TACOMA — Here’s how Cascade senior 285-pounder Andrew Raymond got the nickname Butcher.
When he was a freshman, Raymond was wrestling in a dual against Mountlake Terrace when he successfully executed a series of maneuvers called ‘the butcher’ four times. Each completed ‘butcher’ typically results in a pinfall, but the match official on that evening just wasn’t calling it for Raymond.
“I eventually won, but my coaches decided that they would just call me ‘Butcher,’ ” Raymond said. “And my dad’s a butcher.”
Raymond, who finished second at districts and third at regionals to get into the Mat Classic XXIX field, was matched up with Moses Lake’s Chandler Fluaitt in Friday’s quarterfinal round, and it was safe to say the ‘Butcher’ was the decided underdog.
Fluaitt is a district and regional champion, and in addition to being a returning state placer, he also won the prestigious Tri-State tournament at North Idaho College during the regular season, an event which typically boasts fields stiffer than the average Mat Classic bracket.
“The coaches didn’t want to psyche me out, so they didn’t tell me about the other guy,” Raymond said. “They just told me to go out and give my best and take each match one at a time, so that’s what I did.”
Fluaitt led for most of the match, but Raymond kept coming, and was so dogged in his chasing of the lead that he forced the match official to call Fluaitt for stalling four times. The first one’s a warning, and then Raymond was awarded one point for each of the next two and two points for the third.
Those four points, solely derived from Raymond’s tenacity and reservoir of stamina, produced an 11-9 win and one of Friday’s most dramatic upsets.
“This is a never-say-die sport,” the Butcher said. “I’m a senior, and I was not going to walk out of here without a medal.”
Cascade coach Brooklyn Obregon often tells his team that pressure makes things break, sometimes even demonstrating that maxim with a piece of wood.
“The same applies to people, especially in our sport,” Obregon said. “The more pressure you put on people, no matter who they are, they eventually break. No matter who they are.”
Tough day for defending champs
It was hard out here for local defending champions Friday, as defending 4A champ Lake Stevens only placed two of its 11 wrestlers into Saturday’s semifinals, and reigning 3A title-holder Arlington is down to just one unlikely semifinalist after four title hopefuls were bounced from the championship bracket.
Eagles senior 285-pounder Tristan Emery is Arlington’s last remaining hope for a state championship as returning runner-up Gavin Rork and 2016 fifth-pace finisher Colton Ferro each lost tight quarterfinal matches.
To their credit, Rork, Ferro and returing first-place finisher Cooper McAuslan will continue wrestling Saturday after consolation victories.
Emery pinned Dominick Mack of Squalicum in the first period of his opener before decking Yelm’s Skylor Mottner 3:54 into his quarterfinal.
“(Emery) has been really putting it together these last three weeks, and he deserves to be where he’s at,” Arlington coach Jonny Gilbertson said. “I always try to be Mr. Optimist, but I really think all five kids we brought could have been in the finals. The guys who lost have two choices. They can dwell on the losses and take that negative energy into the rest of the tournament, or they can put it in the past and focus on the next six minutes, which are the only ones that matter.”
Brent Barnes’ Vikings also have to battle through the consolations to reach the top five in the team standings for a staggering 15th consecutive year.
Only four of the Vikings’ 11 wrestlers won their first-round bouts, headlined by 170-pound junior Malachi Lawrence, who placed third here a year ago. Lawrence pinned both of his opponents Friday, and after an opening-round pin 106-pounder Markus Johnson grinded out a 5-2 win over Ferris’ Connor Irvin in the quarters.
Only Jake Bennett (106) Angelo Loera (170) will continue on to Saturday’s competition.
The silver lining for Lake Stevens? Only 120-pounder Nathan Scilley will gradutate this year among those 11, meaning the Vikings could be back in a big way in 2018.
Eventful morning for Warriors
The role of the alternate is a tricky one at Mat Classic.
The wrestlers that finish fifth and sixth at regionals get to make the trip to the Tacoma Dome with their teammates, but the alternates only get to compete in the off chance that a state qualifier doesn’t make weight or some other malady befalls them.
The chances aren’t good.
But just like a pinch-hitter or a backup goalie, the alternate has to be ready.
Edmonds-Woodway 113-pounder Howie Hare got the call 45 minutes before the tournament began, and took the place of a Shorecrest wrestler who developed a skin condition that barred him from competing.
“It’s a little scary,” Hare said. “I did what I could to get myself ready, but I just wrestled and it still hasn’t sunk in yet.”
To make things even tougher on the freshman, the first-round match he was thrust into was against Bonney Lake’s Brandon Kaylor, a two-time state champion who is ranked 19th in the nation by Intermat.
Kaylor pinned Hare in 1:17, and even though he was eliminated later Friday, he isn’t likely to forget his first Mat Classic.