TACOMA — Chanel Siva never wrestles without a plan.
Before the Stanwood junior takes the mat, she and Spartans girls coach Todd Freeman formulate a specific game plan for each opponent, and scout potential at the large girls tournaments around the state each year.
“We had seen all 32 girls in her bracket except one,” Freeman said. “I always ask her, ‘Do you have a plan?’ Sometimes the plan changes, but if the other girl has high-octane moves, she does too. If they want to slow it down, we can do that too.”
In her 235-pound championship bout on Saturday at Mat Classic XXXI in the Tacoma Dome, a change of plan led to a state championship.
Siva earned a third-period escape and held on to beat Thomas Jefferson’s Goddess Ma’alona-Faletogo 3-2 to capture Stanwood’s first girls state championship since Laura Charboneau won the 265-pound title in 2012.
Heading into her match with Ma’alona-Faletogo, Siva planned to focus on head control. But Ma’alona-Faletogo’s strong core and superior size prompted an adjustment.
“Halfway through we switched to more of a two-on-one going side-to-side, and we tried to take away that front headlock that Goddess likes to go to,” Freeman said. “I think that was the difference.”
Siva, who placed fifth in the 235-pound bracket last season, also needed to adjust her style of wrestling to accommodate Ma’alona-Faletogo, who is blind. The match started with both wrestlers hands touching, and Siva had to maintain contact with Ma’alona-Faletogo throughout the match. If contact was broken, the official would blow the whistle for a restart.
Siva is a smaller heavyweight, and typically relies on her speed and agility to out-maneuver bigger opponents. That was negated by having to stay in touching distance with Ma’alona-Faletogo.
“Goddess is really strong but also has really good technique,” Siva said. “There was a lot of digging deep and wanting it.”
After having her hand raised as a state champion, an assistant coach handed Siva an American Samoa flag, which she raised aloft in tribute to her heritage and her family that still lives on the island.
“I was born here, but I have deep family ties there,” Siva said.
Hubby beaten in the finals
Lake Stevens junior Kiley Hubby knows Mat Classic XXXI is going to sting for a while.
But she’s only going to let herself feel the pain of falling short of a second state title for so long, though. She still has work to do.
Hubby lost 3-1 in sudden victory to Union’s Annabelle Helm in the 170-pound girls championship.
Hubby, a nationally-ranked junior who won a championship at 145 pounds while wrestling for Glacier Peak last season, was leaning forward when Helm shot the winning takedown.
“She got a little bit out in front of her skis and gave up a takedown at the end,” Lake Stevens coach Brent Barnes said. “It basically comes down to that. She did a great job earlier hand-fighting.”
Hubby and Helm are familiar opponents; both wrestled for clubs in the offseason — Hubby for Snohomish-based Bad Draw Wrestling Club and Helm with Southwest Washington Wrestling Club in the Battle Ground area.
“I know Annabelle — we’ve been wrestling with each other in the summer, so I knew she was a tough opponent,” Hubby said. “I wasn’t expecting her to win or anything, but I knew it was just going to be a tough match. I was ready for that. She got the win and I’m super proud of her and really happy for her.”
Hubby was dominant on her way to the finals with three pins and one major decision. But Helm — who placed third in 2018 at 145 pounds — used her height, strength and athleticism to keep even with Hubby.
One crucial moment came with just eight seconds left in the second period, when Helm escaped to break a scoreless tie. Hubby matched her escape point with one of her own with 1 minute and 20 seconds left in the third period.
Helm was the aggressor in overtime.
“She was hungry and she came out firing,” Hubby said.
On three different occasions this season, a matchup between Marysville Pilchuck’s Cayden White and Bethel’s Josh Walker, two of the state’s elite 170-pound wrestlers, seemed inevitable.
All three times it never materialized.
At the Gut Check Challenge, the MP Premier and the cancelled regional tournament that would have included White’s Tomahawks and Walker’s Braves, circumstances conspired to postpone the meeting.
The two finally met in the state finals, and Walker proved too strong, too quick and too athletic for White in a 10-2 major decision.
Walker got the first takedown of the match, and as so often happens, carried that momentum through the bout.
“That kind of forced Cayden to change his game plan pretty early,” Marysville Pilchuck coach Craig Iversen said. “(Walker was just incredibly athletic.”
In the title bout at 126 pounds, North Central’s Clayton Gilliam took control early on against Edmonds-Woodway senior Grayson LeCompte and never relinquished it in a 10-1 major decision.
“When you give up the first takedown of a match, it’s very hard to come back and win at this level,” Warriors coach Brian Alfi said. “And then when you get down 5-0, the complexion of the match changes again. (Gilliam) didn’t have to open up or put himself at risk. And he didn’t. He’s a smart kid who’s been in the finals four times. It’s tough.”
Gilliam, competing in the finals for the fourth time in his prep career, won his second championship Saturday.
He also won the 120-pound crown as a sophomore in 2017. LeCompte (37-7) placed eighth in the same bracket, and finished third at 126 last season.
Sultan junior Aidan Fleming became a part of state wrestling history, albeit in defeat, in the final at 132 pounds, putting up a good fight in a 3-1 loss to Colville’s Trent Baun, who won his fourth state championship with the victory.
Baun became the 16th wrestler in state history to accomplish the feat, and the first since Dalton Young of Lakeside (9 Mile Falls) did so in 2017.
Baun earned a takedown on the edge of the mat in the first period and an escape in the second, and was only threatened for the last few seconds of the bout after Fleming picked up an escape to come within a takedown of tying the match.
“I saw that he missed a big part of the season with a back injury, so I thought I might be able to wear him out,” Fleming said. “It was tough because he was always in control of the mat. Thinking about it now, I probably should have taken more chances, but I got to the finals against one of the best wrestlers here.”
Sultan went 0-for-2 in championship bouts Saturday, as 220-pound junior Tyler Deason fell to freshman Gage Cook of Granger 8-2.
Deason couldn’t get much going offensively against Cook, whose agility and quick feet belies his size. He was the national runner-up at the Cadet Greco National Championships in Fargo, North Dakota in July.
“He has rare speed for a guy that big,” Sultan coach Garth MacDicken said. “He moves like a light guy.”
Tonasket’s Isaac Lopez took control in the third period en route to a 5-3 victory over Darrington’s Johnny Franke in the championship bout at 195 pounds.
The final round began with the two wrestlers knotted at two, but Gomez earned an escape and a takedown to take a 5-2 lead, and fended off Franke’s attacks the rest of the way.
Franke finished his junior season with a record of 34-6.