sentinels’ first regional champion since heavyweight Jason Marshall won in 2006.
“That is kind of cool,” Thomas said. “I didn’t know that. I’ve learned a lot about working hard from the guys before me.”
Half of the regional finals were rematches of the SPSL South subregional meet from last weekend. The only results that were different Saturday were Hanson defeating Dante Springsteen, and Rogers’ Kyle Kroneman (106) pinning Curtis’ Evan Janson in 1:15. … The SPSL South (37 wrestlers advanced to Mat Classic) nearly doubled the output of the Wesco (19) on Saturday.