(BRANDON HANSEN/Chewelah Independent)
Four Chewelah wrestlers in the state semifinals…
The most important part of the wrestling season happens tomorrow morning, where dreams of a championship are born and some are dashed. For Chewelah, a small school by most metrics, there will be a lot to cheer about tomorrow with four kids in the State 1B/2B semifinals at the Tacoma Dome in Tacoma.
170-pounder and two time state champion Kaden Krouse, state placer and 220-pound Cole Davis, freshman Clay Jeanneret and two-time state placer Justyce Acosta at 132 pounds, are still all in the running for a state title.
With three wrestlers on the Cougars winning a regional championship, Thursday morning’s slate was a bit light as those three received a first round bye. Freshman Clay Jeanneret, however, provided a highlight, pinning his first round foe, No. 8-ranked Anthony Michel of Kittitas in 5:11. In the second round, he toppled No. 2-ranked Keegan Kemmer of Illwaco with a pin 4:10 into the match. Kemmer then had Jeanneret in a cradle but the Cougar freshman broke out of it.
“I knew I had to get out of it or I was done, he made a mistake and I capitalized,” Jeanneret said.
Kemmer had placed third and fourth previously in the state tournament.
While Jeanneret’s older brother Jake had been to the Mat Classic in the dome several times and won a state title last season, this was the younger Clayton’s first foray into the frenzy that is the state tournament.
“It felt amazing,” Jeanneret said of wrestling in the dome for the first time. “It was hard to get the nerves out but after my first match it felt like just another day.”
Jeanneret is ranked No. 3 in the 145-pound rankings for the Bs. He will face No. 5-ranked Carsen Walton was a three-time state placer and had a commanding point lead on Jeanneret.
And any other day for the Cougar wrestling team is something incredible. While Jeanneret toppling two state-ranked wrestlers as freshman might be the lone bright spot for any other Class B wrestling team, it was just one bullet point on an impressive performance by the Cougars in the first day of the Mat Classic.
In the 220-pound bracket, Cole Davis pinned Tonasket’s Jesus Najara 5:41 into the match, then matched up against No. 1-ranked Hunter Olmstead of Concrete. Davis picked up a skillful 8-4 decision
“I approached the match with a clear mind and knew my ability was good enough to beat the kid,” Davis said.
Davis placed 4th last year and will face off against No. 6-ranked Trevon Johnson in the very talented 220-pound bracket. Every wrestler left in the bracket has placed at state and Kalama’s Sutton Moon placed first last year.
“State is the goal at the start of the season but once you get there you are always going to want to push for that gold,” Davis said.
In the 132-pound bracket, Chewelah’s Justyce Acosta, who has placed twice at state already, got a first round bye and then picked up a 9-6 decision over No. 2-ranked Reilan Bretz of Tonasket. It’s his second trip to the semifinals as a Cougar wrestler. He will face No. 6-ranked Damien Jager of Republic/Curlew in the semis tomorrow.
“It’s feels great to be back in the semifinals again,” Acosta said. “I just want to get past it now, and into the finals.”
Acosta, along with Davis and Jeanneret, was able to pick up victories over highly regarded opponents in the state.
“I just stay focused, and not let negative thoughts come to my head,” Acosta said. “The season has been great, I love my coaches and my teammates.”
Last but not least in the 170-pound bracket, Chewelah’s Kaden Krouse – ranked No. 1 in the state – only had to wrestle once and made the most of it by pinning No. 3-ranked Colby Guzman of Oroville in 2:13. He will now face No. 5 ranked Paul Jones of Kittitas in the semifinals.
“Usually wrestling my first match after a bye makes me kinda slow but today I just focused on getting as warmed as I could before I went out,” Krouse said. “I enjoy having the bye format because it allows me to relax a little more for my other three matches and gets me better prepared mentally.”
Also wrestling in the state tournament, Ezekiel Crocket (138) and Cole Piepgras (160) are eliminated. In the girls bracket, 120-pound Kristen Erickson won a 2-1 decision in the consolation bracket but fell 11-9 in the consolation quarterfinals.
“I feel like this season flew by but it’s been a great season for the boys and I, being able to get another district title as a team and get 2nd at regionals is very exciting,” Krouse said. “I am very proud of the way our team performed for the first day. It’s been awhile since Chewelah has put four kids in the semi-finals and I’m pumped to see how we will all turn out tomorrow.”
ALSO AROUND NE WASHINGTON
There are plenty of other NE Washington wrestlers that are doing well. In the 1B/2B ranks, Selkirk’s Bert Burnett is in the semifinals for the 160-pound bracket, while Porter Carmen is in the 126-pound consolation bracket and Sven Rasmussen in the 170-pound consolation bracket.
Springdale has two wrestlers in the semifinals, 285-pound Nicholas Schurger and 120-pound Matthew Hess. Michael Small is alive in the consolation bracket at 145-pounds.
In the 1A ranks, Colville has three wrestlers in the semis: Aiden Medrano at 113 pounds, Logan Hydorn at 120 pounds and Takoda Morrison at 145 pounds. 132-pound Strann Seeman, 182-pound Tanner Goff and 285-pound Justin Finley are still alive in the consolation bracket.