At all of the Royals' wrestling practices, the team is forced to face a wall that has the names of all of the school's previous state champions whenever it does any extra conditioning.
Senior Hunter Lord's name isn't on that list — yet.
Lord, a senior 160-pounder, advanced to today's 4A state semifinals with victories over Puyallup's Tucker Hanson and Moses Lake's Hudson Mauseth on Friday.
"I think that motivates him," Lynnwood head coach Trace Regan said. "He wants his (name) on that wall."
It took Lord until the third period in both matches, but he pinned both opponents — Hanson in 5:55 and Mauseth in 4:57. Lord said his two pins taught him a valuable lesson he plans to use today as we goes after his first state championship.
"I've just got to grind my opponents down," he said. "I've known that all year, but it's really shown today. Once I grind them down, they'll break."
The No. 1-ranked Lord is the highest returning finisher from last year's Mat Classic, thus making him the favorite to leave with a state championship. The ranking doesn't seem to bother Lord, who rarely to ever speaks of it.
"He's handled it really well," Regan said. "I've coached a lot of guys that have been ranked number one or ranked really high. A lot of times it's the kiss of death. Hunter's handled it like it's no big deal. I don't think he's every mentioned it once the entire season. If it ever did come into conversation, it's usually someone else bringing it up."
Lord came into the Mat Classic with a 39-2 record. Just one of those losses came to a wrestler in his own classification, Kamiak's David Bikoev. The loss got Lord's attention. He faced Bikoev two more times throughout the season winning both matches.
"Ever since his loss to David, he comes in really super-focused," Regan said. "We sent him to some pretty high-profile tournaments this year and he's learned some lessons. He's either won the championship or lost when he shouldn't have."
Bikoev and Lord could have met a fourth time in the state championship, but Bikoev lost 9-2 to Central Valley's David Shepard in Friday's quarterfinals. Lord is scheduled to face Tahoma's Tucker Mjelde today at 10:50 a.m. in the semifinals. Should he advance to the championship he would face either Shepard or Logan Johnson from Lake Stevens.
None of that information interests Lord.
"I never look at the brackets," he said. "Coach tells me when I wrestle and what night I wrestle on because I don't care who I wrestle. I just want to go out there, bang and wrestle the way I know how to wrestle and dominate kids."
Lord also plays football for the Royals, something that keeps his wrestling coach happy. Regan said he is a "firm believer" that kids should play sports year round. Football helps Lord prepare for they physicality of wrestling, but also keeps him in shape. Lord has been lifting weights with the football team since he was a freshman.
"I've been getting in that extra conditioning," Lord said. "Football has helped me a lot in wrestling. It's just made me a tougher person and an all-around better wrestler."
Lord used that toughness to outmuscle both of his opponents on Friday.
"He's really strong," Regan said. "He's built really well, but he's stronger than what he looks and his technique is really good. When he gets in these positions, the move is really pretty tight on the guy. I've wrestled him in practice and when he gets a move on me it's a legit, 'Oh my god, this is an alligator clamping down on me.'"
Lord has improved in each of his high-school wrestling seasons. With one more good day today, he can cap off his career with a state championship and stop staring at the other names on the wall.
"I'm so focused, I'm freaking myself out because of how bad I want this," Lord said.
Aaron Lommers covers prep sports for The Herald. Follow him on twitter @aaronlommers and contact him at email@example.com.
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