TACOMA - Ferndale 220-pound senior Kam Williams split his first two matches last year then ended his tournament in heartbreak with a second loss on the first day.
He made sure this year was a different story.
Williams opened his 2013 Mat Classic XXV with a pin against Hanford's Dallon Grinder and followed with a 4-1 decision against Mountain View's Ryan Tonder to advance to Day 2 and earn a semifinals berth.
"It's a feeling I've never felt before," Williams said. "It's always something I've dreamed of doing. That's what I've been working for all during the summer when all my friends were out having fun."
Williams' performance was one of only a few bright spots for the Golden Eagles Friday, Feb. 15, at the Tacoma Dome.
Riley Saenz, Sam Alexander, and Klinton Maassen each won a match, but Williams was the only Ferndale wrestler to advance to Saturday's medal rounds.
Nine Golden Eagles qualified for the state tournament.
Among those two-and-outs were Mike Carpenter, Isaiah Heredia, Adaeus Wilson-Premo, Derek Vajda and Hunter Grunhurd.
Williams, who finished his evening before many of his teammates wrestled their third matches, was hoping his performance would inspire the rest of the team.
"Being in a winning position will hopefully give them a lot more confidence," Williams said. "I talked to some of the younger guys and kind of helped them along."
Unfortunately for Ferndale, it was to no avail.
Saenz got pinned halfway through the second round, Alexander got pinned at the beginning of the second round and Maassen lost a close 5-3 decision to Columbia River's Jeremiah Patrick during their bids to avoid the day-one cutdown.
Even though Williams won both his matches, he said his second was much improved.
"It was pretty sloppy," said Williams of his first-match pin. "My first match I came out scared that I was back at state. I went out thinking, 'I can't mess this up, I can mess this up, I can't mess this up.' Instead of going out there thinking about not losing, I need to go out there and think that I'm going to win."
Williams will bring that attitude when he faces Mt. Spokane's Tom Harvey in the semifinals. A spot in the 220-pound state final will be on the line.
Reach Andrew Lang at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 360-756-2862.
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