TACOMA — With one sweep of the leg in the final 10 seconds of Saturday’s 113-pound 4A state-championship match, Lake Stevens sophomore Michael Soler delivered back-to-back state championships — twice.
Not only did Soler’s thrilling 6-5 victory over Moses Lake’s Fernando Leyva earn him his second-consecutive state championship, he also earned the Vikings back-to-back team championships and their third title in four seasons.
The Vikings edged Moses Lake 133 to 116½.
“It was great,” Lake Stevens head coach Brent Barnes said. “I know that Michael has felt a lot pressure over the past year being a returning state champion and he’s worked really hard. I know that was a big moment for him and it was a big moment for us.”
Soler trailed 5-3 in the final period, but rallied with an escape with less than a minute remaining in the match and scored on a two-point takedown with less than five seconds on the clock to clinch the championship.
“We work that in practice all the time,” Soler said. “You’ve got 10 seconds left and you’ve got to get to a shot. I just thought about it and thought about the team and had to get it.”
Lake Stevens had a comfortable lead heading into Saturday’s championship matches, but Moses Lake had just earned five points for Trey Long’s victory over his teammate Cooper McCullough in the 106-pound final. The Chiefs could have drawn to even closer had Leyva hung on to beat Soler.
Instead, the Vikings are champions again.
So far in Soler’s brief high-school career, he has lost to just one wrestler from Washington State. It just so happens the loss was to Leyva.
Soler got revenge on Saturday. More importantly, he got his second state championship.
“Last year, it was awesome because it was my first year winning it,” Soler said. “But this year there was just so much more on the line. The kid beat me earlier in the year. I had that going through my head. I knew the team counted on me. It was amazing.”
The Vikings had three wrestlers in the finals on Saturday, but needed just one victory in those three matches to clinch the team championship. Soler was the first to get the opportunity, but confident the Vikings would get at least one, Barnes and his staff didn’t discuss it with Soler.
“All we had to do was win one of those three finals and we knew we were going to get at least one,” Barnes said. “We didn’t talk about it with Michael. They’re smart enough to figure out the scoring themselves, but I didn’t want to him to carry that burden.”
Viking senior Noah Cuzzetto, who won two state titles while at Edmonds-Woodway, failed in his bid to become a three-time state champion, losing to Union’s Junior Godinho 6-2 in overtime. But the Vikings were still able to celebrate one more individual title when 195-pounder Cody Vigoren pinned Lewis and Clark’s Andrew Backlund.
“It’s just a great way to end the tournament,” Barnes said. “We lost a tough one with Noah at 132. That hurts, but Cody capped off a great season.”
Lake Stevens might have had the most to celebrate, but the Vikings certainly weren’t the only ones with reason to celebrate. Lynnwood’s Hunter Lord won his first state championship in dominant fashion, defeating Central Valley’s David Shephard 10-2.
“It means the world (to me),” Lord said moments after his victory. “I work every day, every second … I’m mind-blown right now. My goal has come true.”
On the wall in Lynnwood’s practice room is a list of its previous state champions. Soon Lord’s name will be added to the list.
“I look at that every day when I walk in and every day I’m like, ‘That’s my goal, I want to be on that damn wall,’” Lord said. “And here I am.”
Lord won both of his matches by pin on Friday and advanced. He wasn’t really challenged on Saturday, winning 6-2 in the semifinal and by eight in the championship.
“He set a goal earlier in the season to be the state champ and every day he came to practice with that on his mind,” Lynnwood head coach Trace Regan said.
The 3A’s top-ranked 126-pounder, Shorewood’s Matthew Floresca, also won an individual state title, shutting out second-ranked Cam Sorensen 3-0 from University in the championship. After building the lead in the first period, Floresca held off Sorensen’s efforts in the second and third.
“I’m really rewarded,” Floresca said. “I’ve put in a lot of hard work so it feels pretty good to finally get what I came out here to get.
Stanwood’s Foster Wade also came out on top Saturday, defeating Meadowdale’s Ciaran Ball 5-4 in triple overtime to win the 3A 195-pound title.
Marysville Pilchuck’s Killian Page fell short at 160 pounds, falling 3-2 to North Central Izaec Quintanilla in the championship. It was Page’s first loss of the season. Edmonds-Woodway’s Nathan Vulliet earned a second-place finish as a 4A 145-pounder with a 6-1 loss to Central Valley’s Colton Orrino in the championship.
Besides Lake Stevens, the only other area team to have multiple state champions was Darrington. After waiting around the whole day for the larger schools to get through the semifinals, Lane Monteith (195) and Mason McKenzie (220) won their titles back-to-back near the end of the evening.
“We’ve worked so long for this,” Darrington head coach Andy West said. “Both these kids have worked been dreaming about this moment and finally all that hard work and dedication has finally paid off.
McKenzie is West’s stepson and becomes a third-generation state champion at Darrington. Bill West won the title at 190 pounds in 1973 and Andy won back-to-back titles in 1998 and 1999.
After McKenzie’s victory, West called the moment “emotional.”
Aaron Lommers covers prep sports for The Herald. Follow him on twitter @aaronlommers and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.