Squalicum senior Zachary Wallace after an opening-round first-day defeat looked as if his state tournament again would be a one-day trip.
Wallace, a senior wrestling at 138 pounds, had been to the Mat Classic twice prior, but both times he left without a medal.
After guaranteeing himself a podium spot with back-to-back day-one wins, Wallace carried over the momentum Saturday, Feb. 21, at the Tacoma Dome.
He won his first two matches, giving him four consecutive wins, before suffering a 7-4 loss in his final match to place fourth, the third best place of any Whatcom County boys’ wrestler.
“I’ve been trying to go to state and place all four years, and this is the third time so it’s nice to cap off my senior year on a good note,” Wallace said. “Even though I didn’t win that last match, I can proudly say I wrestled tough every single match, and I feel good about that.”
Wallace beat Orting’s Rex Dunn 8-5 in his first match Saturday, ensuring he’d get a medal no lower than sixth place. Then against Toppenish’s Andrew Saaverda, the wrestler who handed him his opening-round loss Friday, Wallace got revenge with a 4-1 triple overtime win.
The match entered overtime tied 1-1. Neither wrestler scored in the first OT period, and during the ensuing 30-second overtime, Saaverd, who started on bottom, couldn’t score, setting up a third OT.
Wallace scored an escape with 25 seconds left in the third overtime and added a two-point takedown to seal the win.
“Part of it is just your last year,” said Wallace when asked how he was able to win four straight after losing his first match, “but it definitely has to do with your teammates and people that come into work with you. Being with my brother, too, helped me persevere, because he won his first match and that gave me that extra will power to push through.”
Baker’s Cronk seventh, Nooksack Valley’s Gardner sixth in 1A
Mount Baker junior Jeremiah Cronk didn’t obtain his goal during Mat Classic XXVII, but given the way he wrestled, he’ll still be leaving with his head held high.
Cronk ended the way every wrestler wants to end their season — with a win. After getting sent to the 145-pound match for seventh or eighth place following an early Saturday loss, Cronk pulled out a gritty 5-3 overtime win against Chelan’s Julian Buyas.
Cronk tied the match at 3-3 with less than 10 seconds left in regulation, and he didn’t waste time scoring a sudden death two-point takedown.
“I knew I had it,” Cronk said. “I knew I had to get it. I got more aggressive and started going after things that I hadn’t previously. ... I didn’t quite meet this year’s goal, which was top four, but I wrestled well, and I can live with it.”
Unlike Cronk, Nooksack Valley wrestler Taylor Gardner’s season and Mat Classic ended on a sour note, losing by pin in a consolation match, but the Pioneers senior still left Tacoma Dome with a sixth-place medal.
He beat Vashon Island’s Chester Pruett with a 3-0 decision to start the day before losing his final two matches.
Broselle settles for sixth after tough day
Ferndale sophomore Ben Broselle was less than one minute away from etching his spot in Class 3A’s 160-pound state championship match.
He led Arlington’s Ruben Crew 3-1, but in a 15-second span Broselle saw his state-title dreams vanish. Crew, with 50 seconds to go, earned an escape to cut Broselle’s lead to 3-2 and then quickly followed with a two-point takedown. Broselle couldn’t get out from under Crew the rest of the way, suffering a heartbreaking 4-3 defeat.
The loss prompted an avalanche of misfortunes for Broselle.
The Golden Eagles sophomore followed his semifinal loss with an 11-7 loss to Meadowdale’s Colton Davis and a 10-4 defeat to Marysville-Pilchuck’s Keith Pablo. Broselle seemed to be dealing with a leg injury through his final two matches.
“I went in too confident into my first match,” Broselle said. “I lost, and it just went downhill from there.”
Although Broselle went 0-3 Saturday, he still came away with a sixth-place medal.
Ferndale’s Condon finishes strong, takes fifth
Ferndale senior Patrick Condon could hardly wipe the smile of his face upon completing the final match of his wrestling career.
He had plenty of reason to celebrate. Not only did he end on a win, he pinned his opponent in signature fashion.
“It was my favorite move, so it’s kind of awesome to get that,” said Condon of his front head lock, right ankle pick to cradle that he used to pin Chief Sealth’s Daron Camacho. “It was my season goal (to place). I didn’t place last year, so I came out here hoping to get top five.”
Pinning Camacho in 2:47 allowed Condon to earn fifth place.
Condon opened Saturday’s wrestling with a 7-1 decision over Edmonds-Woodway’s Spencer Schultz and loss his second match before pinning Camacho. Condon finished the tournament with a 4-2 record.
Lynden senior refuses to lose final match
Lynden 170-pound girls’ wrestler Alexus Garcia had never made the state tournament before her senior year. But there she was on Saturday, Feb. 21, as the only Lions’ wrestler to make it to day two of Mat Classic XXVII at the Tacoma Dome.
In her first match Saturday, Garcia was pinned in the second round by Stadium’s Latiana Tauaese.
