TACOMA – Jordan Rogers could only watch the last time he stood under the Tacoma Dome lights.
This helped heal old wounds.
Rogers was his old self again in a familiar environment, easily moving into the semifinals of the State 4A tournament at Mat Classic XXIII Friday.
The junior from Mead High School had to sit out the state wrestling tournament with appendicitis last year, after winning a state championship as a freshman.
He pinned two foes Friday to boost his record to 39-0 in the 171-pound weight class this season.
“I’m just really excited to be back and have a shot at winning a state title,” Rogers said. “The only person who can take a state title from me are my opponents.”
Mead is still in the thick of things in the 4A competition as the Panthers sit tied for third place heading into today.
The Panthers brought seven wrestlers to the tournament and all seven won their first-round matches, five by pin. Four won again in the next round to move on to the semifinals.
Rogers will be joined in the semifinals by his brother, Chandler Rogers (145), Jeremy Golding (135) and Sam Voigtlander (160). Golding won a state title at 130 pounds last year.
Leading the 4A field is Lake Stevens, which qualified five of its 10 wrestlers to the semifinals.
The Vikings lead with 67.5 points, followed by Moses Lake (62) in second, and Central Valley and Mead tied for third at 50.5
“The team race will take care of itself,” Mead coach Phil McLean said.
No matter what, there will be a new 4A champion.
That’s because University took that honor last year before dropping to 3A this school year.
The Titans find themselves in a six-team battle in the 3A race, with Enumclaw leading the way with 66 points and four wrestlers in the semifinals.
University is next with 57.5 points, followed by Sunnyside (53.5), Kelso (52.5), defending champion Yelm (46) and Shadle Park (42).
University finds itself in a position of strength because five Titans advanced to the semifinals, including three wrestlers who finished in the top four last year: Tyler Clark (103), Dustin Johnson (189) and Jake Laden (215). The other U-Hi semifinalists are Brandon Matlock (119) and Jacob Fry (171).
“That’s as good as it gets,” Enumclaw coach Lee Reichert said. “It’s just a dogfight. That makes it fun.”
Shadle Park remains a threat with four semifinalists, and North Central has three.
Semifinal qualifiers for Shadle Park are Terrance McKinney (112), Darren Bunke (140), Kole Nuehs (152) and Dylan Lemery (189). Lemery will have his hands full in the semifinals as he takes on Bishop Blanchet’s Peter Johnson, who is 40-0 this season.
For North Central, the semifinals are Jared Berlinger (125), Anthony Whitmarsh (215) and Mitchell Bocook (135). Berlinger and Whitmarsh each finished second last year.
Deer Park appears well on its way to a fourth consecutive 2A championship. The Stags hold a commanding lead over second-place Centralia and has six wrestlers in the semifinals.
Deer Park, which brought 10 wrestlers to Tacoma, has 73.5 points to Centralia’s 59.5.
Advancing to the semifinals for Deer Park are Jake Konzal (112), Cole Harris (119), Joe Grable (130), Billy Rhoads (145), Dylan Miller (160) and Shawn Burton (285).
Orting and Warden are running away with the 1A and B team races, respectively.