By John McDonald
ARLINGTON — In another state, Arlington senior Jimmy Jayne might be vying for his third straight wrestling state championship.
But Jayne wrestles in Washington, home to three-time state champion Burke Barnes of Lake Stevens and two-time state champion Joel Mittelman of Lynnwood.
Each of the last two seasons, Jayne has finished as the runnerup to one or the other
This could be Jayne’s year, however. Mittelman graduated and it looks like he will be in a lower weight class than Barnes.
"(Winning a state championship) has been my goal since I was little," Jayne said. "I fell short twice. I don’t want to fall short a third time. This is my year to do it.
"I’m hoping to wrestle in college, so I really need this."
After losing to Barnes at 125 pounds in 2000, Jayne had a tough decision to make last season. He knew he’d be stronger at 125 pounds, but he thought he’d have a better chance of beating Mittelman at 119. But it wasn’t to be.
"I was a little discouraged at the time," Jayne said. "It’s just something you have to deal with.
"As far as Mittelman and Barnes go, I’ve never been the kind of person to give up. I keep pushing as hard as I can. Both years I thought I had a chance in the final, but I fell short."
Because all three wrestlers are in the same league, Jayne ran up against one or the other at every level; league, district, regional and state.
Former Kamiak wrestler Brandon Christensen knows what that is like. In 1996, his senior year, he competed in the same weight class as fellow Western Conference wrestler and three-time state champion Otto Olson of Everett. Christensen was second to Olson in the league, district and state meets.
"It’s frustrating," said Christensen, who is now an assistant football coach and physical education teacher at Shorecrest High School.
"But (Jayne) has been that close two years in a row, his confidence level should be high. It’s his senior year, he’ll really be striving."
Arlington coach Jim Smoots said Jayne was really upset by last season’s loss to Mittelman because he had pinned Mittelman earlier in the year.
"But he got over it quickly," Smoots said. "He went back to work, went on a cultural exchange trip to Japan and wrestled some freestyle."
Smoots said Jayne has an aggressive, fighting style that’s difficult for opponents to counter.
"He wasn’t scored upon at state until the final," Smoots said. "And he was going against guys with whom he’d had some close matches earlier in the year."
Arlington has moved to 4A this season, but so have most of last season’s top Wesco 3A teams, including state champion Lake Stevens.
But that doesn’t bother Jayne. If he is going to win a state championship, he wants to do it against the best possible competition.
Wesco North: Lake Stevens, with four wrestlers returning who placed fifth or higher at state last season, is the obvious favorite. Cascade, last season’s Wesco 4A dual meet, district and regional champion, and Stanwood should be next in line followed by Marysville-Pilchuck and Snohomish. Oak Harbor, which finished ninth in the state, graduated a state champion and a state runnerup and will drop back some but remain competitive.
Wesco South: Edmonds-Woodway is the only team with a returning state placer in a wide-open race. Kamiak, Everett, Mariner and Jackson are likely top-five finishers as well.
North Cascades: South Whidbey, with returning state champion Brandon Hern leading the way, has its sights set on overtaking Lakewood for third place behind favorites Mount Baker and Nooksack Valley. But Lakewood has a lot of depth, including three returning state placers, and may not be passed.
Northwest A/B: With 11 returning state participants, Darrington should be the favorite.