Mt. Spokane junior Casey Howerton put his index finger to his lips, an attempt to quiet Mead’s glow-stick waving student section even more following his match-deciding pin.
The penultimate match between Howerton and Colby Grosse at a packed Mt. Spokane gymnasium gave the Wildcats the cushion it needed to down rival and fellow state wrestling power Mead 33-26 on Thursday, securing their second straight Greater Spokane League title.
For the fourth straight year, the GSL title has come down to a regular-season finale between Mt. Spokane – the defending 3A state champion – and Mead, regularly ranked near the top of the 4A classification.
Mt. Spokane’s decorated middle weights helped the top-ranked Wildcats (9-0 GSL) secure another trophy.
When Mead’s Ryan Clark beat Riley Buth in a battle of highly ranked 138-pounders, it knotted the score at 23-23 with three matches left.
The trusty 1-2 punch of Mt. Spokane’s Ky Haney (145 pounds) and Howerton immediately answered, putting the Panthers (8-1 GSL) away.
Haney, ranked No. 1 in his weight in 3A, beat Ben Mitchell in a 14-4 major decision. Howerton, ranked No. 2, was next – aiming for a pin from the start.
He came out aggressively, ultimately pinning Grosse in 2 minutes, 33 seconds and bringing the sizable home crowd to its feet.
“At first I was matching his energy, seeing what he had, then started wrestling my match,” Howerton said. “”The plan was if Ky won and I won, it basically sealed the deal. We have some solid middle weights.”
Mead took an early lead thanks to three straight early wins in upper weights by Sam Walker (195), Tyler Cook (220) and Trace Franks (285).
Mead coach Phil McLean knew it would likely come down to getting through Haney and Howerton.
“Going up against them, that’s a bad way for us to end a dual. But you have to wrestle them somewhere in their lineup anyway,” McLean said. “Overall, the match was a good, hard-fought battle.”
McLean hopes the two squads meet again next year for a fifth straight time to decide the title.
“I hope it keeps to be this way,” McLean said. “The wrestling up north is very strong, but it’s good in all of the Spokane area. Tonight was a great environment and fun for the kids.”