(By Geno Ludwig/Chewelah Indpendent)
Krouse first Chewelah wrestler to win title since Will Peters in 2011…
It is difficult for freshmen to be successful in the upper weight classes at the state tournament. These are the brackets where the veteran juniors and seniors lurk. The ones who have fought in the Tacoma Dome before. The ones who already have state wrestling medals hanging on their bedroom walls. The ones who are confident that they will be standing on the awards podium at the end of the big show.
Only down in the lower weights do the young, wide-eyed freshmen wrestling rookies usually find victory at the state finale as 106-pounders or 113-pounders before they grow to become heavier middle weight sophomores the following year.
Chewelah 170-pounder Kaden Krouse defied all the odds against him last Saturday night when he stood atop the awards stand with a state championship medal around his neck. The Cougar freshman defeated Riverside’s Sammy DesRoches 7-4 to earn the title of state champion. The triumph also avenged a 3-1 loss to DesRoches in the finals of the regional tournament the previous weekend.
To win a state championship, a wrestler must win all four of his bouts, with each new opponent usually being stronger and better-skilled.
Krouse initiated his assent to the top of the awards stand on Friday by pinning Jekoby Tuttle from Connell with 47 seconds remaining in the second round. Later that day, he outscored Isaac Vargas from Zillah 7-4 in the quarterfinals.
In Saturday morning’s semifinal round, Krouse clobbered Cody Tardanico from Freeman 13-1 to earn a major decision that advanced him to the championship finals to again face DesRoches.
“I would say that extreme preparation went into getting ready for this tournament on Kaden’s part,” said Coach Tim Slater. “His attitude and determination were much more intense than at regionals the week before. It was an entirely a different vibe, and it showed throughout the tournament.”
In the opening round against DesRoches, Krouse scored two takedowns and yielded an escape to take a 4-1 lead. He scored an escape and a takedown in the second round, while giving DesRoches another escape to lift his lead to 7-2. Then, in the final round, Krouse kept control from the top position until near the end of the match when he allowed another escape, along with a penalty point for locking hands. That concluded the scoring with Krouse claiming the state championship by a 7-4 final score.
Justyce Acosta was another Cougar freshman who brought home a state medal, winning three of his five matches and placing seventh in the 113-pound weight division. Acosta goose-egged Aaron Lano from Montesano 7-0 in his opening bout on Friday. In his second trip to the mat, he lost a 7-0 decision to Dominic Martinez from Royal City, who eventually placed second in the tournament.
Battling through the consolation bracket, Acosta pinned Andrew Aposhyan from South Whidbey Island midway through the third round, and that guaranteed him a state medal. However, in his next appearance on the mat, he lost a close 6-4 decision to Dawson Husted from Zillah. That loss dropped Acosta into the battle for seventh and eighth places, where he scored a 19-9 major decision over Devon Gantt from Naches Valley to bring home the seventh-place medal in his first trip to the Tacoma Dome.
“Justyce was amazing!” said Slater. “On the second day, he battled back from a 7-0 loss that normally would have devastated a young freshman, but not Justyce. He stayed mentally tough and won the match he needed to win to get into the medal round.”
Jake Jeanneret also stood on the awards podium in the Tacoma Dome, having earned an eighth-place medal in his first appearance in the state tournament. The sophomore 170-pounder won two key matches that eventually propelled him into Saturday’s medal round. Most importantly, he won his first bout of the tournament, defeating Elijah Gonsalez from Warden by a 4-2 score. Then, that evening, he edged Jekoby Tuttle from Connell by a narrow 5-4 decision to achieve the medal round. Jeanneret was defeated in his last excursion to the mat, but he now owns one of only eight medals awarded in his weight division at this year’s state tournament.
“Jake wrestled in the tougher side of the 170-pound bracket,” said Slater, “and he ran into some tougher opponents than Kaden did, especially on the second day of the tournament. But, Jake wrestled hard in every match. He earned that medal.”
Wade Baker also wrestled in the state tournament, but the Cougar 285-pounder did not make it to the medal round this year.
“Wade battled hard in both of his matches, said Slater. “But, unfortunately, he did not make it to the medal round.”
With only one graduating senior this spring, the Cougar wrestling team should be even stronger next year. This will be even more evident when they make the move into the class-2B league. Still, there will be vacancies to be filled in the lineup to avoid forfeits that were so detrimental in this year’s league campaign.
As expected, the Northeast A League dominated the tournament. Deer Park won the team championship, with Colville placing second and Freeman coming in third. Seven NEA League teams finished in the top 20 schools out of the 43 competing. Only Newport was absent.