TACOMA — The Lake Stevens wrestling team is no stranger to winning state championships, that’s why it was a shock to see them come in second at last weekend’s regional championships.
Friday though, the Vikings were back to their old tricks.
Lake Stevens advanced eight of its 11 wrestlers to the quarterfinals and six of those eight advanced to today’s semifinals. At the day’s end, the Vikings were in first place with 70 points, 14.5 points ahead of Tahoma and in striking distance of the state championship for what would be a second consecutive season and the third time in four years.
“You never get used to winning state championships,” Lake Stevens head coach Brent Barnes said. “Each year is different and you can’t help but get excited just as much for the next year.”
Michael Soler (113 pounds), Tyler Headland (113), Alex Rodorigo (120), Garrett Gershmel (120), Jake Douglas (126), Noah Cuzzetto (132), Logan Johnson (160) and Cody Vigoren (195) all won their opening-round matches. Soler, Rodorigo, Douglas, Cuzzetto, Johnson and Vigoren went on to win in the quarterfinals.
“We started out the morning with a great round and then we just followed it up (in the) evening,” Barnes said. “You couldn’t ask for more than (having) six guys in the semis, that’s great. We got some pins too, which always helps.”
Soler, the defending state champion at 106 pounds, started slow in his quarterfinal match against Davis’ Ramiro Ortiz, but came on strong in the second period and scored a pin for the Vikings with 0.3 seconds remaining.
“I was watching the clock as I was pinning him,” Soler said. “I knew I would have to thrust my hips to try to get it. I didn’t think I was going to get it, but it’s cool I did. It helped the team out.”
It’s bonus points like those that come along with Soler’s pin and those Cuzzetto earned by earning a major decision in the final seconds of his victory over Skyline’s Tristan Steciw with a two-point takedown that have the Vikings in position to win yet another state title.
“We have to bonus points to win,” Barnes said. “The way we look at is, let’s produce another state champion with wins and bonus points. Our goal is to get 25 or 26 bonus points and if we do that’s like having another guy get to the state finals.”
The 3A 195-pound division is shaping up to be one of today’s most interesting finals.
Meadowdale’s Ciaran Ball and Stanwood’s Foster Wade, ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the state respectively, each won both of their matches on Friday to advance to the semifinals.
If each wins their first match today, they will both represent the Wesco in the state final.
Wade needed all three periods to outlast Lincoln’s Jeremy Lukosh 14-6 in the quarterfinals, while Ball needed just 33 seconds to pin Aliyas Fletcher, also from Lincoln.
“That’s definitely what I’m really happy about is that I have tons of time to relax and not stress,” Ball said of the quick finish to his match. “It’s not like it’s a double-overtime match with no time to relax and chill and prepare for my next match tomorrow, so it’s a good thing.”
Wade’s match had to be stopped briefly in the third period for an injury to his leg. He said after he tweaked his knee, but would be fine for today’s semifinals.
Both wrestlers and each of their coaches are focused on winning their upcoming semifinal matches first, but Meadowdale head coach Brian Boardman admits an all-Wesco final would be exciting.
“It would be awesome to have a Wesco-Wesco final,” Boardman said. “It would be fun. We like to get as many Wesco teams up there as we can. That’s how we want. We like to be competitive with everyone else and I think we’re doing a pretty good job of it.”
Several local wrestlers came into day one of the Mat Classic with No. 1 rankings. One such wrestler, Shorewood 126-pounder Michael Floresca received quite the scare. Floresca needed sudden-death overtime to advance to the semifinals with a 4-3 victory over Andrew Ramirez of Lakes.
The near-defeat served as a wake-up call for Floresca.
“Rankings don’t mean (anything),” Floresca said. “That kid could have beat me. It doesn’t matter where you are ranked. It’s a matter of who put in the most work. That kid worked hard. I worked a little bit harder.”
On the girls side, Granite Falls senior Danielle Crawford advanced to the 2A semifinals at 112 pounds with two pins.
“All of my hard work paid off,” Crawford said after her victory over Yelm’s Hailey Myers in the quarterfinals. “I feel accomplished.”
Crawford will face Thomas Jefferson’s Jasmine Pleasants, the only 2A 112-pounder to beat Crawford this season, in this morning’s semifinal.
“I know that tomorrow I will wrestle to the best of my potential and I’ll be able to get her,” Crawford said. “I’m feeling pretty pumped.”
Aaron Lommers covers prep sports for The Herald. Follow him on twitter @aaronlommers and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.