LYNDEN - Mount Baker didn't even bring enough wrestlers to represent each weight class, but that didn't stop the Mountaineers from leaving the Lynden Annual Invitational 2014 with a nice piece of hardware.
Mountaineers coach Ron Lepper called it his team's best performance of the year.
Nine wrestlers made the trek to Lynden. Each one placed. Four reached the championship round, and freshman 106 pounder Jesus Torrero earned his first career tournament win, as the Mountaineers overcame small numbers to capture a third-place team finish Saturday, Jan. 25, at Lynden High School.
"I think it's probably the best we've wrestled all year, overall," Lepper said. "It feels kind of nice; Jesus getting his first tournament win, JT (Keeney) getting to the finals for the first time in a tournament and I thought Alex Tyska wrestled really well tonight."
Lepper said it was Baker's best example of accomplishing a lot with a little since years ago when he took five wrestlers to a tournament and Baker finished second.
Class 3A power Glacier Peak had four individual champions and won the invite with 162 points, Oak Harbor followed with 145 and Baker rounded out the top three with 124.
Much to the pleasant surprise of Lynden coach Randy Anderson, the Lions took sixth with 76 points, Bellingham took eighth with 67, Sehome was 13th with 49 and Squalicum took 14th with 46. Seventeen teams competed.
But no area team was as strong as Baker.
Torrero, who was the Mountaineers' only champion, Alex Tyska (160 pounds), Alex Ray (182) and Keeney (195) each reached the finals. Skyler Cannon (120) and Jeremiah Cronk (138) tied for third, and William Casados (132), Travis Lindsey (170) and Max Martinson (220) tied for fifth.
"I'm very proud of my team," Torrero said. "We are a good team. We bust out butts at practice, and it shows out here."
Mount Baker finished with a tournament record of 27-11, earning 16 pins.
Torrero recorded three of those, including his championship round win against Lynwood's Oscar Trombert.
The match was tied 2-2 with 25 seconds left in the third period when Torrero caught Trombert leaning in too far from the neutral position. In a split-second, Torrero capitalized with a headlock, taking Trombert to the ground for a two-point lead before getting the pin with 3 seconds left.
"It feels great," said the Baker freshman. "I've kind of been struggling all year a little bit. It feels awesome."
Tyska nearly gave Baker two invite champions thanks to a valiant third-period comeback effort. Trailing 8-2 with under 50 seconds left, Tyska scored an escape, followed that with a takedown and miraculously tied the match with a three-point near fall all in 30 seconds.
But the Baker senior's hope for a title quickly ended in sudden death overtime. Glacier Peak's Logan Coleman got hold of Tyska's legs and completed the takedown attempt 7 seconds into OT.
Lynden 182-pound freshman Brody Weinheimer and Bellingham 120-pound veteran Riley Takemura gave Whatcom County three total champions.
Takemura's win was the most dominant. The small, compact two-time state wrestler pinned Newport's Diego Dwyer in 3:22 and was leading 9-2 when the referee's hand slapped the mat.
Takemura earned a three-point near-fall in the first period and seemingly had a counter for every move Dwyer tried working.
"It was a good matchup against a tough opponent," Takemura said. "I knew it was going to be a fight. I knew it was going to be a battle. I just wanted to work my stuff and keep motion."
Takemura's tournament consisted of three pins and an 18-1 semifinal decision against Mountlake Terrace's Gene Ahn.
Red Raiders wrestler Sergio Torres (132) also reached the finals but lost in a 9-1 decision to Oak Harbor's Jeremy Vester.
For Weinheimer, his win was a moment he'd been waiting for since at least fifth grade when he began working out with the Lions wrestling team.
Most tournament-winning freshmen are of the lightweight variety, but Weinheimer navigated his bracket with four straight pins. He locked Ray into a cradle to cap his tournament title-run, earning a pin in 2:39.
"As a freshman coming in at a high weight, it's a big deal to me," Weinheimer said. "I've been working with the team for a long time and have been looking forward to my high school career for a long time."
Teammate Christian Mouat (145-pound weight class) came within seconds from ending the Lynden Annual Invitation the way the hosts wanted to, but the Lynden senior lost his championship match 10-9 in upsetting fashion.
Mouat built an 8-4 second-period lead only to see it dissolve away. Glacier Peak opponent Ethan Barr scored a reversal to tie the match at 8-8 with 57 seconds left in the final period. Mouat escaped with 42 seconds left to go ahead 9-8, but just before the buzzer Barr earned a takedown to win.
"Christian and Brody had great matches all day," Anderson said. "Christian lost that one literally in the last 2 seconds. That was a heartbreaker, but, you know, better here than later."
Squalicum's top finisher was Luke Jordan (126), who suffered an 8-5 loss in the championship round. Jordan recorded a pin and a 9-0 and 11-0 decision during his first three rounds. Sehome's top finishers were Steven Yazzie (132) and Briley Funk (285). Both tied for third in their respective weight classes.
Reach Andrew Lang at email@example.com or call 360-756-2862. Follow @bhamsports on Twitter for Whatcom County sports updates.
LYNDEN ANNUAL INVITATIONAL 2014
GLACIER PEAK 162, OAK HARBOR 145, MOUNT BAKER 124, LYNWOOD 101, MOUNTLAKE TERRACE 96, LYNDEN 76, MEADOWDALE 74, BELLINGHAM 67, PORT TOWNSEND 67, SNOHOMISH JV 60, NEWPORT 53, SHORECREST 53, SEHOME 49, SQUALICUM 46, EASTSIDE CATHOLIC 41, SAMMAMISH 29, MONROE 20
At Lynden High School
106: Jesus Torrero (Mount Baker) pin Oscar Tromberrt (Lynwood) 5:57. 113: Christian Bertram (Oak Harbor) dec. David Yingling (Newport) 9-6. 120: Riley Takemura (Bellingham) pin Diego Dwyer (Newport) 3:22. 126: John Kim (Glacier Peak) dec. Luke Jordan (Squalicum) 8-5. 132: Jeremy Vester (Oak Harbor) dec. Sergio Torres (Bellingham) 9-1. 138: Matt Iwicki (Eastside Catholic) dec. Jahleel Vester (Oak Harbor) 5-2. 145: Ethan Barr (Glacier Peak) dec. Christian Mouat (Lynden) 10-9. 152: Mark Johnston (Oak Harbor) pin Matt Cain (Port Townsend). 160: Logan Coleman (Glacier Peak) dec. Alex Tyska (Mount Baker) 10-8 (OT). 170: Sid Springberg (Mountlake Terrace) forfeit. 182: Brody Weinheimer (Lynden) pin Alex Ray (Mount Baker) 2:39. 195: Ciaran Ball (Meadowdale) injury default 1:17. 220: Manual Vasquez (Lynwood) pin Connor Heger (Eastside Catholic). 285: Mosese Fifita (Glacier Peak) pin Jackson Constant (Oak Harbor).
Reach ANDREW LANG at firstname.lastname@example.org or call ext. 862.