SNOHOMISH — The stage was set for Snohomish.
On senior night, in front of what fourth-year coach Joey Brown said was the biggest home crowd in his tenure, the Panthers had Stanwood on the ropes with a 23-point lead and seemed on their way to clinching a share of the Wesco 3A North title on Tuesday.
The Spartans spoiled the party, and the league will be decided on the regular season’s final day.
Starting with junior 285-pounder Jackson Houston’s pin of Snohomish’s Angelo Leyde, Stanwood took 29 of a possible 36 points in winning five of the last six bouts to clip Snohomish 41-39.
The run was actually capped by a Stanwood loss, as Snohomish senior 132-pounder Mathew Miller dominated his matchup with junior Cameron O’Neill and won in a 9-1 major decision, but couldn’t manage to pin O’Neill.
A pin would have meant six team points and tied the bout at 41-41, and Snohomish would have won on the ninth tiebreaker criteria (scoring first more often in the 14 bouts). That’s how even the two teams were, with Snohomish dominating the upper weights, and Stanwood controlling the lower weights.
“The match at 285 was the most important one. That’s when I started doing the addition,” said Stanwood coach Ray Mather. “Jackson’s a kid that in his first year back wrestling after not doing it for a long time, and he came up big tonight. We’ve had problems in duals with getting pinned. Just because you’re out-matched you don’t have to get pinned. You can be out-matched and lose on points. Maybe things are starting to sink in.”
“We’ve basically worked all week on getting our minds right, and our coaches push us really hard,” Houston said. “I think that’s what led to us having that big push and coming out with the win tonight. A league title is one of our goals that we’ve been striving for.”
That goal is still attainable. Everett, which beat Marysville Getchell on Tuesday, is tied with Snohomish atop Wesco 3A North at 4-1. Those two teams face each other at Everett on Thursday. Stanwood is now 3-1, and finishes its season with a home double dual against 0-4 Oak Harbor and 2-2 Marysville Pilchuck on Thursday.
If Snohomish beats the Seagulls, who handed Stanwood its only league loss last week, and the Spartans sweep, they’ll be league champs for the first time by winning the head-to-head battle with the Panthers.
A Snohomish win and a Stanwood loss Thursday gives the Panthers the crown.
Everett can win the title outright if it beats Snohomish on Thursday and Stanwood falters against Oak Harbor or Marysville Pilchuck.
Although Stanwood is dripping with talent, it’s largely young talent. Mather sent out six freshmen against Snohomish, which countered with five seniors and six juniors. The Spartans’ freshmen accounted for 23 of the team’s 41 points during the dual, and won four straight bouts after Houston’s win at 285 to give Stanwood a 41-35 lead heading into the match’s final contest.
Lane Ovenell (106), Tyler Rhue (113), Bryan Roodzant (120) and Keaton Mayernik (126) won consecutive bouts to fuel the comeback, which O’Neill protected.
“It’s a pretty special group,” Mather said of his team, which boasts four wrestlers with two or fewer losses in Rhue (30-0), Mayernik (29-2), junior 138-pounder Isaac Ortega (28-1) and senior 170-pounder Riley Van Scoy (22-1).
Ortega and Van Scoy were the only Spartans to win over the first eight bouts, as Snohomish staked itself to a 35-12 lead. Juniors Jayme Gonzalez, Paul Johnson, Trevin Weeks and seniors Ryan Coté, Jesús Gonzalez and Dylan Wheeler all won their bouts during that run, which electrified the senior night crowd.
During that run, Weeks beat Stanwood’s Ryder Bumgarner for the second time this season. The junior 152-pounder pinned Bumgarner, another of Stanwood’s freshmen, in 4:41 Tuesday after besting him 9-4 in the semifinals of the Panther Classic, hosted by Snohomish on Jan. 11.
“It’s tough, but it is what it is. Tonight, 285 and 106 turned out to be the big swing weights, and they won when they needed to, but it was an awesome dual,” Brown said. “I’m really proud of our guys. They wrestled great, and we feel like we’re sitting in a really good position going into the postseason. We’re a really deep team this year, and we feel like we have a lot of guys who can score points at districts and even regionals. We’ve had a lot of guys sick throughout the season, and we’re finally getting to a point where we feel like we can put our best team out there.”
Brown noted that the return of Wheeler, a senior 195-pounder who went 0-2 at the state tournament last season at 170 pounds but has been in and out of the lineup this year with illness, has provided a spark.
“He’s the kind of guy who could be in a district or regional final,” Brown said. “We like where we’re headed.”