Not wanting to end her high school wrestling career on a sour note, Garcia wrestled with everything she had, something she learned from her mom, who is fighting breast cancer.
“My whole season is dedicated to my mom,” Garcia said. “She never gave up and she taught me never to give up. That’s why I’m here today.”
Her seventh-eighth place match was quick. Garcia pinned Warden’s Aneissa Gonzales in just 26 seconds to earn the seventh-place medal.
Lynden coach Santos Gallegos spoke briefly with his only 2015 state placer after the match.
“He told me that he’s seen me grow since my freshman year and that if I set my mind to it, I can do anything,” Garcia said. “He’s been one of my biggest supporters.”
Bruntil gets taste of Mat Classic
Nooksack Valley 120-pound girls’ wrestler Emma Bruntil did not have much success on Saturday, Feb. 21, at the Tacoma Dome.
She lost all three of her matches on day two of Mat Classic XXVII, picking up a sixth-place medal, after reaching the semifinals with two wins on Friday.
But the freshman is just glad she got a shot against the best wrestlers in the state on the biggest stage in high school wrestling.
“It gives me a lot of confidence to know that a year ago I didn’t even know what a reversal was,” Bruntil said. “Now I’m a state placer.”
Bruntil lost her semifinal match by a second-round pin to Puyallup’s Jordyn Bartelson.
In the consolation semifinals, Bruntil fell behind 4-0 in the first two rounds, making way for an exciting final two minutes. It started with a takedown and near fall for Yelm’s Hailey Meyers, extending her lead to 9-0.
Then Bruntil started to make her move. A reversal and near fall made way to two stalling penalties on Meyers, putting the match at 9-7. An ear grabbing foul on Bruntil all but sealed her fate in the 10-7 loss.
She wasn’t able to reverse her fortunes in the fifth-sixth place match either, as she lost 6-4 to Sunnyside’s Daisy Chavez despite two third-round takedowns.
“It’s OK. I’m a freshman,” Bruntil said. “I have three more years and I’ll do anything to make sure I’m in the finals next year.”
Injury doesn’t stop Sehome’s Hernandez from medal
In her consolation semifinal match on Saturday, Feb. 21, at the Tacoma Dome, Sehome 235-pound girls’ wrestler Lisa Hernandez was tapping on Centralia’s Ryan Gibbons legs, as the Tigers’ wrestler had Hernandez’s arm pinned underneath her.
The referee eventually saw Hernandez was in severe pain and paused the match. Trainers went out to evaluate Hernandez’s shoulder. She had aggravated a tear in her shoulder. She could either choose to continue or decide to quit.
She went on. Moments later it happened again and Hernandez decided to push on again.
“I was literally just going to stop when I got injured,” Hernandez said. “But I talked to myself. I said ‘You know what? It’s your last year, go for it.’ That was it. I had to do it for myself.”
Hernandez ended up getting pinned in the second round but her resiliency came through in her fifth-sixth place match, as she held on to a 6-5 win over Todd Beamer’s Hailie Parker.
“I had to tell myself ‘It’s your last year, push yourself,’” Hernandez said. “It’s unbelievable to me.”
It was the culmination of years of hard work in trying to overcome the stigma that comes with competing for a budding program with small numbers of wrestlers.
“I proved so many people wrong that doubted me through this whole season,” Hernandez said. “Since my sophomore year I’ve heard a lot of coaches say ‘Oh she’s nothing, She’s not a big deal.’ You have to always go out there and show them and prove them wrong.”
Adams’ career ends in difficult way
Blaine 135-pound girls’ wrestler Olivia Adams has never had it easy. She was the only Borderite girls’ wrestler and had to compete with the boys every day over the course of her four years at Blaine.
That all paid off in a third-place finish last season at the Mat Classic.
After winning both her matches on Friday, Feb. 21, to make it to the semifinal match, it appeared Adams could build on 2014’s finish.
Saturday’s Mat Classic XXVII events at the Tacoma Dome didn’t fare well for the senior, though.
In the semifinals, Adams fell behind Kelso’s Mariah Horton 3-0 after the first two rounds. She also suffered yet another bloody nose, which paused the match for several minutes as she was attended to by coaches and trainers.
An early takedown in the third made it 3-2 and it looked like Adams might be able to make up the difference but the nose broke open again and gave Horton a chance to catch her breath.
A late takedown by Horton gave Adams the 5-2 loss.
Adams once again fell behind in the consolation semifinals, as Granger’s Alejandra Rodriguez earned a near fall in the second round to make it 5-2.
Blaine’s senior picked up a two-point reversal to make it 5-4 in the third round but it wasn’t enough.
The fifth-sixth place match was the most unkind to Adams, who lost Liberty (Issaquah)’s Joanna Moreira 13-4.
While things didn’t go the right way for Adams on Saturday, she is a four-time state participant and on Friday said the feeling of never wrestling again hadn’t sunk in yet.
“It probably set in after tomorrow (Saturday) and then when I’m eating, I’ll be like ‘Whoa, I don’t have to watch what I eat,’” Adams said.