A year ago at Mat Classic XXVII Ferndale’s Ben Broselle experienced one of the most exhilarating highs and brutal lows the tournament can offer.
Two Day 1 wins left Broselle a win away from wrestling for a state championship heading into the medal rounds. Then Day 2 began, and his promising tournament performance unraveled
Three consecutive defeats later and Broselle had to begrudgingly accept a sixth-place medal.
But what Broselle endured that Saturday served him well when the junior 182-pound wrestler found himself in the same position this winter at Mat Classix XXVIII.
“I was not going to lose that semifinal match,” Broselle said. “‘I’m not doing this again, and there’s no way I am going to lose this match.’ I guess it kind of fueled me. I didn’t want the same thing to happen.”
Broselle dominated. He earned a technical fall, ending the match in the third period with 59 seconds left. The Golden Eagle then went ahead and capped an already impressive tournament by becoming the only Whatcom County boy wrestler to win a state championship, beating Enumclaw’s Kione Gill with an 8-4 decision.
Still looking back on it, I can’t believe I did it. I’ve always wanted it since I was a little kid, and I looked up to the people who did really well at state. I was one of the best feelings ever. It was amazing.
Ferndale junior state champion Ben Broselle
Broselle has been selected The Bellingham Herald’s All-Whatcom County Boys’ Wrestler of the Year, while his coach, Caleb Schlack, has been selected Coach of the Year. Schlack not only coached his first Ferndale wrestler to a state title, he guided seven Golden Eagles to the Mat Classic and Ferndale placed ninth in state with 65.5 points.
Broselle’s title win shouldn’t come as a surprise — last year he proved he had the pedigree to win one — but it did occur under some trying circumstances.
Nearly all of Broselle’s football season was wiped out after suffering a hip injury that prevented him from being in peak shape for wrestling season. Then midway through wrestling, he missed two weeks with an ankle injury.
When Broselle was sidelined for two weeks, instead of falling behind, he refocused. He spent more time on mental preparation, going through his moves and how we wanted to dictate his matches.
“A couple of weeks ago I asked (wrestling partner Sam Cleary) when he thought I was going to do good at state, and he said right after my ankle injury I came back with a fire and wanted to win,” Broselle said.
Broselle made quick work of his regional competition, earning a title with two first-minute pins and a 9-5 decision.
He pinned his first opponent at the Mat Classic in 1 minute, 45 seconds before earning a quarterfinal pin in 4:17 against a wrestler Broselle lost to his junior year.
His semifinal technical fall setup a finals matchup with Gill, a wrestler Broselle said was billed as the favorite to win.
“Going into the finals match down there on the floor looking at everyone, usually I’m nervous for every match,” Broselle said. “Except for that one. I went out there almost clam. I was talking to my coaches and thinking about what I going to do once I got onto the mat. I was hyped. I wasn’t nervous at all and wrestled my match.”
Broselle scored an early takedown, building a comforting lead and held on the rest of the way to claim his state championship.
“Still looking back on it, I can’t believe I did it,” Broselle said. “I’ve always wanted it since I was a little kid, and I looked up to the people who did really well at state. It was one of the best feelings ever. It was amazing.”
All-Whatcom County Athletes of the Year
The Bellingham Herald is proud to honor the student-athletes of the winter sports season for an 11th straight year. Here is a look back at the winners of the All-Whatcom County Boys’ Wrestler of the Year award:
2005-06: Sam Zylstra, Nooksack Valley
2006-07: Steven Ayers, Sehome
2007-08: McKray Jones, Bellingham
2008-09: Reid Chivers, Bellingham
2009-10: Tim Barron, Squalicum
2010-11: Alec Postlewait, Mount Baker
2011-12: Jeremy Korthuis, Lynden
2012-13: Caleb Johnson, Blaine
2013-14: Mikey Antczak, Blaine
2014-15: Caleb Frey, Blaine
2015-16: Ben Broselle, Ferndale