Until Saturday evening Deer Park’s Joe Grable and Mt. Spokane’s John Hoover had never wrestled each other. Their first meeting, in the 145-pound title match during the Pacific Northwest Classic at University, was worth the wait.
The two state placers – Grable is a two-time top-three 2A state finisher and returning finalist; Hoover finished fifth in 3A – went toe-to-toe in a contest that took three rounds and as many overtimes to decide.
They jockeyed throughout regulation, Hoover’s late-third round escape forging a 1-1 deadlock. The first OT lasted a scoreless minute. In the second extra time, Gable scored a takedown and he held down his foe for the final 30 second period in a 3-1 victory.
“I’d seen him wrestle all year and knew he was good and strong. I had to keep it smart,” Grable, a junior, said afterward. “I (had to get) in a scramble and make something happen. I’m usually good in scrambles.”
His win came midway through the finals of the PNW, won by the host Titans 237.5 over the Stags at 154.5. When it was over, Grable stood solitarily atop the awards stand after being named the tournament’s outstanding wrestler.
But the vote was close between him and U-Hi’s Tanner Orndorff who tore through the 195-pound bracket, winning his three matches by technical fall (16-0) or first-round pin.
And North Central’s Izaec Quintanilla could have been in the discussion as well, giving a clinic at 152 and improving his record to 26-1.
“He’s scrappy isn’t he,” NC coach Luke Leifer said. “He’s had a lot of mat time and has God-given ability.”
Orndorff was one of five Titans finalists, three of them champions.
Austin Stannard won 13-3 over Timberlake’s Idaho state runner-up Forrest Herring at 170 pounds after surviving a 6-5 semifinal against Richland’s Cameron Simpson. Herring seemed more physical. Stannard found ways to score.
“He was pretty strong,” Stannard said. “I work more on technique.”
University’s Cameron Sorensen, a freshman 113-pounder, pinned all four of his opponents, the longest lasting 24 seconds into the second round, the others coming in the first round – two taking less than a minute.
“He’s only going to get better,” warned coach Don Owen of his prodigy. “He is a talent, but I didn’t know what a ferocious work ethic he has. He’s a monster in the room.”
The three were among nine Spokane area champions, two each from Deer Park and Shadle Park, the others from NC and Lakeside.
Shadle Park’s Alex Van Vlymen continued to impress, flattening Chiawana’s Martin Villanueva in the first round at 285 pounds. Van Vlymen improved his record to 17-4 a year after wrestling part of the season on junior varsity.
“I put in a lot of work doing freestyle, lifting weights and just pushing it spring and summer,” said the senior two-way football lineman who blocked for quarterback Brett Rypien. “I guess football helped me a lot for wrestling.”
Other local winners were returning state champions Terrence McKinney of Shadle Park, Jake Konzal of Deer Park, and Lakeside’s Hootie Judd
Owen was pleased with the efforts of his Titans, who placed 13. But he also admitted to being greedy.
“We lost a lot of close matches we should have won,” he said, adding with a chuckle, “I think all coaches are guilty of (thinking) that.”
Rollie Lane tournament: Post Falls’ Drake Foster took the title at 120 pounds and the Trojans claimed fifth place at the in Nampa, Idaho.
• Hall of Fame Duals: Mead claimed wins over Graham-Kapowsin and Tahoma at Moses Lake.
Panthers’ heavyweight Mason Ju led the way in Mead’s 45-24 win over Graham-Kapowsin. Ju took down Edwin Torres in the first, stayed on top for most of the match and eventually earned a pin at 1:41. The Panthers strung together five straight victories in the 106 through 132-pound weight classes and beat Tahoma 38-30.