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A year after four Falcon wrestlers qualified for the 2003 state championship meet as sophomores and juniors at a regional meet held at Mountlake Terrace High School, they were back Saturday to do it all over again. Nothing like believing in second chances.
Each wrestling a full weight class higher than they did at last years Region 1 meet, seniors Ben Harris, Phil Schorr and Conley White, and junior Tyler Rueth, did what was expected of them and a bit more as they all earned top-five placings to earn trips to the 2004 Mat Classic in Tacoma. Together, the four along with placer junior Kyle Calkins earned 75 team points to take eighth out of 14 teams. The Falcons were fifth at the meet in 2003.
Schorr was one of the overachievers as he became the first Falcon to win back-to-back championships since two-time state champion Brandon Hern. Last years champion at 103 pounds, Schorr fought his way to a hard-won championship at 112 pounds, defeating Brandon Monteith of Mount Baker in a 6-3 final.
Harris, who was a runner-up at 160 pounds in 2003, pinned opponents in the first two rounds of the tournament to earn a championship showdown with Paul Rudisky of Vashon the top-ranked 171-pound 2A wrestler in the state for most of the season. In a bout that seesawed briefly in the first round, Harris was cagey, giving up two takedown points to start before escaping and making a takedown of his own to put himself in the lead permanently.
Potentially outleveraged by the spidery, 6-foot, 5-inch Rudisky, Harris at a 5-inch disadvantage gave up nothing as the bout progressed. In the second round, he went up 5-2 by reversing Rudisky. From there, it was a stalemate as the opponents scored two points each in the third round.
The meeting was the first between the two wrestlers this season. Falcon coach Wes Helseth said they will most likely meet again at the Mat Classic.
Also making gains over his performance at last years region meet was White, who improved from fifth place at 130 pounds to third at 135. Getting there was a challenge on several levels. Paired off against Micah Sohl of Vashon in the first round, White not only had to wrestle, but to defend himself against an opponent who, in the words of Helseth, was in the bout with an intent to injure. At one point in the bout, Sohl put an illegal thumb hold on White, causing a sprain. Over the course of three rounds, the referee stopped the match on two injury timeouts before White outpointed his opponent.
Despite the injury, White made it into the tournaments consolation final, in which he beat Will Bringgold of Port Townsend 8-5 for third place.
South Whidbeys final state qualifier, Rueth, just barely made the state cut with a fifth-place finish at 119 pounds. A third-place finisher at 112 last year, the Falcon junior earned his second trip to the state meet with a 9-5 finals victory over John Bradly of Blaine.
Earning an alternates slot at the Mat Classic was 160-pound junior Kyle Calkins, who lost a fifth-sixth-place final 11-4 to Ervin Lee of Lakewood. Calkins will wrestle at the Mat Classic should any other 160-pound qualifier from Region 1 be unable to wrestle.
Commenting on the meet and his teams result, Coach Helseth said his team competed well, considering the meet fell behind schedule due to a fire alarm during the tournaments first round. Championship rounds were completed after 7 p.m.
The state Mat Classic begins on Friday at the Tacoma Dome. Wrestling starts at 10 a.m. both on Friday and on Saturday.