Sports

4 Falcons off to Mat Classic

Chris Martin wrestles in a winning bout at the North Cascades Conference district meet two weeks ago. He placed fourth at the Region 1 meet Saturday and will wrestle at the state meet this weekend. - Matt Johnson
Chris Martin wrestles in a winning bout at the North Cascades Conference district meet two weeks ago. He placed fourth at the Region 1 meet Saturday and will wrestle at the state meet this weekend.
— image credit: Matt Johnson

“There’s good wrestlers out there, but I plan on beating them all.”

Brandon Hern had a pretty strong feeling about his chances at state after the Region 1 2A tournament Saturday. One of four South Whidbey High School wrestlers to qualify for this week’s state meet, Hern is the best the Falcons have ever had. On Friday and Saturday, he may be the best wrestler anyone has ever seen on a Washington Interscholastic Athletic Association mat.

Now 33-0 for the season at 189 pounds and 64-1 during the past two years, the Falcon senior breezed through three matches on the regionals mat at Mountlake Terrace. By pinning Vashon’s Sam Wolcik in his first match of the day, outpointing Vashon’s Evan Mattingly 14-0, and dissecting Nooksack Valley’s Tyler Marshall 9-0 in the championship round of the state’s toughest wrestling regional, Hern left no doubt that he will be a state champion for the second year in a row.

But Hern may not be alone on the medal podium Saturday night when the Washington State Mat Classic crowns its winners. During South Whidbey’s 10th-place team performance at the regional, Chris Long, Chris Martin and Ben Harris all placed well enough to earn matches at the Tacoma Dome this week.

Long, a junior who has built himself into one of the top wrestlers in the state at 145 pounds, placed second at the regional meet. After pinning a Klahowya wrestler in a first-round match and edging Port Townsend’s Chase Snyder 7-5 in the second, he earned a championship bout against Nooksack’s B.J. Vavra. After losing 9-6 to Vavra the week before at the NCC district meet, Long tried to turn the tables, but had to settle for runner up when the Pioneer outlasted him 8-3 in three rounds.

Clearly on his way back from a mid-season shoulder injury, Chris Martin took fourth at the regional. After winning a first-round 215-pound match 3-2 against Foster’s Jason Mothen and losing 4-3 in the second round against John Edwards of Lakewood, he received an injury default that put into the consolation final. Again one point was the difference as he lost 3-4. But the close matches proved that Martin’s strength and endurance were returning.

Earning a more precarious state spot was Ben Harris. The 152 pounder won a fifth-sixth place bout 10-4 in the consolation bracket over Orting’s John Kelly just a few hours after beating Kelly 8-7 in the first round. Slated for a pig-tale match — a single-elimination bout — at the Mat Classic, Harris has to win to make it into the general bracket.

Out for part of the season due to an injury, Harris said he is working on conditioning this week.

“It’s pretty much a catchup,” he said.

Also placing at the region meet was Conley White, whose sixth-place finish at 119 pounds qualifies him as an alternate at state.

The Mat Classic starts Friday in Tacoma. Championship bouts will take place Saturday afternoon and evening.

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