EVERETT — Dominance in Wesco 3A wrestling still goes through Arlington.
The defending state champions foiled what will likely be the biggest threat to a repeat conference championship on Thursday night, upending Everett 41-30 on the road.
There were some hairy moments for the Eagles, to be sure, but first-year coach Jonny Gilbertson’s lineup strategy paid dividends, and his war horses took care of business against the upstart Seagulls.
The match swung at the 182-pound bout between Arlington’s Cooper McAuslan, a two-time state placer wrestling up from his usual spot at 170 pounds, against Everett’s Jake Leonard, a wrecking ball with a low center of gravity who is ranked eighth in 3A by WashingtonWrestlingReport.com.
It was a cagey affair through the first period, with McAuslan holding a 2-1 lead until Leonard tied it up with an escape and took the lead with a takedown out of a scramble midway through the round.
“It was a tough match,” said McAuslan, ranked seventh in 3A. “I’m 12 pounds lighter than he is and I usually would go for throws, but he was just too big. I went for the legs a little bit more and it worked out.”
With the match tied at five and the clock running down in the third period, McAuslan was the beneficiary of a stalling call on Leonard that gave the Eagles a point and accounted for the final margin of 6-5.
Arlington recorded pins in the next four bouts to seal it.
“It would have been an exciting end to the match, but it was disappointing that the referee decided to take that away from us,” Everett coach Brien Elliott said. “Cooper might be a state champion this year. He didn’t need that help.”
McAuslan is still working his way into postseason condition after not wrestling in the offseason for the first time. He wrestled at 145 and 152 pounds as a junior last season and has been competing at 170 and 182 this year.
“He’s getting there,” Gilbertson said. “Cooper wrestled a smart match and got to the kid’s legs a little bit, but Leonard fought out of some of those scrambles because he’s just a phenomenal athlete. But Cooper’s just a gamer. He’s coming on strong and wrestling well heading into the postseason.”
Everett sophomore Christian Balmer nearly pulled off a titanic upset at 195 pounds, giving third-ranked Colton Ferro everything he wanted before Ferro steadied in the late going and got the pin.
“Christian has really powerful hips and is real good at scrambling,” Elliott said. “He’s one of those explosive wrestlers that when he puts his technique together with all that, he could be really exciting.”
Ferro found himself on the verge of being pinned twice in the bout, as Balmer used hip bumps each time to get Ferro on his back.
Other highlights from the evening included No. 9 Brett Allred’s late near-fall to force overtime and eventually beat upset-minded Kristian Fairbanks of Arlington at 160 pounds, and girls No. 9 Jordynn Mani battling toe-to-toe with No. 12 Josh Allred for two periods before being pinned at 113 pounds.