LAKE STEVENS — Through six straight 4A Region 1 Tournament championship matches, Lake Stevens wrestling coach Brent Barnes didn’t move from his chair planted near the corner of Cavelero Mid High School’s maroon and gold wrestling mats.
Barnes couldn’t afford to. He was too busy coaching. Like an assembly line, Lake Stevens wrestlers entered championship matches one after another.
Saturday’s regional served as Lake Stevens’ appetizer before this week’s Mat Classic. Of the 23 Vikings who qualified for the regional tournament, 14 advanced to the Tacoma Dome and will try to capture Lake Stevens’ eighth state title in the last 12 years.
“There are always some good surprises and always some disappointments when you come to a thing like this,” Barnes said. “I think you get your hopes up you will have a really clean day. But 14 is about what I thought.”
Ten Vikings reached the finals, five won regional titles and Lake Stevens rolled to a regional championship with 310.5 points. Auburn Riverside’s 172 points was good for second place.
Glacier Peak finished in sixth with 81.5 points, Mariner placed eighth (55.5 points), Kamiak was ninth (55), Monroe finished 10th (47), Cascade was 11th (36) and Jackson, which placed 15th (6), rounded out area finishers.
Lake Stevens’ regional champions included Jacob Bennett (106 pounds), Kyle LaCoursiere (120), Cody LaCoursiere (132), Angelo Loera (160) and Malachi Lawrence (182). Of the five, Barnes said Kyle’s performance offered the most pleasant surprise. And even Kyle may not have expected him to bring home a title Saturday.
“I’m surprised with it, but I’m fine with it, though,” said Kyle, laughing. “I’ll take it. I thought I’d see (Glacier Peak’s Parker Hardy) in the finals for sure. I expected that. But I was a little surprised.”
Kyle had good reason to be. He’d lost to Hardy 4-3 earlier in the year during a dual meet, and last weekend he suffered a 3-0 defeat to the Grizzlies junior. This time, though, Kyle controlled the match start to finish. He led 2-0 entering the third period and tallied a three-point near fall before added on two more points for a 7-2 decision.
“I’ve always been right there, but I got another chance,” Kyle said. “He is just a really solid wrestler, and I just got that lucky break and took it and got here.”
Lawrence, who last year won a 170-pound state title, maintained his perfect season record with a mostly stress-free 182-pound regional championship.
The senior logged first-minute pins in his quarterfinal and semifinal matches before grinding out a 3-2 decision over Decatur’s Jacob Cassaday in the finals.
“It kind of proves that I’m still on top and what I can do,” said Lawrence of what it meant to win his region. “It really gave me a good eye-opener seeing that (Cassaday) was that good, and I am going to have some good matches at state. I’m really looking forward to wrestling him and (Mariner’s Levi) Weaver and all those guys, getting some good matches in.”
Bennett is returning to state for the third time after winning his first regional championship. He improved on last week’s performance with a win over Monroe’s Cole Lance, earning a 6-1 decision. Although he also beat Lance last week, he felt he wrestled a much cleaner match Saturday.
“I felt good this week and was definitely better than districts last week,” Bennett said. “Over the summer I worked a lot on my mind. Before I was more concerned on winning, losing, results, and not really focusing on performing to my best ability. That is definitely the biggest difference this year on top being a senior and being big for my weight.”
Loera earned a 10-1 major decision over Enumclaw’s Mathew Dion, and Cody pinned Thomas Jefferson’s Jorge Rojas-Chavira in 1 minute, 29 seconds.
Other Vikings who earned their state ticket were: Matthew Johnson (106), Markus Johnson (113), Clayton Brush (126), Jalon Lumar (126), Talon Tate (138), Isaac Gust (170), Jacob Vincent (195), Wyatt Hall (220) and Dylan Kylany (285).
But with all the success, there were some disappointments. Most notably was Julian Fryberg, who was hampered by an injury and ultimately was outside the top four who qualify for the Mat Classic.
“It hurts not to get Julian in there,” Barnes said. “He just couldn’t overcome the injury. He had a bad high ankle sprain.
“We had five champs. I was hoping for maybe six, but overall we are sitting in a good enough position to make a run at it next week.”
Mariner’s Giron earns elusive state bid
Mariner 152-pounder Joshua Giron didn’t need a title to leave the regional tournament satisfied. A mere fourth-place finish would have done just fine.
“I was a state alternate last year and the year before,” the senior said. “Not even becoming the regional champ or being a state champ or placing at state, just going to state was the whole deal for me.”
Goal accomplished. And for good measure, Giron set himself up with a great chance to medal after capturing the 152-pound title Saturday.
Giron opened with a quarterfinal tech fall. He followed with an 11-3 major decision in the semifinals before scoring a 7-2 decision over Auburn Riverside’s Arthur Troncoso in the title match.
“The first round I was feeling the guy out, which I shouldn’t be doing,” said Giron of his match with Troncoso. “Second round was when I knew I needed to do something, had to start pushing, and that’s what I did.”
Giron was one of three Marauders who qualified to wrestle at Mat Classic. Levi Weaver (182) placed third, and Alex Tran (285) finished in fourth place.
“To represent my school is a big deal,” said Giron, who was the only area non-Lake Stevens regional winner. “Regional champion, I don’t think we have had one in like 30 years.”
Glacier Peak trio reaches finals
Three Grizzlies had shots of claiming regional titles, but despite wrestling well enough to reach the finals, Hardy (120), Tim Mandzyuk (145) and Josh Erling (195) couldn’t land a top podium spot.
The trio will make up the entire Glacier Peak contingent at next week’s Mat Classic.
Hardy pinned his way to the finals before suffering a 7-2 loss, Mandzyuk also pinned his way to his regional final but ran into a tough matchup in Enumclaw’s Quinton Southcott and Erling logged two pins before suffering a 12-6 loss to Auburn’s Austin Riehl.
“I felt like obviously I could have finished better,” Erling said. “I fee like we did underperform today. We didn’t have any regional champions, but we are going to bounce back. Coach (Bryan) Mossburg has a great ability to rebuild us, so I think we are going to be great.”