Every year in February, the best high school wrestlers in the state gather in the Tacoma Dome for a final clash of the Titans. Half return home with medals significant of their strength, skills, and stamina. The other half returns empty-handed.
For seniors, it is their last opportunity to strut their stuff. For underclassmen, it is a chance to test their raw skills against every combatant they meet on the mat.
The Chewelah Cougars sent five wrestlers to this year’s Tacoma Dome extravaganza. Three returned from Mat Classic XXIV with a state medal. Two came home with a determination to bring home a medal next year.
Although the lone senior of this group was a state tournament medalist again this year, the number engraved on the back of the award did not indicate the finish he had high expectations to achieve.
Dalton Mudgett placed seventh in the 145-pound weight division at the tournament. He won three of his five bouts in the Tacoma Dome, pinning one opponent and defeating the other two by decision.
After placing fourth last year, Mudgett had hoped to wrestle in this year’s championship finals. His aspiration vaporized on Friday afternoon’s quarterfinals when he lost a 3-2 decision to Tenino’s Beau Gore.
The narrow one-point loss dropped Mudgett into the consolation bracket, where he won two of three bouts on Saturday to place seventh. He pinned Juan Garcia from Chelan and defeated Tyler Langford from Tenino by a 3-1 score.
Russell Smith and Adam Collins, both juniors, highlighted their first competition in the Tacoma Dome with an appearance on the awards stand. Smith placed fifth in the 152-pound weight division. Collins finished seventh in the 170-pound weight bracket. They won three of their five bouts at this year’s Mat Classic and each brought home a state medal to prove it.
Smith won his first two bouts on Friday, pinning Cristan Gonzalez from Elma and then edging Orting’s Omar Isiordia by a 12-10 score. However, two losses on Saturday morning sent Smith to a final battle with Andrew Ledesma from Stevenson. He defeated Ledesma by an 11-8 score to secure his fifth place finish.
Collins had to battle back from a loss in his opening bout of the tournament. After that, he won three out of four bouts to finish seventh in the 170-pound weight division. He pinned Dougherty Dalton from Hoquiam, defeated Dustin Crabtree from Riverside with a 12-0 major decision, and then scored a 13-1 major decision over Matt Maddux from Stevenson.
All three had to struggle through tough losses and battle their way back into Saturday’s medal round. And, all three won their final bout.
A pair of Cougar freshmen, Ian Cox and Josh Hanley, competed in this year’s state tournament. Cox was the only one of the two to win a bout, but both got valuable experience from their encounters.
After losing his first bout on Friday, Cox pinned Addison Harper from Port Townsend in the third round. He then lost a close 3-1 decision in his final appearance on the mat.
It is most unusual for a ninth grader to compete in the state 195-pound bracket. This is an exclusive club where the muscle men meet. Yet, somehow, Cougar freshman Josh Hanley crashed their private party. He then had to pay the price.
Hanley lost to Goldendale’s Kurt Wilkins and then to Jamison Rice from Orting.
However, the experience of getting to the state tournament provided a big step into the future for both Cougar freshmen who will have three more opportunities to earn state wrestling hardware.
Mat Classic XXIV
145 – Dalton Mudgett: defeated Tyler Langford (Tenino), 10-5; lost to Beau Gore (Orting), 3-2; pinned Juan Garcia (Chelan), third round; lost to Derek Fruin (Onalaska), 10-2; defeated Tyler Langford (Tenino), 3-1; placed seventh.
152 – Russell Smith: pinned Cristan Gonzalez (Elma), second round; defeated Omar Isiordia (Granger), 12-10; lost to Dalton Evanger (Orting), pin; lost to Favian Ruiz (Mabton), 5-2; defeated Andrew Ledesma (Stevenson), 11-8; placed fifth.
132 – Ian Cox: lost to Dalton Gonzalez (Castle Rock), 11-2; pinned Addison Harper (Port Townsend), third round; lost to Cortez Hernandez (Zillah), 3-1; eliminated.
170 – Adam Collins: lost to Kevin Zettel (Cascade Christian), 12-3; pinned Dougherty Dalton (Hoquiam), third round; defeated Dustin Crabtree (Riverside), 12-0 major decision; lost to Yarik Tyutyunnik (Riverview), 9-6; defeated Matt Maddux (Stevenson), 13-1; placed seventh.
195 – Josh Hanley: lost to Kurt Wilkins (Goldendale), pin; lost to Jamison Rice (Orting) pin; eliminated.
Team Scores: Orting 166, Chelan 135, Zillah 131, Granger 117, Castle Rock 86, Colville 86, Royal 82, Riverside 76, Stevenson 76, Kiona-Benton 76, Lakeside 66, Goldendale 56, Omak 52, Highland 40, Connell 37, Ridgefield 34, Elma 33, Vashon Island 33, Montesano 32, Riverview 30, Cascade Christian 28, Chewelah 27, Freeman 25, LaCenter 24, Tonasket 22, Mabton 21, Onalaska 21, Nooksack Valley 19, Naches Valley 15, Kalama 14, Forks 13, Meridian 12, Columbia-Burbank 12, Rochester 11, Toledo 10, Wahluke 9, Cashmere 7, Ilwaco 3, Tenino 3, Cle Elum 2, Bellevue Christian 2, Hoquiam 0, Okanogan 0, Port Townsend 0, White Salmon 0, Friday Harbor 0.
By Geno Ludwig
The Independent Staff