From the beginning of the season, the goal of every high school wrestler is to make the state tournament. On Saturday, 10 East County wrestlers realized that goal by earning spots at the Mat Classic.
Senior Tanner Sample, 126; senior Tyson Dick, 145; and senior Brek McGaughy, 220; all won a regional championship for Elma, while freshman Jacob Ellefson, 113, brought home the only championship for Montesano at the Region I Class 1A Wrestling tournament in Blaine on Saturday.
“They wrestled great,” Elma coach Jason Dick said. “We had three champions out of three finalists.”
The most dominant performance at the regional from an East County wrestler came from Tyson Dick, who pinned his first opponent and then outscored his next two opponents by 15 points. In the final, Dick registered 15 points in just two minutes and 13 seconds to defeat Javier Contreras of Forks.
“He just wrestled out of his mind,” Jason Dick said. “He is wrestling up right now and that is what you want.”
Sample defeated Reilly Fritsch of Blaine, 3-2, to take home the title at 126, and McGaughy edged Joel Ward of Forks, 5-4, for the 220-pound championship.
Montesano’s only championship came from the only Bulldog wrestler who is still undefeated. Ellefson defeated Alvaro Ortiz of Forks, 10-4, for the championship at 113 pounds.
“He is looking really good going into the state championship,” Monte coach Jeff Klinger said. “He has been consistent all year.”
The only other Elma wrestler who was able to qualify for the Mat Classic was senior Austin Cristelli. The senior took third at 152 pounds.
Montesano had five other wrestlers qualify for the state tournament, with freshman Austin Cain, 132; sophomore Kylar Prante, 160; and freshman Taylor Rupe, 195; each finishing in second place.
Prante led 1-0 over Jon Stewart of Blaine with just seconds left in the match, but was assessed a penalty point and the match went into overtime. After neither wrestler was able to score in the first overtime, Prante lost 4-3 in the second overtime.
Freshman Tyler Izatt, 106, and junior Anthony Louthan, 170, each finished third at the regional and will also move onto the state tournament.
“I thought we wrestled well,” Klinger said. “All year long we have been talking about just advancing and getting into the state tournament and going out and trying to get a medal. They were all great matches. Some just didn’t go our way. It is a big accomplishment if you make the finals at the regional tournament and guarantee yourself a spot at the state tournament. I think looking back they will be happy with how they did overall. Hopefully it gives them desire and a push to go at the Mat Classic.”
Both Klinger and Jason Dick said their teams are peaking at the right time as the state tournament approaches. For Dick, the goal for each of his wrestlers has been to have a plaque with their name on it next to all of the plaques of the state champions in the Elma wrestling room.
“I’m looking forward to see how these kids do,” Jason Dick said. “This is why we work all year. I tell all the kids it is no longer about advancing anymore, what number do you want up on the wall? It is going to be fun to watch them go.”
For Ellefson, much of his life has been spent on the mat as he has come up in the USA wrestling program. While he is looking just to place at the state tournament, a championship would be a prize he would remember for years to come.
“It would mean the world to me,” Ellefson said. “Everything I’ve put into wrestling, it would be something to show.”