Here are a few storylines to watch during the 2019-20 prep wrestling season:
Back to normal for Mat Classic XXXII
After a brutal winter storm forced the cancellation of regional wrestling tournaments statewide last February and turned Mat Classic XXXI into a 32-person bracket affair, new Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) wrestling administrator Justin Kesterson said the plan is to go back to the typical 16-person format for the 2020 event, slated for Feb. 21-22.
With twice the amount of wrestlers in the Tacoma Dome for the state tournament last year, the event experienced delays on both days of competition — including a two hour and 41-minute delay before the start of Saturday’s finals session and lengthy wait times for morning weigh-ins.
Kesterson replaced Brian Smith, who spent two seasons as a WIAA administrator before leaving to become the athletic director for the Kent School District in June.
Coincidentally, the 32-person state tournament format last season was forced on the wrestling community by the weather, but it’s no secret that plenty of coaches around the state would like to see it become the new normal.
“There are definitely different layers to that discussion, and some things will be cleared up once we find out what our classifications are going to look like,” Kesterson said. “I know there’s a surface push for a 32-person bracket, and we’ll have to see if that’s feasible.”
The current classification cycle
It’s possible that shifts in reclassification and schools potentially opting up could prompt wholesale changes to the wrestling landscape beginning in the 2020-21 season.
“Until all the numbers come in, we’re kind of throwing darts in the dark,” Kesterson said.
With a bevy of talented freshmen joining a lineup with a pair of returning state placers in senior Riley Van Scoy and junior Isaac Ortega, Stanwood has the potential to be among the top teams in the area this season.
Incoming freshmen Tyler Rhue, Keaton Mayernik and Mason Ferguson all earned All-America honors in both freestyle and Greco-Roman at June’s Schoolboy National Duals in Indianapolis, and all three have extensive wrestling experience that belies their ages.
Van Scoy is two pins shy of tying the Washington state career record of 112, set by Yelm’s Darren Harris in 2015. While Harris set the mark during the postseason of his senior year, Van Scoy will likely break the record in the first week or two of his final high school campaign, allowing him to put some distance between himself and any future challengers.
Van Scoy pinned 42 of the 47 opponents he faced last season, placed third at Mat Classic and compiled a 46-1 record.
He will seek a fourth state medal as a senior.
Stanwood also boasts the area’s lone returning state champion in Chanel Siva, who won the girls 235-pound title.
Regional sites set
The WIAA has posted the sites for the regional round of the 2020 state tournament, and only Wesco 4A’s qualifiers will be competing for state berths close to home.
The Wesco 4A will join the South Puget Sound League (SPSL) 4A at Glacier Peak High School on Feb. 14. Wesco 3A North will head to Bonney Lake High School along with the Northwest Conference 3A and the Pierce County League, and Wesco 3A South will join KingCo 3A and Greater St. Helens League 3A at Kelso High School.
Wesco’s 2A programs (Mountlake Terrace, Cedarcrest, Archbishop Murphy) will compete at Tumwater with Evergreen 2A and the Greater St. Helens League 2A, and the North Sound Conference will be at Klahowya for the 1A regional with the Northwest Conference, Nisqually League and the Olympic Conference.
Darrington will join all of the 2B/1B programs in Districts 1-4 at Kalama High School. All of the area’s girls will compete at Sedro-Woolley High School in one of four state qualifying tournaments.