By David Pan Enterprise sports editor
One Archbishop Murphy wrestler will make history by stepping out on to the mats in the Tacoma Dome, while a teammate could bring home the school’s first state title.
Senior Jeremy Wattam earned his fourth trip to Mat Classic with a second-place finish in the 112-pound division at the 2A Region I tournament Feb. 13 at Cedarcrest High School. Wattam is the first Archbishop Murphy wrestler to advance to state all four years of his high school career.
The Wildcat standout ended up being pinned by Burlington-Edison’s Enrique Medina in the finals. Wattam is 1-3 against Medina.
While Wattam is proud of his four years of success in the postseason, he admitted that “it would mean a lot more to place at state or even win state.”
Winning state is at the top of teammate Cameron Wade’s list of things to do at Mat Classic XXII. The Wildcat junior took first place at 145 with a 5-3 decision over Sehome’s Justin Santos. This is Wade’s third trip to state. He finished third overall at 135 last year.
“Third place at state as a sophomore is fine,” Wade said. “But this year I’ve got it in my mind that I’ll be a state champion and I believe that I can.”
Wade has moved up a weight class every year. He started at 125 as a freshman.
“I’ve gone up more than most of the kids,” he said. “Everybody is completely different. They’re a lot stronger.”
Wade enters Friday’s match with a 31-0 record. Both he and Wattam finished the regular season undefeated, the first time any of the Wildcats achieved perfection.
Wade said he is taking the sport more seriously this season.
“I’ve picked up the intensity in here (practice room) quite a bit,” he said. “I’ve been running every day so I’m getting myself in shape.”
Wade need not look far for a friendly face in his corner. Wade’s father Mike has been coaching him since Cameron started wrestling in kindergarten.
“He’s been coaching me my whole life,” Wade said. “He’s only missed about 20 matches in my whole career.”
Wade relies on his father to provide support and to give him advice on improving his technique.
“He tells me what I’m doing wrong and that always helps,” Wade said.
Wade sees technique as being his biggest strength. Since he’s been wrestling for so long, the execution of his moves comes naturally.
He doesn’t really have to think about it.
“It’s just being able to do it from muscle memory,” Wade said.
Unlike Wade, Wattam hasn’t grown quite as much. He started at 103 and moved up to 112 his sophomore year and has stayed there since. Wattam wrestled at 119 for most of the season before moving down a weight class for the postseason.
“Usually people grow more,” he said. “I stayed small.”
Wattam improved upon his finish at this year’s league and regional tournaments. He finished second at league and took third at regionals last season.
“This is my senior year and my last shot,” Wattam said. “So I’m just going all out. … As a wrestler I think I’ve gotten better pretty much everywhere.”
Wrestling also is a family tradition. Wattam’s father, grandfather and older brother all wrestled. Since Wattam has no more siblings and no plans to continue wrestling after high school, this weekend’s tournament appears to be his last hurrah.
“It excites me that I know it’s going to culminate at the state tournament,” Wattam said. “But it’s kind of depressing and sad.”
Mat Classic XXII starts on Friday, Feb. 19 and runs through Saturday, Feb. 20 at the Tacoma Dome.