A pair of No. 1 state-ranked wrestlers put in another workmanlike day at the office.
Mead’s Chase Tebbets (120 pounds) and Chase Randall (106) won individual titles to lead Mead to the District 8 4A team championship on its home mats on Saturday.
Mt. Spokane took team honors in 3A, while East Valley earned the District 7 2A title.
Mead’s depth really showed. The Panthers totaled 443 points, outdistancing second-place University with 385 – though the Titans had more individual titlists at 6-5.
“Today we competed really well,” Mead coach Phil McLean said. “You get greedy and want to win them all. But for how many kids we pushed into finals, and third and fourth, fifth and sixth, it was an impressive weekend for my guys.”
“We did really well tonight in the finals,” University coach Don Owen said. “We won a lot of matches that were hard-fought. I think it’s a testament again to the kind of kids we have in our program. They work really hard.
“I wish that we would have been a little bit deeper to do a little bit better in the third- and fourth-place matches, fifth and sixth, but I’m proud of my guys. None of them lost because they weren’t working hard enough. I just think Mead has a little bit better team, top-to-bottom.”
McLean’s praise was effusive for his two No. 1 Chases – Tebbets, a junior wrestling up at 120 who won a state title at 106 last year and placed second in 2016, and Randall, a sophomore, who placed fourth at state last year.
“They’re tough. They’re goers,” he said. “They’re fun to watch wrestle. They are both in the right place right now where they’re supposed to be and now we just gotta worry about next week (at regionals). We’ll get to what’s next before we worry about the week after that (at state).”
Tebbets, 33-2 this season, beat teammate Justin Mason 5-1 in the final.
Tebbets resisted calling it just another win.
“It always means something for me,” he said. “It’s the finals. It’s just kind of hard to have to wrestle my own teammate.
“Justin’s good, he’s a good competitor. I knew he’d come out and give his best shot against me.”
Randall won a 17-5 major decision over CV’s Luke Grisafi. At times, he glanced up at the scoreboard to watch the seconds tick off.
“I was just trying to be aware, trying to not do anything stupid that could cost me the match,” he said.
University’s winners included their state-ranked No. 1s – Terrell Sanders at 126 and Hunter Gregerson at 195, along with Tim Westbrook (No. 5) at 113.
Sanders won his fourth straight district championship.
“Any time you can go out here and compete at the highest level and win the tournament, it’s a great feeling,” Sanders said.
“It’s what you come to do, what you practice all year for.”
U-Hi provided two of the night’s surprise wins, freshman Kyler Anstrom at 132 and senior Neftali Lopez at 285.
Anstrom topped Mead’s Yunadi Bogatyrev, No. 6 in state, and Lopez won a couple of upsets en route to a title.
Bogatyrev beat Sanders twice earlier this season, so Sanders didn’t mind watching his younger teammate take down the senior.
“I’m so proud of him,” Sanders said of Anstrom. “I was living vicariously though him winning that match. For me, for our team, that was awesome to watch him do that.”
“Neftali was the No. 3 seed and he disposed of both guys in front of him,” Owen said. “I think that sets him up for the regionals and that’s really good. Heavyweight is really tough in our region. So he had a really good weekend and I hope he has another good one next weekend and get him to state.”
Lopez wrestled at 195 last season so he is up two weight classes.
“I feels great, oh my gosh,” Lopez said of the win. “District champ, first year (at 285)? It feels amazing.
“I love a challenge. It’s my senior year. Get a hard match – win or lose it – I have nothing to lose. So I’m just going in with that mindset.”
Lopez upset Central Valley’s Wyatt Wickham, No. 7 in state, in the semifinals and Gonzaga Prep’s Darius Johnson in the finals – both by pins.
He said the win over Wickham gave him a boost of confidence heading into the final.
“Oh it did, it definitely did,” Lopez said. “Beating Wyatt Wickham? That was one of my highlights of my wrestling career. He’s a big kid.”
The first six matches were all won by Mead or University wrestlers. CV’s Bradley Wiggs (145) ended the streak with a 10-4 decision over Mead’s Devante Goodman.
