Puyallup’s Trent Nivala waited for the right opportunity to seal a victory Saturday night against Kentridge’s Daniel Vi during the Class 4A 285-pound championship match at the Mat Classic XXVI state tournament at the Tacoma Dome.
Vi, who outweighed Nivala by close to 40 pounds, attempted a bear hug on multiple occasions during the first two rounds. But when he tried it in the third round, Nivala quickly put Vi on his back and pinned him with 51 seconds left in the match.
“He (Vi) was trying to force that bear hug,” Nivala said. “He was getting tired, so I snapped him down, and I threw him with the cow catcher. It is something I have been doing for years. My first pin in junior high was with the cow catcher, and it’s ironic, my state championship match, I won it with that.
“When I hit it, I knew that he was done,” Nivala added. “Nobody gets out of that move. You dream about a moment like this. I’m not really known as the wrestler joe, and here I am, winning the state championship.”
Nivala was one of five wrestlers from east Pierce County to win state titles on Saturday.
Puyallup’s Matt Voss completed an undefeated season at 43-0 with a 5-4 victory against Mead’s Mason Ju in the 220-pound title match.
Puyallup’s Jordyn Bartelson won the state championship for the second straight season after she pinned Kingston’s Peyton Reece with 17 seconds left in the third round.
Rogers senior Brandon Brenenstahl won the 152-pound title, and Cascade Christian senior Josh Crager cruised to his third championship with a pin in the 1A 132-pound division.
Puyallup head coach Aaron Lee said, with Nivala, he’s preached patience all year long.
“I have been telling Trent since the beginning of the season that, because he is undersized, that he has to wait for the right moment,” Lee said. “When the moment comes in a match, you’ve got to hit it as hard as you can. He had his moment, and he hit it as hard as he could, and now he’s a state champion.”
Voss’ title was his second consecutive. Ju took Voss down with 41 seconds left in the third round to tie it at 4-4, but Voss registered a one-point escape with 19 seconds left and fended off Ju’s takedown attempts in the final 19 seconds to preserve the victory.
Lee said he wasn’t concerned, even when Ju tied the match late in the third round.
“Nobody is going to hold Matt down, and nobody is going to take him down two times in a match, so I wasn’t worried,” Lee said.
Voss said he expected Ju to be the toughest wrestler he faced this year.
“I have been wrestling Mason Ju ever since we were kids,” Voss said. “We know each other pretty well, so I expected a difficult match. He never puts himself in danger on the mat.
“I felt pretty confident I could escape,” he said. “I wasn’t particularly worried about having to stand up.”
Bartelson sank in a half-nelson with 29 seconds left before she pinned Reece for the championship.
Puyallup assistant coach Bryan Bartelson, Jordyn’s father, said he was proud of his daughter.
“Jordyn is a finisher,” he said. “When she puts them on their back, it’s usually done. Peyton is a really tough wrestler, and she came to wrestle. It was a great finals match.”
Jordyn said she wasn’t overconfident, despite going into Mat Classic as a defending champion.
“My dad told me to come in here and be really humble, because anyone can beat you on any given day,” she said. “When I got the half-nelson, I just had to squeeze and get the job done. It’s really exciting.”
Brenenstahl faced a familiar foe in Bethel’s Logann Bearrs for the title. He led 3-2 in the second round before he locked in a head-and-arm move and put Bearrs on his back.
Shortly afterward, Brenenstahl finished off the pin.
Rogers head coach David Johnston said Brenenstahl has perfected the move.
“Try to stop it is all I’ve got to say,” Johnston said. “When he was young, we tried to adjust it and change it. Now we just embrace it, coach him up to hit it better.
“I have watched him growing up since he was a little kid, coming to Rogers wrestling camp,” Johnston added. “Brandon has been the face of Rogers wrestling, so it’s nice to see him on the podium and reach his goals. He just leads by example. His demeanor, dedication and determination have got him here.”
Brenenstahl had tears streaming down his face following the match.
“This is the greatest feeling ever,” he said. “Ever since you are 4 years old, you dream to be here. You just keep working and working and working. My 10th grade year, I was a state participant. My junior year, I took fifth, and that drove to this day of becoming a state champion.”
Crager had been there before, but it was still special to the Cascade Christian senior. He built a commanding 9-2 lead before he pinned Tonasket’s Jorge Juarez in the third round.
“It feels really good to finish off my career on a high note,” Crager said.
Crager credited Cougars’ first-year head coach Chris Dicugno for helping him focus on fine-tuning his fundamentals.
“He (Chris) is a really good coach,” Crager said. “He helped me work on my technique. He is one of the best coaches I have ever had in high school.”
The Puyallup girls came in second as a team with 88 points. The Rogers boys finished seventh and Puyallup was ninth.
Other Puyallup wrestlers who placed at Mat Classic were: Haley Franich (106, second place), Brooklyn Bartelson (112, second), Jasmine Tuilaepa (190, fourth) and Joey Meyer (195, fourth).
Rogers wrestlers who placed were: Abby Humphreys (106, seventh), Beau Shatto (120, third), Troy Wilson (138, third) and Ty Wilson (145, seventh).
Emerald Ridge wrestlers who placed were ShaRaya Quinn (124, second), Kendra Maxfield (155, fifth) and Cesar Quintanilla (160, seventh).
Sumner wrestlers who earned a spot on the 2A podium were: Tanner Petcovic (113, sixth), Nathan James (120, sixth), Travis Filleau (126, third), Wyatt James (145, fourth) and Jed Schliesman (160, sixth).
Cascade Christian’s Damon Davis finished seventh at 220 pounds in the 1A classification.