Stanwood’s Phillips earns berth on World cadet wrestling team

AKRON, Ohio — The wrestling career of Stanwood’s Mason Phillips reached a new peak on Friday, as the senior-to-be won the Greco-Roman championship in the 63-kilogram (139-pound) weight class at the United World Wrestling (UWW) Cadet and University Nationals.

Phillips’ victory means that he will represent the United States at the Cadet World Championships this September in Athens, Greece.

And there still could be more glory to come.

Phillips will compete in the freestyle competition Saturday and Sunday, where the winner also earns a spot on the World team.

“It’s awesome. I don’t even know if someone from Washington has ever been on a World team,” Phillips said. “It’s not only huge for me, but for our state. It’s something I’ve always wanted and always dreamed of, but I never knew if it was something that I could really do. To actually get to be one of those kids is just awesome.”

Phillips received a first-round bye in the tournament, and made an emphatic statement with his first victory, a 9-0 technical fall over New York’s David Berkovich, a match that was stopped after 43 seconds.

He then defeated Aaden Valdez of Colorado in an 8-0 technical fall in the quarterfinals, needing only 24 seconds to move into the semifinals.

Phillips’ semifinal opponent, Anthony Ulaszek of Colorado, presented a challenge because of his height advantage, but Phillips defeated him 7-1 to advance to the best-of-3 championship round against Trevor Mansfield of South Carolina.

Phillips earned a 10-1 technical fall in 31 seconds in the first match, then sealed the title with a 7-2 decision.

He allowed four points combined in his five matches.

Not bad for a guy who almost gave up Greco-Roman wrestling completely last year.

“Before Fargo last year, I didn’t wrestle Greco in any tournaments, and I didn’t want to do it there, but my coaches put me in it and said to use it as a warmup and just have fun. I wound up winning,” Phillips said. “I started getting more into it and I watched a lot of it in the Olympics. Wrestling with (coach) Harry (Lester) the last three months and his knowledge of Greco and specific Greco techniques has made me a much better Greco wrestler.”

Phillips said having his parents, Brad and Joan Phillips, in the crowd cheering him on Friday made the moment that much sweeter.

“They weren’t in Fargo when I won there, and it was awesome to finally have them here to watch me win a big tournament,” he said.

Phillips said his victory Friday and guaranteed trip to Greece will take some of the pressure off for his freestyle competition Saturday and Sunday, but the objective is the same.

“I think I’ll be a little more calm and relaxed,” he said. “But I’ve signed up for the tournament and weighed in, so now I’ve got to go out there, beat everyone and win it.”

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