By Jon Saperstein Herald Writer
EVERETT — The 195-pound final at the 4A regional wrestling tournament held at Cavelero Mid High School Saturday looked to be one of the best competitive matches of the day when the pairings were set.
Undefeated Blake McPherson from Arlington faced Union’s Bryson Page, also unbeaten. Both are seniors ranked in the top six for their weight class by Washington Wrestling Report.
It looked competitive until McPherson literally threw Page around like a tackling dummy on the way to a 20-10 destruction of Page, whose team captured the overall title with a convincing 200 points — 30.5 better than second-place Lake Stevens.
The crowd in the stands and around the championship mat stood with jaws agape as McPherson got to work. Multiple times he ran under Page, picked him up into the air and slammed him to the mat.
“That just my thing I guess,” McPherson said. “I’ve always been able to lift people. I don’t know why other people aren’t doing it. A lot of power cleans at the school, that’s basically what that is. Just popping your hips.”
Most wrestlers don’t do it because they don’t have the physique that McPherson has chiseled after recovering from a 2010 injury that forced him to have a complete knee reconstruction. Arlington volunteer assistant coach Scott Ames, who works a lot with the senior that is headed to Army on a football and track scholarship in the fall, doesn’t mince words when describing McPherson.
“I may go the rest of my life and never have the privilege of working with a kid like that,” Ames said.
Although McPherson’s top four finish already had sewed up a trip to next weekend’s Mat Classic in the Tacoma Dome, he still had a point to prove in his weight class final.
“Coach Ames is always right in my face telling me I’m the best athlete in here and he’s got me believing it,” McPherson said. “We aren’t out here to win. He wants me to dominate. So, I’m not going to just win. I go to prove a point to everybody in the stands.”
McPherson proved his point to those watching Saturday, but he still is only ranked No. 3 in the state behind two wrestlers that placed in the Top 5 at Mat Classic in 2011. Having never wrestled in the Tacoma Dome, he’s fine not being ranked No. 1 — for now.
“I haven’t wrestled the No. 1 and 2 guys, so I don’t know if I’m better than them,” McPherson said. “I won’t be there until I beat one of those guys.”
On the team side of things, it was a day of redemption for Lake Stevens, which finished second overall with 169.5 points — 34.5 points ahead of Snohomish in fourth.
Snohomish upset Lake Stevens a week ago to take the first district crown away from the Vikings since 1999. The Vikings had four wrestlers take first in the district meet and all four pushed through to win Saturday’s regional as well. Snohomish had three district winners, but only Ammon Morrill (160 pounds) won his class at regionals, pinning Evergreen’s Anthony Thomas.
“Our kids bounced back after a rough weekend last weekend,” Lake Stevens coach Brent Barnes said. “I’m proud of the way that they competed.”
Barnes especially recognized a pair of seniors for advancing to this year’s state tournament: Austin Gershmel (145) and Ryan Olliges (182). Both were alternates to state a year ago based on fifth-place finishes in regionals.
On Saturday, Olliges pinned Heritage’s Devin Alder, who upset Snohomish’s Peter St. Marie in the quarterfinals. St. Marie barely lost to Olliges last week, but finished fourth Saturday.
Olliges was proud of how his team rebounded from losing to Snohomish last week. Before the first day of the regional tourney, two highly ranked Vikings didn’t make weight, ending their seasons. Though those losses were a big of a shock at the time, the team has moved on.
“We got past the two people that missed weight and we set a goal for this weekend to come back … and wrestle tough,” Olliges said. “We were able to wrestle pretty tough, but I still think we could have done better.”
The standards are high at Lake Stevens for the defending state champs and Barnes is happy to take seven Vikings to Mat Classic to defend their title.
“For sure we are going to go and compete,” Barnes said. “We are going to see what happens. We’ll worry about ourselves and not worry about anyone else and see if we can do some damage.”
For Snohomish, a fourth-place finish behind Evergreen (Vancouver) was a bit of a bucket of cold water on the jubilation of last week’s upset win.
“I think that maybe I didn’t do a very good job this week of making sure that we keep our eye on the big goals,” Snohomish coach Rob Zabel said. “Maybe we felt too good about the things we accomplished last week. Not to underestimate those or downplay it at all, because I’m really proud of the kids, but it just felt like our ‘A’ game wasn’t here today and that’s really on me. That’s the hardest part about it.”
Despite a that disappointment, Snohomish still advances seven wrestlers — the same as the Vikings — to state.
Other local champions Saturday included Edmonds-Woodway’s brother duo of Noah (106 pounds) and Matthew Cuzzetto (145).
At Cavalero Mid-High School
Team scores—Union 200; Lake Stevens 169.5; Evergreen (Vancouver) 138; Snohomish 135; Edmonds-Woodway 95; Marysville Pilchuck 71; Arlington 65; Stanwood 57; Battle Ground 51; Heritage 46; Kamiak 43.5; Cascade 24.5; Skyview 24; Mariner 24; Jackson 0; Monroe 0
Individual results— 106—1. Noah Cuzzetto (EW), 2. David Garcia (K), 4. Alex Rodorigo (LS), 5. Tyler Headland (LS); 113—2. Joshua Heitzman (K), 3. Gino Obregon (Sno.), 5. Jorge Escobedo (C); 120—2. Steven Speer (Sno.), 3. Josh Langstaff (Stan.), 5. Ryan Daurie (MP); 126—1. Eric Soler (LS), 2. Killian Page (MP), 4. Connor Gonzales (A), 5. Casey Walkley (LS); 132—2. Christian Mendoza (MP), 3. Scotty Bardell (A), 4. Greg Eagle (Sno.), 5. Mick Majors (LS); 138—1. Kinsey Johnson (LS), 4. Zac Duncan (C), 5. Andrew Villalobos (MP); 145—1. Matthew Cuzzetto (EW), 2. Max Welsh (Mar.), 4. Austin Gershmel (LS), 5. Drew Hatch (MP); 152—2. Zach Schut (Stan.), 5. Collin Natterstad (EW); 160—1. Ammon Morrill (Sno.), 4. Shawn Berg (A); 170—2. Zach Perez (EW), 3. Kyle Bennett (Stan.), 5. Tyler Kunard (K); 182—1. Ryan Olliges (LS), 3. Chris Herbert (MP), 4. Peter St. Marie (Sno.), 5. Justin Kearney (Sno.); 195—1. Blake McPherson (A), 3. Nathan Proffit (Sno.), 5. Kris Delaney (EW); 220—3. Luke Reinhard (Sno.), 4. Shaq Reed (LS), 5. Carlos Vilchis (Stan.); 285—1. Brandon Johnson (LS), 3. George Johanson (EW).