MONROE — The Snohomish girls wrestling team had to sweat it out until the end, but it was well worth the wait.
After a nail-biting finish, the Panthers brought home a regional championship Saturday.
Three different Snohomish wrestlers claimed individual titles and three more solidified berths to Mat Classic XXXV as the Panthers piled up 129 team points to secure a shared title with Oak Harbor at the Class 3A/4A Girls Region 1 Tournament at Monroe High School.
In the process, Snohomish also earned town bragging rights, edging third-place school district rival Glacier Peak by a single point.
“(Tonight’s result) totally met my expectations,” Snohomish head coach Jordan Ottow said. “We only brought nine girls. We’re not big in numbers, but I feel like we pack a punch. … I’m super proud of the way the girls bought into this program.”
Chloe Cahan, one of two Panthers seniors advancing to state, topped her 140-pound bracket and beat Edmonds-Woodway junior Grace Fitting by decision, 7-0, in the title match.
“You want to see (the seniors) be able to get that success,” Ottow said, “and be able to wrestle at the state tournament and compete.”
Cahan scored her first three wins of the day by pinfall.
“I was hopeful to try and show myself and work really hard to just keep putting myself out there to do better,” Cahan said. “This year’s regionals was noticeably harder. There were a lot tougher girls here. … I was really excited to wrestle girls that I haven’t gotten the opportunity to wrestle yet.”
Freshman Malia Ottow handily won her 115-pound bracket by pinning all thee of her opponents. She controlled Marysville Getchell junior Kira Songer, a defending regional champion and state runner-up, and built a commanding 12-1 lead in the first period of their title match. She went up 14-3 in the second and finished it off with a pin.
“(This) whole season I’ve just been focusing on one goal: state champ … and doing all the extra stuff (that) everyone else is not doing and just seeing where it takes me,” Malia Ottow said.
Sophomore Jillian Hradec stayed solid through her 155-pound category. She pinned her first opponent and had her semifinal and final matches end by two-point decisions in her favor. Hradec outlasted Issaquah’s Chloe Bayley, 3-1, in her championship match.
“My main goal was to show that I can do this,” said Hradec, who finished as the runner-up last year. “What kept me going is … thinking about all the things that have helped me get to this point.”
After a banner showing a regionals, the Panthers hope to keep their momentum going at state.
“We just try to stay focused on doing the best that we can and let it fall where it falls,” Jordan Ottow said about his team’s goal heading into Mat Classic. “We want to win, like we are coming to win. But that’s not what we’re thinking during the day. We’re thinking next takedown (and) your next match is your most important match. That’s what we’re going after.”
Senior champions lead 3rd-place team finish for GP
Glacier Peak was in the thick of the team title hunt until the very end of the meet. The Grizzlies (128 points) had to settle for third, but two of their wrestlers earned individual titles.
Karianne Baldwin recorded three consecutive pins to secure her third straight regional title at 125 pounds. Hannah Hader overcame a late deficit and avenged her sub-regional title loss on her way to winning the championship at 120 pounds.
Baldwin’s run was never in much doubt, and she got stronger as the day went on. She won her first match by pin in the third period, the following match by pin in the second and topped it off with a first-period pin of Arlington senior Danielle Crew in the championship match.
Baldwin, a two-time state champion, heads into next week’s Mat Classic with a chance to tie 2023 Marysville Pilchuck graduate Alivia White for the Snohomish County girls record of three state titles.
“My mind is focused on (a) state title,” Baldwin said.
The senior is soaking in her final matches in a Grizzlies uniform.
“The season has been really exciting but also really sad because it’s the last time,” Baldwin said “… You get attached to your teammates, the coaches and everyone that you’re working with. I really love the school, the program, and I’m going to miss it a lot.”
Hader trailed 5-0 in the second period of her title bout with Mount Vernon senior Parker Halgren, who had beaten Hader for a sub-regional title last week. With the match in doubt, Hader countered out of a precarious position on bottom and quickly secured a surprise pin with 20 seconds left in the period.
“I really wanted this,” Hader said. “It was kind of a revenge match, but not out of hate, out of excitement and aggression. That was amazing. I’m elated.”
Hader is heading to the state tournament for the third straight season and hopes to break through as a first-time state-placer next week.
“I think I have a real chance of accomplishing my goals,” she said.
Freshman Cameron Erdmann joined Baldwin and Hader as finalists but fell by first-period pin to Hazen’s Vina Nguyen at 100 pounds.
Everett sophomore claims 2nd regional title
There was no stopping Mia Cienega in the 190-pound bracket.
The Everett sophomore bulldozed her way through the competition and needed less than 6 combined minutes to score three pins on her way to claiming her second career regional title.
Cienega, last year’s 235-pound regional champion and state runner-up, found herself at a rare disadvantage trailing Shorewood sophomore Abigaele Chishungu 3-2 in the first period of their title match. But Cienega found her spot to gain the upper-hand and worked her way to a pin at the 1:44 mark of the first.
“Honestly, I’m just a really good scrambler,” Cienega said. “I get in all sorts of awkward positions, but when I see an opportunity, I take it. She was a little off-balance (and) I had a stronger base, so I took advantage of that.”
Cienega said she had always planned to drop down to 190, but not until her junior season. She made a late decision to do so this season based off advice from club coach Tony Nunez at Ascend Wrestling Academy.
“With 190, there’s a lot more movement, everything’s a little faster and we’re all a little more nimble,” Cienega said. “I think that’s what makes it fun.”
Cienega hopes the regional title isn’t the last gold medal she wears this winter.
“I’m going for gold this year,” she said of next weekend’s Mat Classic. “That’s my goal that I’ve been working towards since last year. I plan on winning this year.”
Lake Stevens sophomore brings home 110-pound title
Kamryn Mason had a feeling her championship match could be a down-to-the-wire, low-scoring affair.
Mason matched up with a familiar opponent in Shorewood sophomore Finley Houck, who she’d faced multiple times over the past two seasons, in the 110-pound title match.
After two scoreless periods that saw both wrestlers hesitant to go on the offensive, Mason did just enough to score the bout’s first points and hold on for the victory. The Lake Stevens sophomore nabbed two points on a reversal from the bottom position early in the third and closed out the match with a sound effort to prevent Houck, the 105-pound regional champion last season, from generating any offensive momentum in a 2-0 victory by decision.
“I just needed to stay on top and make sure she didn’t get the two points,” Mason said, “because that could change the whole match.”
The victory sealed up Mason’s first career regional title.
Freshman Kylee Wicklund also reached a final but fell by first-period pin to Oak Habor senior Anabelle Suto.
Shorewood junior breaks through wall for 2nd regional title
Libby Norton was in for a tough title match against Kamiak senior Rebecca Serati, a regional runner-up last year, and early on it looked as if Norton’s hopes for a second regional title were in serious doubt.
Norton trailed Serati 6-1 in the final period and needed major push to make the comeback. She did just that.
Norton got a takedown and points from nearfalls to pull out an 8-6 win.
“I’m a Norton, and Nortons don’t give up. And I wanted to be a two-time regional champion,” Norton said passionately. “I just thought to myself everyone has that wall, that wall that they can’t break through. And I knew that I was at that wall. I just needed to break it.”
Other locals in finals
Marysville Pilchuck senior Casey Kuchera fell via second-period pin to Bellevue’s Josephine Ives at 145 pounds.
Stanwood senior Riley Ost suffered a first-period pin against Oak Harbor junior Olivia Hudson at 235 pounds.