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Three Falcon wrestlers make Mat Classic
Oh, what could have been for the South Whidbey wrestling team.
Three Falcons qualified for the 1A state wrestling tournament, known as the Mat Classic, after finishing in the top four of their weights in 1A Region 1. And two more will go as alternates, though one was a single point away from a guaranteed spot.
“Beck should have been third place in the region,” said Falcon head coach Jim Thompson of 182-pound senior Beck Davis.
“It would have been amazing to have a guy in only his second year [of wrestling] make it.”
After losing a close battle in the first round, a 2-0 drop to Forks senior Gavin Castenada, Davis worked his way through the consolation bracket. Looking at a third-place finish at best and an elimination at worst, he pinned his next opponent, Montesano sophomore Aavin Howell.
Then came the decisive and controversial match against Blaine senior Tanner Anthony, the 15th-ranked 182-pound wrestler in 1A, according to rankings by washingtonwrestlingreport.com. Tied 8-8 in the third period with seconds remaining, Davis was underneath Anthony. He stood up, but could not escape Anthony’s grasp. In Thompson’s opinion, it should have been a point for an escape, but the call never came from the referee, and the match went into an extra period.
Anthony and Davis battled in the sudden-death, first-to-score wins round, but Anthony got a late takedown to advance to the third-place bout, knocking Davis to the alternate match.
“It was a horrible feeling,” Davis said. “I’m kind of bummed, but I’m hoping to wrestle.”
One of the surprises for South Whidbey was junior Pierce Jackson, who qualified in the 285. Jackson pinned his first opponent in a dominant performance, according to Thompson.
“After the first heavyweight match, I looked at Paul [Newman, the assistant coach] and said, ‘Shoot, Pierce is gonna go,’ ” Thompson said.
Forks junior Miguel Morales made it a little difficult, however, as the second-ranked 1A heavyweight pinned Jackson, sending the Falcon to the consolation bracket.
Facing elimination, Jackson pinned Mount Baker freshman Kole Hickey to advance to the third-place bout. He lost his next match but still finished in fourth place, a state-qualifying spot.
If ever there was a guaranteed state tournament wrestler this season, it was Falcon senior Andy Madsen. Thompson, who jokingly said that he would have bet his house that Madsen would qualify, said the 145-pound senior rolled through his opposition, save for one close near fall that wasn’t called. Madsen pinned his first opponent, but missed out on a three-second call on a tilt that would have given Madsen two points for a near fall.
“If there’s one weakness in Andy’s game, it’s that he’s not great on his feet,” Thompson said.
Instead, Forks junior Javier Contreras moved on with a 4-2 victory to the championship match. Bumped to the elimination round, Madsen pinned Tenino junior Zeb Chamberlain to advance to the third-place match against his teammate, senior Kyrell Broyles.
It was the second time in as many weeks the two squared off for third place. Last week in the District 1 tournament, Madsen defeated his teammate. Other teams with two of their own wrestlers facing each other opted to have one forfeit rather than risk injury or tire their wrestlers. In this case, Thompson let them go at it. Madsen won, 13-1, but both will travel to Tacoma this Thursday.
South Whidbey’s other alternate is senior James Itaya in the 152. Losing the first round in a lopsided 13-3 match against Elma senior Austin Cristel, Itaya had some work ahead of him. He pinned Forks sophomore Joel Mohn, lost 19-5 to Rochester junior Juan Jimenez, but recovered for the fifth-place finish against Nooksack Valley sophomore Jared Parson with an 11-2 win.
“James being an alternate, that was a surprise,” Thompson said. “I knew he had it in him though.”
For South Whidbey, sending five wrestlers to the state tournament was a long time coming. The last occasion Thompson remembered taking five wrestlers to Tacoma was 2008.
“I’m happier than hell,” he said.
The Mat Classic XXVI, a tournament that sprawls across the Tacoma Dome and across classifications, begins Saturday, Feb. 21.