By Jon Saperstein Herald Writer
DUVALL — It took until the final period of the final bout at the 2A Region 1 wrestling tournament but the Cascade Conference got its champion.
Archbishop Murphy’s Cam Wade defeated Sehome’s Justin Santos 5-3 to capture the 145-pound title in the most anticipated bout of the night.
“It didn’t disappoint,” Murphy coach Blaine Smith said.
It was the Wildcat junior’s third trip to the finals and second title in as many years at the regional. He knew going in that he would have an edge in a long bout due to his above-and-beyond conditioning regimen that features a 3-mile run.
“My plan was to focus on my conditioning and let that be a factor because I knew he’d be gassed by the third period,” Wade said. “He only has a few moves so I knew that if I could defend those. I’d know how to beat him.”
The idea to run came from his uncle Alan Bridgeman, a two-time state champion for Burlington-Edison in the early 1980s.
“I’ve been gassed earlier this year,” Wade said. “He told me to start running everyday after practice.”
After falling behind 1-0 after two periods, Wade went to work on Santos, who was a Northwest Conference champion and state-runner up a year ago. Wade went on the offensive in the final period, but his final points were scored on a reversal that sent the small but vocal Wildcat contingent into a frenzy.
Not only did Bridgeman get to see his nephew increase his season record to 31-0 and take the tournament’s MVP award but he got to watch his alma mater crush the field with 225 team points — 77 more than second-place Blaine.
Other than Wade’s triumph, it was overall a disappointing day for fans of the Cascade Conference. Cedarcrest, which was awarded hosting duties after remodeling its gym, finished in sixth place to lead all Cascade Conference teams.
The Red Wolves dominated last week’s sub-regional with their depth, but that depth turned into individual fifth-place (state alternate) finishes at the regional. Cedarcrest had seven wrestlers finish fifth and just three advanced to state, including Dalton Webb (140 pounds) and Tim Hagreen (189 pounds), who finished the day with wins in their respective third-place bouts.
“We moved a couple guys on to state,” Cedarcrest coach Eric Pedeferri said. “That’s good. That’s the whole goal.”
Ten Red Wolf wrestlers will be taking the long bus trip to the Tacoma Dome for the Mat Classic Feb. 19-20 but most of them will be watching and Pedeferri couldn’t help but think about some missed opportunities.
“In that first round they’ve got to come out and wrestle like an animal,” Pedeferri said. I think we could have done better at that. We talked a lot about coming through the back door (the loser’s bracket). If you lose you have to come right back and win the next one. That’s tough to do with young kids. They don’t realize how mentally tough it is.”
The Red Wolves are young; seven of 10 wrestlers are either freshman or sophomores and that seemed to be a common theme among all the Cascade Conference teams.
Murphy finished 10th overall and its only experienced wrestlers, Wade and Jeremy Wattam (112-pounds), made the finals.
Wattam, the senior captain of the Wildcats, took a 2-0 advantage in his championship but was pinned by Burlington’s Enrique Medina, dropping Wattam’s career record against Medina to 1-3 all time.
Wattam will head back to state but is looking for his first medal. If he gets it, then he will be one of the few Cascade Conference wrestlers standing on the podium in Tacoma. After Saturday only eight have a chance.
“It feels good to know that two of us made it to the finals but I sure would have like to see more cascade conference guys,” Wattam said.
At Cedarcrest H.S.
Team scores—Burlington Edison 225, Blaine 148, Bellingham 135.5, Squalicum 135, Lynden 100, Cedarcrest 99, Mt. Baker 92, Sehome 56, Anacortes 50, Archbishop Murphy 49, Sultan 44, Granite Falls 29, South Whidbey 6, Lakewood 5.
Cascade Conference results
112—Enrique Medina (Bur) pinned Jeremy Wattam (Murphy), 2:43; 145—Cam Wade (Murphy) dec. Justin Santos (Seh), 5-3.
103—Chris Jenkins (GF) pinned Jake Knight (Bell), 2:24; 112—Ren Bishop (Squal) pinned Steven Leverett (Sul), 2:37; 119—Greg Debruin (Lyn) dec. Garrett Varnell (Sul), 6-2; 140—Dalton Webb (Ced) dec. Garrett Mullett (Bell), 6-0; 145—Juan Canales (Burl) pinned Cody Paxman (Ced), 1:34; 189—Tim Hagreen (CC) dec Joey Peach (Seh), 4-2.