TACOMA — When Darrington senior Mason McKenzie clinched his third consecutive Class 2B/1B state championship at 220 pounds with a 7-2 victory over Toldeo’s Dalton Yoder at the 2016 Mat Classic, he and head coach Andy West exchanged a hug.
It was the last embrace the two will share with McKenzie wearing his wrestling singlet, but their relationship will continue to remain a special one.
West isn’t just McKenzie’s coach, he’s also his step dad.
“I definitely wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for him,” McKenzie said. “He came into my life and it just changed me forever. He brought me everywhere — wrestling tournaments. It feels great to give him three championships. He had two and I get three. It feels good.”
Watching is son win a third state title was an emotional moment for West.
“There is three boys. The youngest is my own, but the other two boys aren’t,” West said. “I’ve never viewed them as not mine. They’ve always been my own. To me, I’d never separate him as not mine. I always think they’re all brothers. My youngest, when you tell him ‘he’s your half-brother.’ He’s like, ‘he is not!’ To me, it couldn’t be any better of a feeling.”
“I’m a proud father.”
McKenzie made the state championship match in each of his four high school seasons. He lost by one point as a freshman, but went on to win the next three.
“He set out and did what he wanted to do,” West said. “He always dreamed of being a four-timer. He fell a little short his freshman year and got overpowered, but this one kind of solidified his goals and the way he stepped forward. I couldn’t be happier.”
Stanwood’s Phillips wins state title after missing freshman season
Stanwood sophomore Mason Phillips didn’t have the start to his high-school wrestling career that he would have liked. After tearing his ACL prior to his freshman year of high school, Phillips couldn’t wrestle for the Spartans during the 2014-15 season.
One year later he’s a state champion.
Phillips beat Arlington’s Jeremy Nygard 6-1 in the 3A final at 138 pounds for his first state championship.
Retiring Arlington head coach Rick Iversen thinks it could be the first of many.
“That Mason Phillips is an unbelievable athlete,” Iversen said. “So is Jeremy. We thought we’d be in the match a little bit more tonight with Jeremy, but Mason caught him a couple of time, to his credit. He’s probably got two more titles in his bag before he’s done.”
Phillips said the knee is 100 percent now, which it surely looked like it was in his win over Nygard on Saturday.
“All the hard work paid off in between (the injury) and now I’ve got the opportunity to come win another one, a state title,” said Phillips, who went 22-0 this season. “I got hurt about two weeks before school started and I thought I was going to be able to come back (as a freshman), but it didn’t happen. I wasn’t there yet.”
Phillips is the third Stanwood wrestler to win a state title in the last three years, joining Foster Wade in 2014 and West Weinart in 2015.
McDaniel wins title over Crew in regional rematch
Edmonds-Woodway’s Mason McDaniel can finally forget his 8-6 loss to Arlington’s Azariah Crew in the 160-pound finals at the regional tournament.
Saturday, McDaniel got his revenge with a 7-3 win over Crew in the state championship match in the same weight class.
“It’s been my dream since I was in sixth grade and it feels amazing,” McDaniel said. “I’m so happy. I’m so thankful for all my coaches and all my practice partners. I wouldn’t be here without them and it’s just an awesome feeling.”
McDaniel said he wasn’t prepared for Crew when the two met at regionals. He spent the past week making sure that wouldn’t happen again.
“I’m came out ready,” McDaniel said. “The last match I wasn’t ready. I came out flat and I was unprepared for the match. I wasn’t mentally prepared. This time, I was ready to give six minutes of my best wrestling.
“I worked harder than I’ve ever worked my entire life that week after that loss,” McDaniel said. “This was my dream and I was going to come and take it.”
Aaron Lommers covers prep sports for The Herald. Follow him on Twitter at @aaronlommers and contact him at email@example.com.