Mead sophomore Jason Rogers and University senior Ryan Zumwalt are best friends, having met through wrestling and solidifying their friendship at church and a youth camp.
Competing a weight apart last year they talked about winning back-to-back state titles. Rogers got his first at 140 pounds, Zumwalt lost a controversial final at 145.
They are still a weight apart – Zumwalt up one to 152, Rogers up three to 160, which, as luck would have it, thrust him into the same class as U-Hi defending champion Jake Mason. Their mission remains the same. Both Zumwalt and Rogers were victorious Saturday evening during the combined District 4A and subregional 3A tournament championships at Mead.
U-Hi’s Titans, who had 12 finalists and advanced 16 wrestlers, led 4A regional qualifying with a 420-324.5 team victory over Mead’s Panthers.
Greater Spokane League schools were dominant during the 3A tourney that included Columbia Basin Big Nine schools Sunnyside, West Valley-Yakima and Hanford, earning 41 of 56 regional berths. North Central was the team champ with 304.5 points in spirited competition with league foes East Valley and Shadle Park.
District 8 4A
U-Hi’s dominance wasn’t unexpected. The state-title-contending Titans had three successive champions to open finals competition and totaled six overall.
Pivotal early was the 112 feature between juniors, Central Valley’s Jarod Maynes, who has placed third at state twice, and U-Hi’s Tyler Clark, fourth in state as a freshman, but who missed the tournament last year.
Sandwiched between wins by teammates Nick Gabel and Brandon Byers, Clark got a first-period takedown and made it stand up for a 3-2 triumph.
Zumwalt breezed through his weight class with two pins and a technical fall, then watched as Rogers evened his stirring series with Mason that could extend to six meetings before the season ends.
“When my best friend and teammate wrestle, I keep quiet,” said Zumwalt, adding he roots for both to win.
When the two defending state champions took center stage, it was a typical barn burner. Mason, who won the first two meetings, and Rogers were scoreless for a round and tied 2-2 after two as Mason had two escapes and Rogers a takedown.
The Panthers’ sophomore escaped in the third period and countered Mason’s throw attempt for two points and 5-2 triumph.
“I think Greco (wrestling) definitely helped,” Rogers said. “You get used to scrambling out of throws.”
Dustin Johnson (189) and Jake Laden (285) were champions in all-U-Hi finals. The Titans had finalists at 130, 135 and 171 as well as four third-placers who advance to Saturday’s regional in Richland, where three wrestlers per weight advance to state.
“I thought it was possible to have 12 finalists, maybe 14,” Titans coach Don Owen said. “I felt we showed up for the fight today and wrestled solidly. We won the ‘should-haves’ impressively, some of our underdogs won and the ones who lost went down fighting.”
Mead state champion Jake Trotter (215), state placer Jeremy Golding (125), veteran Ben Snow (145) and freshman Tyler McLean (130) were also district winners. The Panthers advanced 10 to regional.
Ferris had three champions, Brandon Riehle by pin over U-Hi’s Kevin Harder in another GSL feature at 135, Scott Davis at 140 and Russell Stinson at 171.
Third-place Central Valley, with 285 points, qualified nine to regional.
The back story at Mead, as it has been all season, is the emergence of GSL schools as wrestling forces.
It really showed in the subregional at which Spokane earned 23 of 28 finals berths, won 11 of 14 titles, and secured the vast majority of spots to next weekend’s regional in Yakima.
They’ll compete with schools from District 1, a northwest Washington wrestling power.
“Six or seven of the top 10 teams in state are in our region,” NC coach Luke Leifer said. “If we get through that, it should mean placing (at Mat Classic in Tacoma).”
NC’s Indians put eight wrestlers into the finals at Mead, getting victories from returning state finalists Nathan Brown (135) and Ben Carter (171), two-time placer Jared Berlinger (119), plus junior Sam Rykken (160).
Brown, despite an 18-6 triumph over Mt. Spokane’s Wyatt McGuire, was not satisfied with his effort.
“I felt gassed,” he said. “I had felt great the whole tournament and had him on his back four or five times the first two rounds, then let it get into my head.”
Berlinger and Carter won by pin. NC suffered a couple of tough losses in other matches.
“We got 11 through, but I was hoping for a few more,” Leifer said. “But you can’t have every match go your way. For the most part I was pleased.”
So too were coaches Shawn Howard and Craig Hanson of Shadle Park and East Valley.
Shadle’s Highlanders had four district champions – state placer Darren Bunke (130), Brendan Tarr (145), Adam Price (152) and Dylan Lemery (189) – and a school-record 10 wrestlers advanced to regional.
“Last year during the offseason we all did freestyle,” Bunke said. “We’ve all pushed each other to get better.”
East Valley went through its struggles with the dismissal of several state veterans, but the Knights finished second in district with 264.5 points (to Shadle’s 256.5) and has 11 regional qualifiers.
“I predicted seven to 10,” Hanson said. “We set the bar a little bit high, so they were positive going in.”
Veterans Sean Biltoft (135) and Aaron Brown (140) won back to back, the latter by pin.
“We overcame a lot of bad things,” Biltoft said. “It put a little fire in us.”
The GSL’s 11th district champion was Rogers’ Vang Lor, a 6-4 victor over EV’s Jaren Novakovich. Mt. Spokane had four finalists and six regional qualifiers. Rogers advanced three.
District 7 2A
Deer Park dominated competition at West Valley, scoring 397.5 points, nearly double runner-up Cheney’s 226. The Blackhawks topped Riverside, the Great Northern League dual match runner-up, by two points.
The Stags had 11 finalists with both at 103, 140 and 189. Defending state champions Blake Adams (119) and Billy Rhoads (140) captured their weight classes for Deer Park, as did Quinn Tate-Gannon, West Valley’s defending champ, at 130 over Riverside state placer Brenton Beard.
In a shocker, Clarkston’s Devin Norland caught state champion Shawn Burton of DP for a pin in 57 seconds at 285.
Regional tournament is next weekend at WV and qualifies five per weight to state.
District 7 1A
At Newport, Lakeside (Nine Mile Falls) had seven individual champions and scored 280 points to hold off regular-season Northeast A League champion Chewelah, which finished with 266.
Lakeside’s Eagles got titles from state-placing veterans Michael Baumgarden at 119 and Josh Lauderdale at 135, both by pin. In the 140-pound class, Lakeside senior Jacob Judd edged sophomore teammate Josh Judd in overtime. Chewelah had three individual champs.
The region 1A tournament is next week at Tonasket and qualifies four wrestlers per weight to state.
South B subregional
Reardan’s Indians finished a close second to Kittitas, 273.5-266.5 in the tourney at Ritzville. They qualifies wrestlers to the east regional in Kittitas that advances five wrestlers per weight to state.
The Indians had four champions among 10 finalists – Nate Sorci (103), Kaare Anderson (130), Logan Zunker (135) and, Wyatt Anderson (145). Kittitas had six champions. Lind-Ritzville’s Herson Rodriguez won at 140.