Puyallup High School wrestling head coach Aaron Lee has three reasons to be excited for this weekend’s Class 4A state tournament.
The Vikings’ Joey Meyer (195 pounds), Matt Voss (220) and Trent Nivala (285) all won regional championships on Saturday at Emerald Ridge High School on South Hill, and they’ll enter the two-day Mat Classic as favorites in their respective weight classes. The event begins Friday at the Tacoma Dome.
“I told them that it would be one of the better days of my life if I get to sit in the chair for three matches in a row,” Lee said of the state finals, which will be held Saturday night. “So let’s go make it happen. When you have guys that are as good as they are, everybody knows it. Everybody is going to come at them. Their opponents are going to try just a little bit harder against them.
“Our guys just got to be ready. I’m excited.”
Puyallup 160-pounder Tucker Hanson captured fourth place at regionals and also will advance to the state tournament. The Vikings’ Tristan Cleek (145) will wrestle in a pigtail match Friday morning to see if he can clinch a spot in the final round of 16 wrestlers.
Rogers will send six to the Mat Classic. Sophomore Troy Wilson won the regional championship at 138 pounds, and senior team captain Brandon Brenenstahl (152) finished as the regional runner-up. Beau Shatto (120) and Ty Wilson (145) each tallied third-place finishes.
Ruben Hernandez (106) and Jovanis Rodriguez (152) both finished fourth for Rogers.
Rodriguez, who registered a dramatic, come-from-behind 4-3 victory against Graham Kapowsin’s Jared Schroeder to clinch a Mat Classic berth during the regional consolation round, said practice made perfect when he needed it the most.
The Rogers coaching staff has a drill titled “Triple time,” during which they go over scenarios in the final 10 to 20 seconds of a match when a wrestler needs a takedown in order to win. Rodriguez missed on two shots but finally registered a takedown on his third attempt with just one second left in regulation.
“No matter how many seconds are left, you’ve got to work and work, because anything can happen,” Rodriguez said. “He (Schroeder) was stalling at the end. I just had to keep shooting to get him tired.”
Hernandez pinned Bethel’s Casey Brady in the second round of the consolation bracket to clinch his first appearance at Mat Classic.
“I have never even made it out of league before,” Hernandez said. “This year was my last, so I really just threw myself at this sport and have given it my all. This year I had a mentality that I had to make it (to state), or that was it. I had to make it. I did it.”
Shatto ground out a 4-3 victory against Auburn’s Balteer Rana to assure himself a place at Mat Classic.
“The first couple of rounds were really tough,” Shatto said. “What we train for at Rogers is to win the third round, and that’s what happened.”
Sophomore Ty Wilson was glad to reach the state tournament. The mild-mannered 145-pounder said he’s excited about the opportunity.
“It’s going to be a tough competition, and I’m glad I’m going to be part of it,” Wilson said.
Emerald Ridge will send senior Cesar Quintanilla, who placed second at regionals at 160 pounds, and 170-pounder Josiah Arnold, who finished fourth on Saturday.