TACOMA - Nooksack Valley girls' wrestler Chloe Gardner didn't need any extra motivation during Mat Classic XXVI.
She's been determined to put herself in place to compete for the chance to wrestle for a state title since she suffered a heartbreaking defeat in last year's semifinals.
But Gardner got an extra boost after her brother, Taylor Gardner, was disqualified from the Mat Classic after being accused of biting his opponent during his second-round match.
With two wins Friday, Feb. 21, at the Tacoma Dome, Gardner established herself as the only girl wrestler out of 19 from Whatcom County who is still in state-title contention after an overall difficult day for county girls' wrestlers.
"Right before I went onto the mat, my brother got kicked out of the tournament for biting someone, and I flipped a gasket," Chloe explained, before noting he was reinstated after her match following a video coach Chad Parson showed to the WIAA officials absolving him of his accused foul play.
Chloe's rage meant nothing good for Kiona Benton's Elsa Gonzalez, her quarterfinal opponent.
Originally, it appeared Chloe's high emotions would be detrimental. She found herself on her back fighting off a pin attempt less than one minute into the first round, but everything changed once she got to the edge of the mat.
"I got out of bounds, and then I saw it was an opportunity as she was letting up, because she wanted to bring me back in," Chloe explained. "I flipped out and was able to put her on her back."
Five seconds later, the referee slammed his hand on the mat, signifying Chloe's win.
"I was really emotional and took it out on that girl," said the two-time state placer.
Chloe placed fourth in 2012 and third last year. She'll be looking to get a shot at first place when she takes on Forks' Brooke Peterson in the 145-pound semifinals Saturday morning, Feb. 22.
Somewhat surprisingly, Chloe is the county's lone wrestler with such an opportunity.
Mount Baker, which sent 10 girls to the Mat Classic, had only three survive elimination Friday.
It was an ominous start for the Mountaineers when Akemi Schwinden, Baker's 235-pound standout who placed fourth last year, exited the tournament due to a knee injury sustained during her first-round match.
Natalie Smith (118 pounds), Nicole Boardman (124) and Jessica Mata (137) won twice and advance to Saturday's medal rounds. But all three took a loss and will not be wrestling for state titles.
Baker's rough day effectively eliminated it from team title contention, although the Mountaineers were second in points after the morning session.
Nooksack Valley's Alex Parson (112) and Kylee Dekoekkoek (155) each went 2-1 and will wrestle in the medal rounds.
Blaine's Olivia Adams (130) also won two matches and advanced to day two, as well as Lynden's Gabriela Herrera (124) and Sehome's Lisa Hernandez (235).
Reach Andrew Lang at email@example.com or call 360-756-2862. Follow @bhamsports on Twitter for Whatcom County sports updates.
BLAINE (Wt.) Rnd. Opponent (School) Result Olivia Adams (130) First Natasha Willaims (Skyview) W pin 5:00 Quarters. Chloe Spencer (Ephrata) L pin 3:47 Cons. second Kendra Blue (White River) W pin 0:57
LYNDEN (Wt.) Rnd. Opponent (School) Result Emily Gallegos (100) First Elizabeth Galvez (Toppenish) L 9-7 Cons. first Katelyn Mercier (Spanaway Lake) W pin 2:26 Cons. second Britnee Cook (Kiona-Benton) L pin 4:03 Gabriela Herrera (124) First Hailey Huerta (Centralia) L pin 2:55 Cons. first Rebecca Diego (Spanaway Lake) W pin 1:25 Cons. second Jordain Harrop (Columbia River) W 12-4 Thalia Veliz (170) First Rosana Pena (Othello) L pin 1:42 Cons. first Dakota Moon (Kalama) L pin 3:22
MOUNT BAKER (Wt.) Rnd. Opponent (School) Result Lacey Postelwait (100) First Brittnee Cook (Kiona-Benton) L pin 2:45 Cons. first Kaitlyn Kroneman (Puyallup Rogers) W pin 1:56 Cons. second Mirielle Powers (Kelso) L pin 3:35 Natalie Smith (118) First Tania Dominguez (Warden) W pin 1:07 Quarters. Caitlin Horrocks (Skyview) L 9-5 Cons. second Erin Redford (White River) W pin 0:52 Nicole Boardman (124) First Jacqueline Phillips (Prairie) W pin 4:52 Quarters. Sharaya Quinn (Emerald Ridge) L pin 5:11 Cons. second Brianna Galvan (Steilacoom) W pin 2:42 Heidi Chambers (124) First Kaitlin Woods (Shelton) W pin 4:37 Quarters. Sydney Virgen (Chiawana) L 5-0 Cons. second Morgan Jones (Eastmont) L 7-0 Sylvia Lynch (130) First Kendra Dickson (Tumwater) L 13-12 Cons. first Kendra Blue (White River) L 7-6 Jessica Mata (137) First Hannah Randall (Winlock) W pin 2:56 Quarters. Raquel Gray (Spanaway Lake) L pin 5:56 Cons. second Angelica Vashchenko (Franklin Pierce) W pin 4:24 Rachel Nichols (145) First Brooke Peterson (Forks) L pin 1:47 Cons. first McKinsie Shirey (White River) W pin 4:33 Cons. second Leigh Lamay (Mount Vernon) L 3-2 Aniecea Camacho (155) First Latiana Tauase (Stadium) W 5-2 Quarters. Aneissa Gonzales (Warden) L 8-6 Cons. second Raven Svenson (Hazen) L 11-8 Jordan Horsman (170) First Jacqlyn Hunter (Kittitas) L pin 2:35 Cons. first Katie Eary (Washington) W pin 0:23 Cons. second Taylor Walker (Hoquiam) L 10-9 Akemi Schwinden (235) First Jasmine Starke (Sunnyside) L inj. def. Cons. first Makayla Barnett (Auburn) L inj. def.
NOOKSACK VALLEY (Wt.) Rnd. Opponent (School) Result Alex Parson (112) First Anesia Ramirez (Lakes) W 7-4 Quarters. Amanda Gilliam (North Central) L TF 20-5 Cons. second Tori Zambrano (Othello) W 8-4 Chloe Gardner (145) First Kyla Campbell (Yelm) W pin 1:49 Quarters. Elsa Gonzalez (Kiona-Benton) W pin 1:33 Kylee Dekoekkoek (155) First Abby Lees (Washougal) L 6-4, OT Cons. first Jesse Lobos (Pasco) W pin 0:42 Cons. second Joslin Pierotti (Enumclaw) W inj. def. Kaleiolani Jefferson (190) First Ryan Gibbons (Centralia) L pin 0:56 Cons. first Kelly Benson (Zillah) L pin 1:26
SEHOME (Wt.) Rnd. Opponent (School) Result Lisa Hernandez (235) First Alexandra Prado (Warden) W pin 0:22 Quarters. Shanelle Berry (Yelm) L 9-2 Cons. second Makayla Barnett (Auburn) W pin 1:25
Reach ANDREW LANG at firstname.lastname@example.org or call ext. 862.