Blaine coach Craig Foster knew coming into Mat Class XXVII any of his seven returning state wrestlers were more than capable of making a strong tournament run.
The Borderites, the defending Class 1A state champions, felt repeating again this year wasn’t out of the question, and Blaine advanced six of its nine wrestlers to day two. After a full day of Tacoma Dome wrestling Friday, Feb. 20, Blaine finished in seventh place with 41 points, only 16 behind Class 2A-leading Toppenish.
But Friday belonged to 113-pound sophomore Colton Economy and 145-pound junior Caleb Frey.
Economy and Frey were two of only three, out of 32 Whatcom County boys’ wrestlers, who won two matches and advanced to the state semifinals.
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And both matches were nail-bitters.
Economy opened the tournament with a 6-5 decision over Hudson’s Bay’s Jon McMillian, and he added more high-drama with a 3-2 decision over top-ranked Mason Hamilton of White River in the state quarterfinals. Economy, who entered as a regional No. 3 seed, beat a No. 2 seed and a No. 1 seed to advance.
“It’s just awesome, because all the hard work paid off,” Economy said. “Every single thing paid off. I’m just happy.”
Economy entered the third period leading 1-0, but Hamilton quickly tied the match with an early escape. With 35 seconds left Economy saw his opportunity to capitalize on a Hamilton mistake, and the Blaine sophomore took it.
“I noticed he had a pattern of resting after we got in a scramble,” Economy said, “so I just hit my double leg at the perfect time. I was trying to keep it close until the end, because I knew he was a tough guy, and then I just shot when the time was right.”
Economy snared Hamilton’s legs, got position for a two-point takedown and took a 3-1 lead with 35 seconds left.
Less than an hour later Frey joined Economy in the semis with an intense match of his own, beating Franklin Pearce’s Max Henry-Nelson 3-1 in overtime.
Henry-Nelson tied the match at 1-1 with a minute to go, and with 33.9 seconds left in OT Frey scored a two-point takedown. Once the match ended he raised up and pointed to the Blaine cheering section.
“It feels great,” said Frey. “Got a big win in overtime like I did in the finals at regionals. I just had to watch my ankles, because that’s what he was shooting on me. I knew he was gassed, so when he pushed on me hard, I snapped down, grabbed me an ankle and, takedown.”
Frey pinned Shorecrest’s Owen Donnelly in 5:47 to advance to the quarterfinals.
Joining Economy and Frey Saturday but not wrestling for titles will be Gage Lott (126), Derreck Camba (126), Anthony Frey (132) and Riley Fritsch (138).
Outside of Blaine, only Squalicum’s Zachary Wallace survived Friday’s rounds. The Storm senior dropped his opening match 6-4, but rebounded nicely with a 12-7 decision over Renton’s Michael Stuart followed by a 6-2 decision over Washougal’s AJ Christianson.
Bellingham sent both Alden Roberts (152) and Blair Bennett (160) to state, but senior Riley Takemura (120) got to compete by filling in as an alternate. Combined the group went 1-6 with Roberts winning the Red Raiders’ only match. Roberts pinned Hudson’s Bay’s Tristian Maxwell in the first consolation round.
Sehome’s lone participant, Briley Funk (285) and Lynden’s only state contender, Payton Peterson-Scotter, both didn’t advance.
Peterson-Scotter went 0-2, and Funk finished 1-2, suffered an overtime loss in a winner-moves-on, loser-out match that ended Friday’s wrestling.