The gym was packed. The home team brought a 20-member cheer squad to help celebrate senior night. Two traditional Greater Spokane League wrestling powerhouses met on the mat.
It was as much a spectacle as a regular-season dual meet can get.
And the wrestling didn’t disappoint.
Defending state champ Chase Tebbets earned a pin at 5 minutes, 52 seconds to give Mead the lead and Justin Mason built a big lead and held on for dear life to earn a major decision to clinch a 37-27 win over visiting University on Wednesday.
“That was a good one,” Mead coach Phil McLean said. “U-Hi and us over the years, we’ve had some good ones and that was intense and exciting. That was fan-friendly entertainment.”
Tebbets, a junior with a first and second at state at 106, is wrestling at 120 this season and defeated Tim Westbrook, ranked third in the state.
In the next match, Mason – sixth at regionals last season – led 13-5 but surprisingly ran out of gas with roughly 30 seconds to go against Cam Domke and found himself on his back. Mason was able to get to his belly and hold off what would have been a shock.
“Things change quick there,” McLean said. “We needed a major to secure the win and then it was almost gone. Puts you on the edge of your seat.”
In the last match of the evening, senior Yunadi Bogatyrev outlasted Terrell Sanders – ranked No. 1 at 132 – registering a reversal in the third period to win 3-1. It’s the second time Bogatyrev has topped Sanders this season, picking up win at the Inland Empire meet.
“Going into this match I was nervous, as it’s been a while since I wrestled him,” Bogatyrev said. “I really put everything out there on the mat. I wanted this one real bad. It’s my senior night. I didn’t want to look back and remember it as a match I lost. So I just put everything out there.”
Mead won the first five matches of the contest. University responded and dominated the heavier weights – with pins by top-ranked Hunter Gregerson at 195, Caleb Thomas at 220 and Neftali Lopez at 285 – and led 27-18 after Jason Frankin earned a pin at 106.
U-Hi coach Don Owen expected his heavyweights to get the job done.
“(Gregerson’s) been a really tough wrestler,” Owen said. “His opponent was really inexperienced so we were expecting a pin out of him. He’s had a good year.”
Lopez was down early to Trace Franks but came back to get the pin at 5:52.
“He’s a senior and been on the mat a lot,” Owen said. “He’s hard-nosed. It was big getting a pin and getting us back in the match. He’s been nursing injuries, so I was really pleased with his effort tonight.”
But the Titans conceded a forfeit at 113 to Chase Randall, fourth at state last season and a champion at the Tri-State Meet earlier this season, then Tebbets, Mason and Bogatyrev brought it home for the Panthers.
“We knew it was going to end up real close,” McLean said. “We had a run, then they had a run. Just to finish that way, it was really good.”
The win keeps Mead undefeated at 7-0. Bogatyrev said a perfect record through the league is something he and his teammates aspire to.
“It’s really important,” he said. “We want to go back-to-back two years winning the GSL, winning districts, winning regionals. And then taking the state championship. That’s really our goal this year.”