Then the Vikings took over.
In a battle of the top two teams in the Wesco 4A North, the Panthers won the first, last and one match in between as Lake Stevens defeated Snohomish 51-12 to win the meet and clinch the league title.
"We knew we were going to have to wrestle pretty flawless to come out on top (against Lake Stevens)," Snohomish head coach Rob Zabel said.
Vikings' head coach Brent Barnes said that his team wasn't especially nervous for Tuesday's meet, even with the Wesco 4A North title on the line.
"We work hard so we don't really have to be nervous," Barnes said. "When you work hard, you take that onto the mat."
On senior night, four Lake Stevens seniors won their matches to help the Vikings pad their score.
After Snohomish senior Jacob Proffit won a 5-1 decision at the 152-pound match in the opening bout of the night, Vikings' senior Blake Sander responded with a 10-1 major decision over Tanner Perry, another senior, at 160-pounds to put Lake Stevens up 4-3.
The Vikings didn't trail the rest of the way.
"Our seniors really stepped up," Barnes said. "Blake Sander won a good match against a senior. That was a huge match. Two great kids. ... That was fun to see."
Shaquille Reed (220 pounds), Brandon Johnson (285 pounds) and Jesse Peterson (138 pounds) were the other Lake Stevens' seniors to win their respective matches.
They weren't the only ones. The Vikings (4-0 league, 14-4 overall) won 11 of the 14 matches with three pins, two technical falls (which occurs when a wrestler is up by 15 points), two major decisions, three decisions and a forfeit due to a Snohomish injury.
Barnes wasn't sure how many consecutive Wesco North titles this was for Lake Stevens, but he was proud of another streak the Vikings kept going.
"We really aren't in the counting mode just yet (for league titles)," Barnes said. "But I can tell you, the last time we lost in this gym most of these wrestlers were not even born yet."
Peterson's bout was the closest match of the day, with him grappling to a 5-4 decision over Snohomish senior Greg Eagle.
A young Viking, sophomore Alex Rodorigo, clinched the Lake Stevens victory with a 13-0 major decision in the 120-pound meet. Freshman Jake Douglas followed that up with a 12-6 win in the 126-pound bout that was tied at 3-3 going into the third and final period.
"We want to be consistent with how we practice, wrestle and perform," Barnes said. "I think they went out and did that."
The Proffits bookended the meet with wins for Snohomish (2-1, 8-2). Jacob Proffit, the senior, started the night with a 5-1 decision at 152-pounds. Sophomore Joseph Proffit (145-pounds) closed it out with an 8-5 decision.
"(The Proffits) are great kids. They do everything you ask of them," Zabel said. "I've got a whole team full of great kids."
The Panthers' other victory came from Tristen Baus, who pinned his opponent in the 195-pound battle in 1 minute, 20 seconds.
"It's a good rivalry," Barnes said of Vikings'-Snohomish showdowns. "It's always a match we have to step up for."
Zabel said that he hopes his team can use Tuesday's meet as motivation going forward as the Panthers prepare for the district tournament Feb. 1-2.
"I don't think this is something you forget about," Zabel said. "This is something we use as a reminder that we've come a long ways, but still have a ways to go.
"... Older, wiser coaches probably say, 'This is one you've got to put behind you,'" Zabel continued. "I don't think we put this behind us. I think we use it as a reminder."
At Lake Stevens High School
152–Jacob Proffit (S) dec. Bryan Eason, 5-1; 160–Blake Sander (LS) maj. dec. Tanner Perry, 10-1; 170–Logan Johnson (LS) tech. fall over Kodiak Landis, 15-0; 182–Cody Vigoren (LS) pinned Justin Kearney, 5:30; 195–Tristen Baus (S) pinned Mason Beaver, 1:20; 220–Shaquille Reed (LS) pinned Alex Fairhurst, 1:08; 285–Brandon Johnson (LS) won by forfeit; 106–AJ Crew (LS) tech. fall over Wyatt Butler, 15-0; 113–Michael Soler (LS) pinned Brad Hodkinson, 1:32; 120–Alex Rodorigo (LS) maj. dec. Conner Snow, 13-0; 126–Jake Douglas (LS) dec. Noah Bomar, 12-6; 132–Zach Cunningham (LS) dec. Keaton Mills 8-2; 138–Jesse Peterson (LS) dec. Greg Eagle, 5-4; 145–Joseph Proffit (S) dec. Jack LeBlanc, 8-5. Records–Snohomish 2-1 league, 8-2 overall. Lake Stevens 4-0, 14-4.
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