Cool, calm Cuzzetto wins second state title

TACOMA — Noah Cuzzetto was down and looked out of it.

The defending 106-pound champion got his face shoved into the mat in the first period of the 113-pound final. Yelm’s Darren Harris — himself a defending champ at the 3A level in 2012 — was not playing around.

It was a rematch of the Region I final a week ago won by Cuzzetto 6-5 after which Harris shrugged as if to say, “I’ll see you next week.”

Both breezed through their first three bouts of the tournament and Harris didn’t wait to make his mark bursting to a 6-3 edge after one period.

Cuzzetto guessed Harris saved some moves for the big stage.

“He definitely was,” Cuzzetto said. “He was stronger and bigger than I remember. He definitely had a lot more water in him than he did last time.”

Edmonds-Woodway coach Brian Alfi was nervous.

“With wrestling normally in high level matches 6-3 is a pretty stout lead,” Alfi said. “And a lot of times with high-level wrestlers they don’t give up a lot of points.”

If Cuzzetto was worried you couldn’t see it on his face.

“He stays so calm,” Alfi said. “You never saw a sense of panic. He’s down 6-3 and you couldn’t tell the score. He’s got a great sense of composure and ice water in his veins.”

Cuzzetto went to work in the second period and slowly place his hands, moved his legs and positioned Harris where he wanted him. Suddenly he used a cradle and Harris was on his back and the referee slapped the mat to signal a pin.

This time Harris shook his head.

“I think he definitely didn’t expect that one because I never did it on him in the previous (match),” Cuzzetto said. “It’s not my number one move but whatever happens in the state finals. It comes down to scrambles. I did what I could.”

Now with two state titles, the Warrior junior has already been thinking about a third and his ultimate goal, which is to wrestle in college. He says the second was harder than the first and he knows that the third will be harder than the second.

“I want to go up,” Cuzzetto said. “I want to show colleges that I can do it at a bigger weight.”

He wasn’t the only Warrior to make a mark this week. At 132 pounds Nathan Vulliet won his last bout of the tournament after losing in the second round Friday. He took fifth with a 4-3 decision. In the same weight Arlington’s Bryce Thomas took eighth.

Alfi was especially proud of the junior, who lost both matches at the regional tournament in 2012 but one was a 1-0 decision to an eventual state finalist that hinted at things to come.

“Nathan Vulliet taking 5th place is unbelievable,” the E-W coach said. “Just the progression of him … It just shows what an incredible amount of work that he put in and how far he’s come.”

At heavyweight George Johanson of Edmonds-Woodway won his final bout of his high school career with a first-period pin to take seventh place.

“He’s a presence that’s really going to be missed in our room,” Alfi said. “Last three years we haven’t given up a point in Wesco South duals. It’s nice having that anchor. I’ll miss George a lot.”

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