Rieben headed to Mat Classic XVI

  • Charlie Laughtland<br>Enterprise writer
  • Friday, February 29, 2008 10:52am

David Rieben’s days of playing catch-up are long gone.

In seasons past, the Shorecrest senior was carrying too much excess weight and had fallen too far behind in his studies to make a serious run at the state wrestling championships.

Not any more.

Rieben shed some pounds, beefed up his grade-point average and saw the results pay off in a major way on the wrestling mats this winter.

His reward for applying himself in the weight room and the classroom was a fourth-place showing at last weekend’s Class 3A Region I tournament and a ticket to Mat Classic XVI.

“It’s been a goal of mine since freshman year,” Rieben said of earning his first state berth. “I finally got my weight down and my grades up.”

Before this year, Rieben’s weight was as unpredictable as his performance. He wrestled at 215 pounds as a freshman, 275 as a sophomore and 189 as a junior and never advanced past the sub-regional level.

This season Rieben has been an absolute force at the 171-pound weight class. He takes a 28-9 record into the state tournament and notched his 16th and 17th pins at regionals Feb. 14 at Liberty High School in Renton.

“He was a little disappointed he didn’t make it to the finals, but I told him not to worry,” Shorecrest coach Marcus Requa said. “Regionals wasn’t his goal, getting to state was.”

Rieben opened the tournament by flattening Newport’s Andy Sandhu at the 4:50 mark of the third round.

Mercer Island’s John Dixon outlasted Rieben for a 10-6 decision in the semifinals. Dixon broke a 2-all tie with a flurry of points in the second round, then held off Rieben in a scoreless final round.

“It was pretty close,” Rieben said. “I just couldn’t get in the right position.”

Rieben then pinned Mt. Si’s Seth Merritt in a loser-out consolation match eight seconds into the third round to secure a top-four finish and a state berth.

In the third/fourth place match, Rieben was paired against Squalicum’s Gabe Rader, who he pinned a week earlier at the Northwest District sub-regional tournament.

But Rader took a narrow 4-2 lead into the third round and held on for a hard-fought 7-3 decision in the rematch.

“I wasn’t in the right mind-set to be wrestling,” Rieben said. “Some matches you’re there and sometimes you’re not.”

“Gabe changed his game plan and David didn’t,” added Requa.

Rieben and Lynnwood’s Tesir Alhussaini were the only two Western Conference South Division wrestlers to come out of the 3A regional tournament.

As a No. 4 seed, Rieben drew Region IV champion Joe Evans of Sunnyside in the opening round of the state championships today at the Tacoma Dome.

“I’m confident David can come back and get the job done,” Requa said.

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