“I’ve always had trouble with the Mead kids so it feels to good get it over with,” Wiggs said. “I knew I had one of the best gas tanks out here so I just like to push the pace and score as many points as possible and have a little fun.”
Ferris’ Owen retires
In addition to the action on the mats, Ferris coach Tim Owen announced his retirement after 28 years with the Saxons and an additional 13 in Montana.
Owen received a standing ovation from the packed house when his retirement was announced.
“It was very nice of them,” Owen said of the standing ovation. “I don’t know if it was deserved, but it was appreciated.”
Owen is retiring from teaching and head coaching but will continue as an assistant.
He didn’t look like a retiree when he was jumping up and down when Zach Strauss earned Ferris’ second win of the night, a pin of Central Valley’s Zak Stratton.
“He’s a real good kid,” Owen said of Strauss. “It’s just fun to see that kind of stuff. It makes you happy when kids that put a lot of time in get something out of it. He’s a senior, so I’ve been with him for four years. So that’s neat.”
Owen was proud of Ferris’ third-place showing.
“Thought we wrestled really well today,” he said. “We about maxed what we could do, I thought, as far as the tournament.”
Mt. Spokane won seven individual titles and piled up 352.5 points. North Central took four titles and finished in a distant second place with 250 points.
Mt. Spokane coach Travis Hughes noted his team’s success at the lighter weights as a big factor in the team win.
“We had some good performances at 106 and 113. We won close ones,” he said. “We’re sitting good right now so I’m happy.”
It’s a family affair for the Wildcats, as Hughes rattled off at least four sets of brothers on the team. Senior Jake (152) and freshman Casey (120) both won titles.
“Those two are really talented kids,” Hughes said. “They’re hard workers in the room, too. They’re some of the hardest workers we have. So everything they get is well earned.”
Defending state champ and No. 1-ranked Jake Howerton beat Shadle Park freshman Juan Escobar 7-4, but he was frustrated after his match after being called for several hand-locking fouls.
“The locking hands (penalties) killed me,” he said. “I gave up two or three points just locking hands. He didn’t take me down but I need to work on my top game because I kept locking hands. Next time it’ll be a better match.
“I kind of underestimated him. He’s a freshman, but he was tough. It’ll be different next time, for sure.”
“He puts a lot of pressure on himself,” Hughes said. “Sometimes being a state champ will do that to you. If he just wrestles he’ll be fine. He just has to forget that he’s a state champ and not worry about that.”
Big brother Jake was psyched though that Casey took a title as well.
“It’s super cool,” Casey Howerton said. “He’s a tough kid. You know, just wrestling with me (growing up) got him pretty good, now he won at districts, so it’s cool.”
East Valley picked up three individual wins and added to its regular season Great Northern League championship with a district team title win, scoring 268.5 points and topping second-place Clarkston with 208.
East Valley coach Craig Hanson was happy with the results.
“Happy? I think overall, yes,” Hanson said. “The finals were difficult, as we expected. A couple of matches, I don’t want to say didn’t go our way, but there was so many pins in the finals, I thought it was a rare finals. But that’s the way these things go.
“I think overall I think I was predicting 12 (through to regionals) and we got 13, so we got one more than I thought we might get.”
He knows his wrestlers have some tough matches ahead next week at regionals against Central Washington Athletic Conference teams.
“The CWAC is always a really tough region to meet up with and we have a lot of tough battles with those guys,” he added, “Hopefully we’ll get our lion’s share of them through this year (to state) just like we have in the past. They’ve kind of gotten the best of the GNL the last couple years. Hopefully, it’s our turn to rise up a little bit.”
Senior Winston Scott, ranked third in 2A at 195, was a winner over Tanner Cassel of West Valley.
“He’s a super-tough kid who is very focused and motivated the last couple of years, especially this year,” Hanson said. “His goal is to try to win a state title and the next two weeks we’ll put our time in to help him get that.”
Scott was satisfied with his district-title winning performance.
“It feels good to know you’re working toward something and then see it pay off.”
Ranking provided by WashingtonWrestlingReport.net.