In his years as a successful wrestling coach that included two State 4A championships at Gonzaga Prep, Phil McLean’s teams had never won a regional wrestling tournament.
His Mead Panthers rectified that slight as Greater Spokane League wrestlers and schools did pretty much the expected during a rugged daylong regional 4A tournament against Columbia Basin Big Nine foes.
The Panthers outscored Central Valley 204-181.5 Saturday at Ferris. GSL grapplers picked up half the individual titles and 18 of 42 berths to next weekend’s Mat Classic XXIII in Tacoma.
CV and Mead advance eight and seven wrestlers, respectively, and will be among a number of schools statewide with team title aspirations.
Down in Pasco, the GSL’s small but mighty 3A four-school contingent earned 20 of 42 state berths, its 17 finalists producing nine individual titles.
University won the tournament 240.5-218 over Sunnyside and advanced nine to state in its bid for a repeat team title.
“We were second and third in regional when we won state at Gonzaga,” McLean said. “We’ve knocked off a couple of firsts this year. We had our first Tri-State (tournament) win, our first regional win and we’re a young team. So I’m excited.”
The GSL didn’t have finalists in the first two or last two weight classes, packing its 13 finalists into the middle 10 classes between 119 and 189 pounds.
CV athletes rattled off three successive wins followed by Jeremy Golding’s dramatic 3-2 victory at 135 pounds for Mead.
In head-to-head clashes between GSL foes, Mead won twice more and Ferris state veteran Russell Stinson capped things with a convincing 12-1 win.
CV freshman Colton Orrino got things started with a 5-3 decision over Richland’s Kylar Mars, rallying late from a 3-0 deficit.
Orrino’s reversal with 8 seconds left in the second period got him back in it and he earned a quick escape and takedown in the third, riding out the final 1 minute, 30 seconds of the period.
“It was just him being open,” Orrino said of his early difficulties. “I like to be in close and get ties.”
Once he figured out how to get inside for control, the match was his.
Teammate and senior Jarod Maynes ran roughshod over the 125-pound class with two pins, including one of Chiawana’s Brandon Gonzales in the final, and a technical fall in the semifinals where he put on a takedown clinic, amassing 10.
“I like being on my feet as much as I can and take as many takedowns to break them,” Maynes said.
It was also what he did in the championship match.
The third CV champion, Riverside transfer Brenton Beard, survived a tough 7-5 semifinal before winning handily in the 130-pound match.
“It’s just a good feeling,” he said of his 4A success. “I worked real hard to get there and just thank my coaches and teammates (for making him better).”
Mead’s three titlists followed. Defending state champion Golding fell behind in the second round, tied the match with a reversal and won with a third-period escape of Richland’s Dustin Utecht.
“Utecht’s a beast,” Golding said. “I had to keep my composure and stay mentally in it.”
In a rematch of their district title bout, Mead 160-pounder Sam Voigtlander topped sophomore Tanner Davis, last of six CV finalists, 6-1.
“Now that I’ve accomplished this, I realize how far I can go now,” Voigtlander, a junior, said. “I look at the level of my other teammates and just hope I can get where they are.”
One, Jordan Rogers, was on the mat for all of 4:13 during the day, pinning all three 171-pound foes in the first round. He’s pinned all but two this year during an unbeaten season.
Ferris’ Stinson beat Mead’s fifth finalist and lone senior, Shane Kuykendall, 12-1.
“He’s a real solid wrestler and it was hard to get him out of position,” Stinson said. “Coach (Tim) Owen was saying I’ve got to make it my match.”
Next week, the Panthers and Bears will be among those in the wide-open 4A team challenge.
“Everybody has enough to do a little damage so I think it will be a pretty exciting tournament,” McLean said.
CV’s Tommy Owen, in his first year as coach, said that finishing second to Mead in tournaments this year hasn’t been disappointing.
“Our goal all along says one thing on the (wrestling room) wall: 2011 state champions,” Owen said. “Last week didn’t matter, this week doesn’t matter. It’s a matter of who’s wrestling best at (state).”
University put seven wrestlers into the finals with four champions. Tyler Clark at 112 pounds and Brandon Matlock at 119 were dominant with a pin at 1:31 and 15-0 technical fall, respectively, in their title matches.
Then, at 171 and 215 Jacob Fry and Jake Laden were nearly as dominant, each pinning twice. Laden and North Central state runner-up Anthony Whitmarsh staged a taut final, with Laden prevailing 3-1.
There was one upset, as Shadle Park’s Dylan Lemery (189) reversed a district loss with a 3-1 win over U-Hi’s Dustin Johnson. Both had dominated in their first two regional matches.
Shadle had a strong regional showing for the second year, finishing third with 122 points, four finalists and three champions.
Darren Bunke and Kole Neuhs at 140 and 152 pounds, respectively, won close regional finals – Bunke 4-2 over West Valley-Yakima’s Preston Baich and Neuhs 4-1 over Mt. Spokane’s Austin Pea.
NC had four finalists and two champions. Jared Berlinger avenged his 125-pound district loss to U-Hi’s Ryan Gabel, beating the sophomore 4-3. Mitchell Bocook had three first-period pins, wrestling a total of 3:07 to romp at 135.