TACOMA - Blaine and Mount Baker entered the 2013 Mat Classic with high aspirations. Mountaineers coach Ron Lepper put best what most Class 1A wrestlers were feeling after day one's conclusion.
"You always have high expectations, and when you don't achieve those, it doesn't feel as good." Lepper said.
Blaine, Mount Baker, Nooksack Valley and Meridian sent 23 wrestlers to the state tournament, and six or seven advanced Friday, Feb. 15, at the Tacoma Dome. Mount Baker heavyweight wrestler Jake Larsen's results weren't posted by press time.
The Borderites came into Day 1 thinking they might have an outside shot for a team title, and after the morning session the feat still seemed plausible.
Seven out of Blaine's 11 wrestlers won their first matches, but when the first day finished only three Borderites wrestled their way into Saturday's medal rounds.
Caleb Johnson (195) kept his dream alive of winning a state title by picking up back-to-back wins and a semifinal berth. Mikey Antczak (285) did the same with two straight victories. His second was a three overtime epic.
"Last year I lost a match and lost two out of my first three," Antczak said. "I kind of surprised myself that second match. I just need to wrestle smart tomorrow, make sure my stance is low and have confidence in myself."
Johnson finds himself in the same position as last year, but he's approaching this year differently.
Johnson settled for a fifth-place finish after being one match away from wrestling for a state title in 2012.
"Going into the semis, I kind of psyched myself out," Johnson said. "I started thinking, 'Am I really good enough to be in the semifinals at the Mat Classic Tournament?' This year I'm a year older, smarter and I know I belong here with the best of the wrestlers in the state of Washington. I'll be more prepared, calm and ready to come in and wrestle a good match."
Justin Belding (145 pounds) was the third Borderite to advance to the medal rounds. The Blaine senior won his first match, lost his second than rebounded with a 3-0 decision against Chelan's Juan Garcia.
Mount Baker's Tyrel Cronk (182) and Sterling Honeycutt also put themselves one win away from wrestling for a state title.
Cronk somewhat cruised in his two wins, but Honeycutt had to work for his.
Joey Walton (132) gave Mount Baker three medalists.
"There were a few guys that did pretty good, but there was a lot of us that didn't wrestle like we should have," Honeycutt said. "Some days you got it, and some days you don't."
Mount Baker's Shelby Miles (113) was the only other Mountaineer to win a match.
"It's the state tournament," Lepper said. "You get ups and downs, and very rarely do you walk out of here feeling good about everything. You always hope for a bit better, but I think we could have a little bit better today."
Blaine's Kyle Gonzales (106), Gage Lott (120), Anthony Frey (126), Caleb Frey (132), Christian Sharp (138) and Jon Stewart (160) all won one match and lost two, ending their tournament.
Nooksack Valley's Paul Newell (120) and Taylor Gardner (126) also won one and lost two, while Jesse O'Bryan (160) lost both his matches.
Meridian's lone state wrestler Neal Tilbury (195) lost both his matches and ended his state tournament Friday.
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