TACOMA — Meadowdale’s Ciaran Ball and Stanwood’s Foster Wade have been ranked No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, among 3A 195-pounders for nearly the entire season.
Saturday, they met in the state championship at the Mat Classic — the only title match that featured two Wesco wrestlers.
It was a match that lived up to every amount of hype surrounding it.
Wade needed three overtimes, but eventually outlasted Ball with an escape to win 5-4.
After wrestling for Archbishop Murphy, where he attends high school, for three seasons, the Wildcats’ wrestling program folded this season because of low numbers. Wade lives in Stanwood and decided to wrestle for the Spartans, which is allowed by the WIAA.
It’s been a roller-coaster ride for Wade, but it culminated with a state championship.
“It was amazing,” Wade said. “My coach from Archbishop Murphy was sitting in the corner and he was cheering me on telling me to stay calm and keep up the positive attitude. I think (him being there) was a big part of it, knowing that he was in the corner watching me. I gave him a big-old hug afterwards. He’s big a big part of what I’ve done.”
Former Archbishop Murphy head coach and current Snohomish assistant Blaine Smith was just as happy as his former pupil after Wade clinched the title.
“I started crying,” Smith said. “It was so cool. Just to have Foster win it after a real disappointing loss in the finals last year. I knew he’d work really hard. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to be by his side the entire year, but what a great way to finish it though.
Wade thought he had lost in the final for a second-consecutive season in the final moments of regulation. He was up 4-3 with the clock stopped and less than 30 seconds to go in the period. When the match resumed, Ball earned an escape to tie the match at four and followed it with a takedown appearing to win the match 6-4 as time expired. The clock, however, had not started for several seconds when the match resumed. The officials discussed what happened and removed Ball’s two points forcing the first overtime.
“When he got that takedown I thought it was all over,” Wade said. “I thought I was done, but they messed up on the clock so I got a second chance and I thought if I got this second chance I can’t mess up with it.”
Stanwood head coach Ray Mather said he was confident about 15 seconds of the match happened before the clock actually started and was confident the referees would reverse the call.
But he was prepared for a fight if they didn’t.
“I was going to stay there until they did,” Mather said with a laugh.
Mather added the timing error was unfortunate because it takes away from what a great match it was.
It was the first state championship for the senior Wade and the first individual state title as a coach for Mather, who has been the head coach at Stanwood for eight years.
“I was happy I got to be a part of it,” Mather said. “There’s always that grey-area about not coaching him all for years, but we did a lot this year and I think we helped him a little bit.”
While still at Archbishop Murphy, Wade lost a close match to ball last year, Saturday’s match was even better.
“I think we’ve both gotten a lot better since then,” Wade said. “It was a really interesting match. I’m really proud of myself, but I’m impressed with how much better he’s gotten as well.”
Aaron Lommers covers prep sports for The Herald. Follow him on twitter @aaronlommers and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.