Blake Haney delivered.
The Mt. Spokane senior’s dramatic pin Thursday night at a packed Mead High School gave the Wildcats not only a 30-29 win over rival Mead, but also a Greater Spokane League title.
In the night’s final match between the Washington prep powers – Mt. Spokane (9-0) ranked No. 1 in 3A and Mead (8-1) No. 2 in 4A, per Washington Wrestling Report – Haney, who was wrestling up two weight classes at 152 pounds, knew what he needed to do if he wanted the Wildcats to clip Mead for the first time since 2015.
Haney, a defending State 3A champion, took down Mead freshman JT Connors in the second period, the referee’s pin signal evoking a loud roar from Mt. Spokane’s sizable contingent.
“I knew (the pin) was coming,” said Haney, whose team trailed 29-24 going into the final match. “I just had to keep going for it.
“It was awesome. The crowd was awesome. My teammates were awesome.”
Mt. Spokane 152-pounder Zach Clark, a state medalist last year, recently went down with an injury, forcing coach Travis Hughes to get creative earlier this week.
Haney, who typically wrestles at 138 pounds, had succeeded at 152 before, Hughes said, and with the night’s matches starting with the 160-pound weight class, it ended at 152, putting the Wildcats’ most accomplished wrestler in a position to win the match for Mt. Spokane.
“There’s no other guy you want to put in that position,” Hughes said. “We got fortunate starting at 160, because we knew we put Blake there, and he’s had to do that before, and he’s come through.
“He needed a pin and he got it.”
Mead coach Phil McLean lauded Mt. Spokane, which returned a wealth of talent from last year’s State 3A championship team.
“It was a great high school wrestling match, and Mt. Spokane is a really good team” McLean said. “Our freshman (Connors) faced a defending state champion there at the end, and competed.
“I told (Connors) to go for it, and if you can stay off your back, stay off your back. He did a great job in the first period, but just got caught.”
Mead led 29-21 after two-time state champion Chase Tebbets won by technical fall at 138 pounds, but Mt. Spokane came up clutch in the final two matches.
Mt. Spokane’s Casey Howerton (145) beat Mead’s Colby Grosse in a 12-7 decision before Haney’s clutch, match-deciding pin.
Mt. Spokane started the evening with a pin when Carter Miethe (160) took down Josh Hackworth in the second round.
“We were in trouble right from the get-go,” McLean said. “I thought there was going to be seven to nine toss-up matches tonight, and there really was.”