Colville High will send seven wrestlers to the silver anniversary Mat Classic state championships at the Tacoma Dome Friday and Saturday. Qualifying for the Indians, who finished fourth at the Region IV 2A regional last Friday and Saturday at Ellensburg, are Tanner Smith, Trenton Welton, Chandler Knight, Grady Nelson, Ryley Smith and Ian Cox. Austin Donogh will go as an alternate. Photo courtesy of Shelley Jones.
Colville High turned in some successes at last Friday and Saturdayâ€™s Class 2A Region IV wrestling tournament at Ellensburg High School. But there were also some disappointments.
District 7 champion Colville High qualified six wrestlers to Friday and Saturdayâ€™s Mat Classic XXV at the Tacoma Dome. The Indians, who also shared a GNL dual meet championship this winter, finished fourth at the regional with 150.5 points.
Central Washington Athletic Association powerhouse Othello won the regional with 203 points. Five-time defending State 2A champion Deer Park was second with 167.5 points. Toppenish of the CWAC finished third with 155 points.
Fifth, Cheney, 118, East Valley (Spokane), 103, Ellensburg, 83, Selah, 78, Wapato, 71, Clarkston, 71, East Valley (Yakima), 70.5, West Valley (Spokane), 51, West Valley (Yakima), 48, Ephrata, 47, Grandview, 42, Pullman, 16.5, Prosser 9.
Tanner Smith dominates at 152 pounds
Winning a regional championship for Colville was senior 152-pounder Tanner Smith, who posted a major decision over Logan Merkle of East Valley (Yakima) in the final, 15-3.
Finishing second was Trenton Welton at 138 pounds. Welton dropped a narrow 5-3 decision to Brent Evans of Toppenish in the championship match-up.
CHS senior standout Chandler Knight also finished second. Knight was pinned by Eli Mason of Cheney in the 182-pound finale (3:24).
Finishing third for Colville was 132-pounder Grady Nelson. Nelson pinned Joey Escobar of Toppenish (4:08) in the third and fourth place match.
Ryley Smith, Tannerâ€™s freshman brother, also finished third for Colville, pinning Jake Staniszewski of Pullman (4:03) in the third and fourth place match.
At 138 pounds, Colvilleâ€™s Ian Cox finished fourth to qualify. He dropped the third and fourth place to Matt Miller of Deer Park, 6-4.
The top four wrestlers in each weight division and one alternate (fifth place finisher) advance to Mat Classic.
CHS 120-pounder Austin Donogh will go as an alternate after finishing fifth at Ellensburg.
CWAC champion and third-ranked Othello flexed some muscle at the regional, upsetting top-ranked Deer Park for the title. Of course, Colville upended DP one week earlier for the District 7 championship.
DP crowns a pair at regional
Deer Park had five finalists and crowned two champions: Joe Grable at 145 and Trevor Eicher at 160.
Deer Park has seven state qualifiers to Colvilleâ€™s six. Cheney also got six to Mat Classic.
CHS head coach Randy Cloke was pleased with how hard his contingent of 14 wrestlers competed at Ellensburg. But the Region IV tournament is a meat-grinder and arguably the toughest of all the 2A regionals.
â€śThe kids wrestled hard,â€ť Cloke said on Sunday. â€śBut we were a little disappointed. We thought we could get eight in (to Mat Classic).â€ť
The best-laid plans simply didnâ€™t work out for Colville last Friday and Saturday. The biggest blow came when two-time Mat Classic veteran Jesse Morrison was sidelined during his first match with a hip injury that was severe enough that the junior couldnâ€™t continue.
â€śJesse hurt a hip in his first match,â€ť Cloke said. â€śHe was in a lot of painâ€¦they evaluated it and he ended up going to the hospital.
â€śThat was very unfortunate and heart-breaking for Jesse and his family. Thatâ€™s not the way you want to see it end.â€ť
Morrison has finished second and fourth in his two Mat Classic appearances and figured to be a good bet to get there again and score points for the Indians.
â€śThat was 20 points we were counting on thereâ€”the difference between fourth (place) and second,â€ť Cloke said.
Cloke was also hoping that Hunter LeCaire could get through a tough regional at 170 pounds. The senior finished sixth.
â€śHunter was hurt and really was wrestling on guts there,â€ť Cloke said. â€śHe really battled and showed a lot of heart.â€ť
Cloke said that Tanner Smith was very impressive in winning the championship and regional top seed at 152. Ditto for his younger brother and Welton, who lost a tough finale at 138 pounds.
â€śTrenton really wrestled well until the finals,â€ť Cloke said.
Cloke conceded that he might have underestimated the strength of the CWAC to some extent.
â€śThat was just a very tough regional,â€ť Cloke said. â€śThere isnâ€™t a tougher regional (at Class 2A). It was tough to place. The regional was like a mini-state tournament, no doubt about it.â€ť
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While six wrestlers may not be enough to threaten for a championship, who knows?
â€śIt was really tough not getting Hunter and Jesse on the platform,â€ť Cloke said. â€śBut I think the guys we have there (at Mat Classic) can all place and we could get two to three in the finals. We do that and Colville can be a factor. It just depends on the seeds and how we draw in.
â€śAnything can happen.â€ť
Cloke said he was impressed with Othello and Toppenish.
â€śThe CWAC wrestled well,â€ť he said. â€śOthello scored a lot of points down lowâ€”more than we could contend with. But theyâ€™re also pretty well rounded.â€ť
Figure Othello, Deer Park, Orting, Toppenish and the Indians to all be in the mix under the big wooden dome of the Tacoma Dome this week.