Wrestlers to Watch
Sr., 145, Edmonds-Woodway
Vulliet has been working to have a successful senior year for some time. The Edmonds-Woodway wrestler, who has been on the mat since he was 6 years old, went to five wrestling camps last summer in order to get physically and mentally prepared for the grind of his final high school season.
It seems to have worked. Vulliet, who started the year at 160 pounds, placed second at regionals at 145. He is ranked fourth in 4A coming into the Mat Classic after finishing fifth at 132 pounds last season.
"I think we always try and take it one match at a time," Warriors head coach Brian Alfi said. "But knowing Nathan's caliber and some of the name's in there, Nathan's definitely got a chance at it. He should be in there with a shot at a championship."
The senior captain, who's older brother Andrew placed at state three times for Edmonds-Woodway, is a great leader and example for the Warriors, Alfi said.
"What was really nice about having Nathan in the room is he's the hardest-working kid, the most humble and most respectful," Alfi said. "And the team took on all his qualities. Coming to practice was a joy. It was like we had 55 Nathans in the room."
Jr., 160, Marysville Pilchuck
The Marysville Pilchuck junior – like MP teammate Drew Hatch – is undefeated this season, posting a 33-0 record. After placing second at state at 145 pounds last year, Page is the No. 2-ranked wrestler in the 3A 160-pound weight class by the website Washington Wrestling Report.
"He's been a huge anchor to our team," Marysville Pilchuck head coach Craig Iversen said. "Having guys who have seen success at the state level shows guys it can happen out of our room and we can do it at state level."
The 160-pound weight class is what Iversen calls "a very loaded situation." Still, the coach said, Page has the skills to make another deep run at Mat Classic.
"We sure think he's right there to take a shot at the title," Iversen said of Page, who is also a running back for the Tomahawks' football team. "I think anytime you're in the top four it could happen. (You) need a break or two to go your way, but we sure think he has the tools to do it."
Sr., 195, Meadowdale
At 195 pounds, Ball is the favorite to bring home the 3A state championship. He placed fourth in last year's Mat Classic, but is the highest returning finisher in his weight class.
Ball earned his trip to state with a regional championship this past weekend, defeating the No. 3 wrestler in the state, Hanford's Will Bishop. After two pins to get into the final, Ball had his work cut out for him with Bishop, but was able to claw out a 4-2 decision.
The senior comes into the Mat Classic with a 31-1 record, with 23 of his victories by pin. He has been ranked No. 1 in his weight class all season. Ball's toughest competition might come from another Wesco wrestler, Stanwood's Foster Wade. Wade placed second last year at 195 pounds for Archbishop Murphy in the 2A classification and comes into state ranked second behind Ball.
"The hope of all hope is that they meet in the finals," Meadowdale head coach Brian Boardman said. "It would be nice to have a Stanwood kid and a Meadowdale finishing off in state at the very end. That's what we'd like to see."
After two years of being on the podium, Ball has his sights set on the ultimate prize to cap off his high school career.
"It'd be nice to see the total outcome of everything he's put into it," Boardman said. "Second place for most wrestlers at state would be awesome, but for the time he's put in, it's just not good enough. He won't be satisfied until he's on the top of the podium."
Sr., 220, Darrington
At last year's Mat Classic, the Loggers wrestler lost in the 220-pound championship to Austin Reisdor. This year, McKenzie, wrestling in the same weight class, is determined to come home with a state title.
"He's been really focused this year," Darrington assistant coach Cory Ross said. "His whole body has changed since last year when he was kind of a pudgy kid. Now he's a beast."
McKenzie didn't have much trouble in the regional tournament last weekend. In fact, because of a bye and a disqualification, he didn't even break a sweat until the final, where he pinned Raymond's James Hamilton in 1 minute, 45 seconds. Ranked No. 1 in the state, McKenzie (21-4) is the favorite going into state. But he'll have some stiff competition from second-ranked Joey Dickinson of Selkirk, who is in the same side of the bracket as McKenzie, and third-ranked Evan Lord of Colfax.
Sr., 285, Lakewood
Nelson, a 285-pound senior, comes into Mat Classic with the potential to make noise, but will have his work cut out for him. He placed seventh in his weight class a year ago, but six of the top eight finishers return. One of those returnees is West Valley's Ricky Miller, who faces Nelson in his first match today. Miller is ranked No. 4 in the state, two spots higher than Nelson. Miller finished third at last year's Mat Classic.
Nelson and Miller are on the opposite side of the bracket from Fife's Monike Sarte, who won the state championship in 2013 and is ranked No. 1 coming into this weekend's Mat Classic.
Nelson's bracket is loaded with tough competition and Lakewood head coach Tom O'Hara said Nelson has to be wary of everyone.
"A lot of times at the state tournament it's not about the wrestler," O'Hara said. "It's about who can handle the pressure, who can do the best in those conditions. Everything comes into factor. Anything can happen."
Sr., 112, Granite Falls
The senior 112-pounder comes into the Mat Classic with a record of 19-9 and coming off a regional championship. Five of her nine losses were against boys and just one of her losses was to a wrestler she could potentially face this weekend, freshman Jasmine Pleasants from Thomas Jefferson High School. Should both wrestlers continue to advance, the two would meet in the semifinals.
Wrestling at 106 pounds last season Crawford finished seventh at the Mat Classic and is looking to improve on that performance as a senior.
“She’s pumped and ready to go,” Granite Falls head coach Tony Helgeson said. “It’s tough to pull out a championship. Everything has got to be aligned. You’ve got to have a good day, be healthy, your mind-frame has got to be right and you’ve got to be hitting your moves right.”
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