Kyle Gleed, who missed the state tournament a year ago because of injuries, led the Gators into contention for the team title against favorite University of Spokane.
TACOMA — For Decatur senior Kyle Gleed, it was as if he felt right at home. So, did his teammates.
The Gators’ 285-pounder missed state in 2012 after breaking his right foot an hour before the regional final, which he won despite dislocating his shoulder.
Gleed looked at full force at Mat Classic XXV in the Tacoma Dome Friday, scoring a couple of pins to reach the semifinals at 285 in Class 3A and putting Decatur on the cusp of a school-best state finish.
Gleed (37-4) pinned Shorewood’s Erca Erdenebayer in 1:11, then pinned Oak Harbor’s Jackson Constant in 56 seconds.
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“He beat both of the finalists (Lake Stevens’ Brandon Johnson and Central Kitsap’s Kyle Lanoue) in 4A and two placers in 3A last year and It’s just too bad he couldn’t have been here last year,” said Mike Bressler, Decatur’s 16th-year coach. “This is like the World Series of wrestling for us. This is what we’ve been working for all year.
“This is just a good group of kids.”
The Gators’ big man joined freshman Leviticus Arizpe (113) and senior Nick Karis (170) in moving to the semifinals on Saturday. Decatur, a school not known for its wrestling prowess, looks deep enough for its best finish, eclipsing last year’s eighth-place showing.
“Attitude is everything,” Gleed said. “It’s a different mentality in our wrestling room this year.”
Decatur, with eight of its 10 wrestlers alive for placings, sits second behind University of Spokane, 69 points to 66.5. The Titans moved six wrestlers into the semifinals in a bid to wrest the title from Enumclaw, which was looking for three in a row and its fifth title in six years.
Sunnyside has four semifinalists and sits third at 62.5 points. Enumclaw, with no semifinalists, is fourth with 45.
“University’s in the driver’s seat, for sure,” said Bressler. “They’ll be tough to beat. We were hoping to definitely be top-three, and we’ve been working to win it. At this level, it’s kind of where the breaks fall. We have to keep kids up to keep fighting through that back door.”
The semifinals at 126 in 3A are stacked with a two-time state champ, and two state runners-up, one of them unbeaten. Kelso’s two-time state champion Josh Newberg (38-1) faces Glacier Peak’s John Kim, and Bonney Lake’s Colton Tracy (33-5) meets Shorewood’s Matthew Floresca (31-0).
Newberg won his first match by pin, then eked out a 2-0 decision over Enumclaw’s Tyke Reid, who was state runner-up at 120 in 2012. The Highlanders’ star scored a takedown about one minute into the match.
“Tyke did a great job of riding on Josh the entire time,” Kelso coach Bobby Freund said. “It’s not easy with the kind of target he has. That weight class is just tough.”
In 2A, North Kitsap senior Jake Velarde moved closer to joining an elite club of four-time state champions, winning twice at 138. Nine others (eight boys, one girl) have won four titles.
Velarde (39-1 this season, 155-5 career) beat Colville sophomore Ian Cox 6-3 in his first-round match before scoring a 16-1 technical fall late in the third round over Jeremy Jackson of Sumner.
“I came out a little tired,” said Velarde, who fueled up on a banana before his quarterfinal. “I didn’t eat enough for breakfast. Then, with the break, I came back rehydrated and re-ate. I felt good in that last match and came out strong.
“I’m just out to have fun. This is my senior, and this is my last one. I want to have a blast.”
• Everett’s Jessie Lopez won twice — 8-0 over Sunnyside’s Noe Palomino and 5-1 over Peninsula’s Jake Ricco — to hike his record to 35-0 and reach the 3A semis at 145. He won 132 last year.
• Timberline senior Stone Hart, the defending 3A champion at 220, upped his record to 32-0 with two wins.
• In Class 1A, Kiona-Benton junior Cruz Del Angel scored a pair of pins to reach the semifinals at 182 and boost his record to 38-0 with 31 pins. He won 170 last year.
• Othello looks ready to snap a run of five 2A team titles by Deer Park. The Huskies advanced five wrestlers into the semis, Deer Park three.
• In 2A, Kingston junior Bobby Reece III pushed his record to 39-1 with a pair of pins at 160. Reece is 117-1 in his career after winning 102 in a row. His only defeat came on an illegal move.
• In 2A, Orting sophomore Fred Green advanced to the semis and moved to 35-1 this season at 113. Green was the 103 champ in 2012.