Monroe freshman reaches semis in debut

TACOMA – Sam Ottow has been a Mat Classic regular for a dozen years. But on Friday he finally made his debut as a competitor.

Ottow, a Monroe High freshman, first attended Mat Classic, the state’s all-classification wrestling tournaments held at the Tacoma Dome, in 1994 to watch his oldest brother compete for the Bearcats.

It seems Ottow picked up a few tips over the years.

Competing in the 112-pound weight class, Ottow won two close decisions Friday at Mat Classic XVIII to advance to the semifinals of the 4A tournament. He topped Tahoma’s Kevin Tao 5-2 in the first round and outlasted senior Gabe Gassman of Curtis 5-4 in his quarterfinal bout.

“They came out tough,” Ottow, who improved his season record to 35-2, said of his opponents. “But I kind of handled it and got over my nerves.”

Monroe coach Justin Springer said Ottow wrestled a bit more conservatively than normal and battled first-time jitters.

“He realized once he started wrestling that this is different than watching (from the stands),” Springer said, noting that Ottow’s victories weren’t picture perfect. “But he found a way to win.” Ottow’s next opponent is talented University sophomore Brian Owen, last year’s 103 state champ. Owen cruised to the semifinals with a 16-0 technical fall and a third-round pin. Ottow once trained with Owen at a camp, but it will be their first official bout.

“I got nothing to lose,” Ottow said. “I just got to go out and do my best.”

Settling the score: Mat Classic wouldn’t be the same without the help of Joe and Kathy Kubec, parents of Marysville-Pilchuck senior wrestler Kenny Kubec, who on Friday advanced to the 130 semifinals. The elder Kubecs helped build the massive hand-operated, regularly updated scoreboards that have been used the last three years to display team point standings for fans. Asked if he’s ever had an urge to get his parents to bump M-P up higher on the list, Kenny Kubec smiled and said he tried but they wouldn’t cooperate.

Coach honors: Before the start of the evening session Bellingham wrestling coach Brian Smith presented the Washington State Wrestling Coaches Association’s State Coaches of the Year awards. The winners were: Olympia’s Rockey Isley (4A), Kelso’s Bob Freund (3A), Scott Jones of Lakeside-9 Mile Falls (2A) and Lake Roosevelt’s Steve Hood (A/B).

Kelso’s Sitch aims for fourth title: Kelso senior Brandon Sitch (160) continued his quest to become just the fourth four-time individual state champ. Sitch, who had a pin and a major decision Friday to reach the 3A semifinals, would be the first Washington wrestler to achieve the feat since Burke Barnes of Lake Stevens (1999-2002). The other four-timers are Pat Connors of R.A. Long (1991-1994) and Martin Mitchell of Tonasket (1998-2001).

Three semifinalists for Cedarcrest: Three of Cedarcrest’s four state participants advanced to the Final Four in the 3A tourney. Sophomore Ty Howard (112), junior Dan

Claussen (135) and senior David Howard (152) all won their first two matches to reach the semifinals.

Don’t I know you?: Anyone who has wandered by the Everett High School wrestling room in recent years might recognize the match-up in one of the 215-pound semifinals of the 4A bracket.

Justin Boyce and Parker Burns are EHS teammates who wrestle against each other every day.

But just because Boyce promises “an all-out brawl” in their meeting today, don’t expect much animosity. The duo has become good friends over the years and each credits the other with making him better.

“We both push each other all the time,” said Boyce, who won the state title at 189 pounds last year. “He’s a really good wrestler, so it’s always like a state match in practice every day.”

Burns, a junior who is a year behind Boyce in school, has won his share of battles at practice. But he still hasn’t beaten his older teammate in tournaments, where Boyce holds a 12-0 head-to-head record.

Still, Boyce isn’t expecting an easy afternoon.

“I hate wrestling him because he always knows what I’m going to do,” Boyce said. “So it’s just really hard to wrestle him.”

She got game: With a first-round match against a female opponent, many high school wrestlers would be brimming with confidence.

But Mariner 103-pound junior Woo Song Do wasn’t scheduled to go against just any girl.

Do had to open his state tournament against Puyallup’s Whitney Condor, who entered the tournament with a 30-5 record and realistic shot at winning the state title. Condor beat him 13-7 before losing her second-round match and falling into the consolation bracket.

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