TACOMA — The Twin Harbors had plenty of representation on the podium at the Mat Classic on Saturday. In addition to three state champions, 14 wrestlers from the Twin Harbors took a medal home from their efforts at the Tacoma Dome.
Montesano’s Tony Williams (138) and Hoquiam’s Artimus Johnson (182) and Jenna Doll (155) all battled their way back to finish in third place in their respective brackets, while Aberdeen’s Tyler Souphommanichanh (126), Raymond’s Christian Anderson (220) and North Beach’s Natasha Fruh (235) each came away with a fourth-place medal.
Montesano’s Jacob Ellefson (120) was the only Twin Harbor grappler to win a fifth/sixth place match with Montesano’s Tyler Izatt (132), South Bend’s Joseph Lewis (132), Elma’s Justin Sample (138) and Raymond’s Jack Jordan (138) each finishing sixth.
Aberdeen’s Emily Wharton closed our her career with a pin to take seventh at 235 pounds. Montesano’s Andy Fry (106) and Elma’s Colten French (120) each placed eighth to end the season.
Souphommanichanh was the only Bobcat boys wrestler to find his way onto the podium on Saturday. After two wins on Friday, the junior faced Orting’s Alex Cruz in the semifinals. Cruz was an unstoppable force on his way to his third state title and Souphommanichanh struggled to score a point on the eventual champion.
Cruz got a takedown about 30 seconds into the match and managed to turn Souphommanichanh to his back three separate times for near fall points and take a 10-0 lead into the second round. Another takedown and near fall points would give Cruz the tech fall.
The Bobcat junior continued to battle the rest of the day and came away with a 5-3 decision over Trevor Newburn of Ridgefield before losing to Spencer Clegg of Clarkston in the third/fourth match.
“There was a lot of hard work put into this weekend,” Souphommanichanh said. “I’ve been through a lot throughout the season. I’ve had a lot of support and it means a lot to come out here and do my best for all of them. This tournament showed me what I could do as a wrestler and I’m excited to get back here and try to win a state title for everybody.”
Johnson also suffered defeat at the hands of the eventual state champion in Sultan’s Tanner Belcher. In the semifinal match at 182, Johnson jumped out to an early lead with a quick takedown, but the senior had trouble riding on top and Belcher was able to slide Johnson off his back and almost get a pin as the first period ended. The reversal had Johnson thinking the rest of the match. The two were tied going into the third, but Belcher escaped and earned a takedown and led the rest of the way to a 10-6 victory.
“You have to wrestle every match 100 percent,” Johnson said. “If you go in thinking that you just got it made that is when your mistakes happen and people take advantage of that. I took him down easily, no problem, and then he flipped me when I was on top and that just messed up my top game.”
The day was far from over for Johnson, who pinned Naches Valley’s Hunter Gangle in less than a minute and fought his way to a 2-0 decision over Cle Elum-Roslyn’s Jack Moen for third. Johnson overcame an early defeat to place third in 2016 as well.
“It just means that I’m not going to give up,” Johnson said. “You can’t just be upset and whine about it, you have to come back and still compete and I try to be a competitor to the best of my ability.”
Montesano finished with four place winners in addition to two champions as the Bulldogs finished fifth as a team. Leading the group of Bulldog placers was a third-place finish by Tony Williams.
After experiencing heartbreak on Friday when he was leading 7-0 when he was pinned by Brent Hodgson of Deer Park, Williams completely dominated the consolation bracket. The junior needed just 6:23 of mat time to pin four competitors, with two pins coming in less than a minute.
While Williams will look to improve on his finish next season, Ellefson made history as just the third Monte wrestler to place in all four years of his career. Ellefson’s first two matches of the day each were losses in close decisions.
Ellefson, who finished his career with second, third, fourth and fifth place medals, dropped a 6-3 decision to Jaron Gunter of Kiona-Benton in the semifinals and lost 6-5 to Eduardo Ridriguez of Royal before a pin in 22 seconds against Castle Rock’s Kaleb Carroll earned him fifth.
Izatt finished his career as a three-time placer, battling back after a loss in the first round to pull off three straight decisions to set himself up for a sixth-place medal.
Montesano coach Jeff Klinger said losing Ellefson and Izatt as well as state champs Austin Cain and Taylor Rupe will leave a void in the Bulldog program going forward.
“Those four are just really special to us,” Klinger said. “They have been such a backbone for are program over the past four years.”
Fry had his day ended earlier than he would have liked when he suffered a concussion in his match against Jeff Friedman of Lakeside of Nine Mile Falls and injury defaulted into eighth place.
Elma’s Justin Sample was responsible for one of the more exciting rounds in the entire tournament when he faced eventual state champion Dalton Young of Lakeside of Nine Mile Falls. While Young would finish his career a perfect 170-0 with four titles, Sample did everything he could to make Young earn his semifinal victory.
Young was able to take Sample to the mat in the first 30 seconds of the bout, but from there Sample controlled the first two minutes. The junior escaped 10 seconds after the takedown and worked to throw Young for much of the next minute. However, after the first round Sample ran out of gas as Young showed why he is still undefeated and came away with the pin in 5:29. Sample was the only competitor to last into the third round against Young.
Sample was pinned by Williams in the consolation bracket and finished his day with a 7-4 loss to Fletcher Andrews of White Salmon.
“Sample is just a warrior,” Elma coach Adam Catterlin said. “He had to battle it out every night. He is the most dedicated kid. He runs and trains and goes to camps. He is constantly looking to improve. He worked a lot on his mental game this year and that is the thing we have to continue to improve on because the skill and the mentality is there.”
French lost both of his matches on Saturday, but Catterlin said the improvement from both juniors has him expecting another medal from each next season.
“We brought four guys to state and one alternate and they put two plaques up on the wall, which is one better than last year,” Catterlin said. “They will come back next year and be doing some freestyle in the offseason work their butts off. I know I have dedicated kids and they are working on the youth program. It is all good things to come and we have nowhere to go but up.”
Anderson, Lewis and Jordan all ended the season on losses for the Willapa Harbor teams, but showed plenty of fight on Saturday. Anderson rebounded from a second round loss to string together three wins before being pinned in the third/fourth match against Nicholas Schurger of Mary Walker.
Lewis won his first match on Saturday 2-0, but was pinned in the next bout and came up short in a 7-3 loss to Rylan Anderson of Reardan to place sixth.
Jordan also started off with a 2-0 win on Saturday before losing the next two decision to finish in sixth.
“We are bringing back all but two kids of the eight we brought,” Willapa Harbor coach Preston Crow said. “We are a young team and we just have to get better. They wrestled hard to make it today and place so I’m pretty happy with that performance.”
After finishing fifth last season, Doll was overjoyed to place in the top three in 2017. Her day started out far from perfect with a 17-1 tech fall to Sequim’s Alma Mendoza, but Doll rebounded to shut out Natalie Hall of Pasco 7-0 and edge Wilson’s Kathleen Flanagan 6-5 for third.
“I’ve been fighting since my freshman year to place high and to get back last year and place fifth, I just wanted higher than that one and to show everybody what I was made of,” Doll said. “The last match, I was just like ‘Please God, let me keep going and have the endurance.’ I wanted to place. I wanted to make my team proud and make my family proud.”
Fruh and Wharton faced each other in their first match on Saturday with Fruh coming away with a pin in the second round. The junior earned another pin in the next round, but came up short in a 7-2 loss to Jailee Mercedes of Stanwood to place fourth.
Wharton rebounded after the loss to Fruh and finished her career with a pin of Sunnyside’s Maggie Torres in 2:51.