With state medals already in their possession, five Grays Harbor wrestlers will return to the Tacoma Dome next weekend as regional champions.
Austin Cain, Taylor Rupe, Tony Williams and Jacob Ellefson, all of Montesano, and Hoquiam’s Artimus Johnson won their divisions at the Region I Class 1A wrestling tournament Saturday at Hoquiam Square Garden.
Forks took the team title with 239 points. Montesano edged Klahowya, 198-189, for second place.
Eighteen Harborites, excluding alternates (and wrestling is one of the few sports that, because of injuries, alternates have at least an outside shot at competing) advanced to the multi-classification Mat Classic on Friday and Saturday at the Tacoma Dome.
All five of the area’s regional champions know the drill, having placed in the top four at state last year. Cain and Rupe will seek to repeat as state champions, while Williams was second, Johnson third and Ellefson fourth in the 2016 1A tourney.
Montesano produced seven regional finalists.
Last year’s state 152-pound champion, Cain recorded three pins in less than a minute on Saturday. His pin of Forks’ Brett Moody in 53 seconds was his longest match of the tourney.
At that, he spent more time on the mat than teammate Rupe, the reigning state 285-pound titleholder. After receiving a first-round bye, the Montesano senior needed only 18 seconds to pin his semifinal opponent, then finished off Forks’ Nathan Flores in 1:10 of the title match.
Ellefson also registered a trio of first-round pins. The senior 120-pounder had Cascade Christian’s Logan Fluhrer in trouble from the outset of their title bout, then finished the job with one second remaining in the opening round.
Although the aggressor in the first two rounds against Elma’s Justin Sample in an all-East County 138-pound final, Williams took only a 2-1 lead into the third stanza. Starting from the down position, he registered a quick escape, then scored a takedown before pinning Sample in 4:47.
Montesano’s Tyler Izatt battled Klahowya’s Karsten Jensen evenly for most of two rounds in their 132-pound title bout. But a takedown to end the second round gave Jensen a 3-0 lead and he pulled away in the third round for a 6-0 victory.
Kai Olson and Andy Fry were Monte’s other losing finalists. Klahowya’s Gabe Wallis decisioned Olson, 8-1, in the 170-pound final, while Fry was pinned by Forks’ Josue Lucas in the first round of the 106-pound title match.
The Bulldogs were fourth in last year’s state 1A team standings. Their potential first-place punch leaves Monte coach Jeff Klinger optimistic about another top-five finish.
“We have seven guys up front, I’m very happy about that,” Klinger said. “I’m not disappointed about (our regional finish). We don’t have the depth that Forks and Klahowya have. I’m looking forward to state.”
Jordan Tibbitt (113) and Carson Klinger (160) were Montesano’s other state qualifiers.
Hoquiam’s Johnson rivaled Cain and Rupe in terms of dominating his weight class (182 pounds).
The HHS senior notched three first-round pins. After taking down Bellevue Christian’s Christian Miller three times in the opening minute, Johnson completed the pin in 1:15.
Johnson was Hoquiam’s lone finalist. But the Grizzlies will be represented at state by a five-man contingent, as Lutra Felten (106), Alex Houbregs (113) and Andre’s Vasquez (138) each placed third, while Antonio Garcia was fourth at 132.
“We had a rough first round, we went 2-8,” Grizzly coach T.J. Helland said. “But our guys battled back. The kids showed a lot of perseverance, they showed a lot of heart.”
He was particularly pleased with the showing of Jordan Sears, a first-year wrestler who earned a state alternate’s berth at 182 pounds.
Elma had a pair of regional runners-up in Sample and 152-pound Matt Hitchiner. The latter scored a pair of impressive wins to make the title round, but dropped a 16-5 decision to Vashon Island’s Adrian St. Germain.
Eagle coach Adam Catterlin was impressed with the performances of his other two state qualifiers, Colten French (120) and Andrew Persell (126). By winning their third-place matches, French and Persell secured a more favorable first-round state draw.
“I’m expecting big things out of all of those kids,” Catterlin said.
The title round was strangely lacking in dramatic matches, at least until the final bout of the program. Trailing 15-7 midway through the third round of the 220-pound final, Forks’ Luke Dahlgren pinned Chimacum’s Cody McLain with 1:11 remaining.
Top four to state.
106: Championship — Josue Lucas (Forks) pinned Andy Fry (Montesano), 1:16. 3. Lutra Felten (Hoquiam). 4. Payton Hlebechuk (Klahowya). 113: Championship — Brian Spillman (Klahowya) pinned Isaiah Zetterberg (Cascade Christian), 1:10. 3. Alex Houbregs (Hoquiam). 4. Jordan Tibbitt (Montesano). 120: Championship — Jacob Ellefson (Montesano) pinned Logan Fluhrer (Cascade Christian), 1:59. 3. Colten French (Elma). 4. Moses Kilpatrick (Vashon). 126: Championship — Luke Larson (Vashon) dec. Dallin Stafford (Klahowya), 9-1. 3. Andrew Persell (Elma). 4. Nico Nuxall (Vashon). 132: Championship — Karsten Jensen (Klahowya) dec. Tyler Izatt (Montesano), 6-0. 3. Julian Fifield (Vashon). 4. Antonio Garcia (Hoquiam). 138: Championship — Tony Williams (Montesano) pinned Justin Sample (Elma), 4:47. 3. Andre’s Vasquez (Hoquiam). 4. Hunter Burger (Vashon). 145: Championship — Garrison Schumack (Forks) won injury default over Colby Demorest (Forks). 3. Sean Hussey (Cascade Christian). 4. Henry Veittenhans (Port Townsend).
152: Championship — Adrian St. German (Vashon) dec. Matt Hitchiner (Elma), 16-5. 3. Gavin Palmer (Forks). 4. Tray Hawley (Klahowya). 160: Championship — Austin Cain (Montesano) pinned Brett Moody (Forks), 0:53. 3. Carson Klinger (Montesano). 4. Shane Queen (Forks). 170: Championship — Gabe Wallis (Klahowya) dec. Kai Olson (Montesano), 8-1. 3. Kenny Gale (Forks). 4. Toretto Metzger-Magalei (Cascade Christian). 182: Championship — Artimus Johnson (Hoquiam) pinned Christian Miller (Bellevue Christian), 1:15. 3. Stuard Barta (Tenino). 4. Ryan Caldwell (Chimacum). 195: Championship — Jack Dahlgren (Forks) pinned Tyrick Weyrauch (Tenino), 3:06. 3. Eden Cisneros (Forks). 4. Riley Farrell (Klahowya). 220: Championship — Luke Dahlgren (Forks) pinned Cody McLain (Chimacum), 4:49. 3. Dylan Leer (Klahowya). 4. Tristen Pisani (Forks). 285: Championship — Taylor Rupe (Montesano) pinned Nathan Flores (Forks), 1:10. 3. Jacob Massie (Port Townsend). 4. Tucker Booth (Port Townsend).