Familiar voice missing

Something was missing at Mat Classic.

Beyond the usual takedowns, reversals and pins, there was a void.

Where was the familiar voice of Ed Aliverti?

Aliverti, of Edmonds, has been a fixture at Mat Classic since it began 19 years ago, and at high-level wrestling events throughout the world, for that matter.

But the well-known, accomplished announcer didn’t call the action in the Tacoma Dome Friday for Mat Classic XIX, the state wrestling championships.

He sure wanted to, though.

Aliverti was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in August and since then has undergone chemotherapy treatment. In a phone interview Friday night, Aliverti said he had hoped to be at Mat Classic but is focusing on his recovery. The cancer was detected early, he said, and his outlook is positive.

“I’m doing very well,” said Aliverti, who was a longtime music teacher in the Edmonds School District and served as dean at Edmonds Community College. He said the 300-plus letters and e-mails he has received from well-wishers have lifted his spirits.

Aliverti started announcing state wrestling tourneys in 1965, back when it was held at the University of Washington. He has gone on to announce at the world championships and the Olympic Games.

Aliverti, who said he loves the excitement of prep wrestling, won’t fill the Tacoma Dome with his distinctive voice this year. But the man selected as a distinguished member of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame expects to return in 2008.

“We’re looking forward to coming back,” he said.

Second-generation muscle: Even in a room filled with muscle-bound wrestlers, Darrington senior Trevor Herston stands out. The 5-foot-9, 180-pound Herston has 18-inch biceps on a well-cut frame, and it’s a trait that runs in the family – from his mother’s side.

Herston’s mother, Tawnya Nettles, was a member of the first U.S. national bodybuilding team to compete internationally. Nettles got Herston on a weightlifting program when he was in seventh grade, and the results are pretty obvious.

“She really inspired me to go out and work on myself,” said Herston, who bench presses five repetitions of between 350 and 400 pounds during a typical workout.

Herston’s strength isn’t limited to the weight room. Despite giving up as much as 35 pounds, he wrestles in the 215-pound weight class so that teammate and close friend Conner Rounds can wrestle at 189. Both wrestlers advanced to today’s semifinals of the Class B tournament.

Herston said he doesn’t mind being smaller than most of his opponents. In fact, the senior wrestled at 275 pounds last year.

So when it was pointed out to him that there aren’t many 5-9 wrestlers in the 215-pound class, Herston just smiled.

“There’s even less at 275,” he said.

Frustrating finish for Graika: Skylar Graika wrestled through a number of injuries over the years, but this time the risk was too great. Graika, a Kamiak senior who won a state title while living in Alaska, battled back from a hurt knee this season to become district champ, 4A Region 1 runner-up and a Mat Classic qualifier. But earlier this week, according to Kamiak coach Dan Hanika, a doctor discovered that Graika (152 pounds) had nerve damage in his back. Competing at state could lead to a more severe injury, even paralysis, the doctor warned. So on Thursday Graika withdrew from the tourney, ending a frustrating season.

“He’s been wrestling since he was 4. This was (supposed to be) his culminating tournament, so it’s really hard for him to step down and not compete in this one,” Hanika said.

An injury also prematurely ended Graika’s junior season.

“It came down to him wrestling versus (risking) his personal well-being, his safety,” Hanika said.

In an odd twist, Hanika’s son, Monroe senior Joe Hanika, filled Graika’s slot at state. Hanika was an alternate before Graika withdrew.

Lake Stevens’ Barnes honored: Brent Barnes, in his 20th season leading the Lake Stevens program, was named 4A state coach of the year by the Washington State Coaches Association on Friday. Barnes’ squads have won 18 straight league titles, 16 regional titles and four state championships.

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