Josh Smith of Kent-Meridian turned disappointment at regionals into opportunity at state, upsetting his top-ranked opponent at 138 pounds.
TACOMA — Josh Smith needed a wake-up call.
It cost him a regional wrestling championship, but could pay off with a state title at Saturday at Mat Classic XXV in the Tacoma Dome.
Smith, a Kent-Meridian senior, pulled the upset of the day Friday by beating top-ranked Jesse Peterson of Lake Stevens in a 138-pound quarterfinal, 8-5.
Six days earlier, he lost to Graham-Kapowsin sophomore Corde Ferreira in the regional finals, 6-4. It didn’t feel good at the time, but lit a fire.
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“It was definitely a good thing,” Smith said.
Wrestling is a family thing for the Smiths. Chris Smith won a title for the Royals in 2001.
“He was the last state champion for our school,” said Josh, who has six brothers. “Twelve years. I’m trying to get that back.”
Smith is just 5 feet 4, but is a state-class pole vaulter who has cleared 14-3. His opponent in the semifinals is Skyline junior Joey Gurke. Ferreira pinned both of his opponents Friday to land in the other semifinal. K-M has another semifinalist in senior Thomas Kemp (195), who beat Eric Harper of Eastlake in the second round, 6-3.
Peterson’s loss was one of few disappointments for top-ranked Lake Stevens, which brought in a tourney-high 14 wrestlers and pushed half of them through to the semis. The Vikings have a 20-point lead over second-ranked Tahoma, the defending champion, 84-64.
“Overall, we wrestled pretty good,” coach Brent Barnes said. “We’ve got nine placers, so I can’t complain too much. … We’re in pretty good position, but we’ve still got to wrestle well (Saturday) or Tahoma can catch us.”
The Bears have five in the semis and two other placers.
“We came with 11 and we’re placing seven, not our best day,” Tahoma coach Chris Feist said. “But we’re still fighting and there’s a lot of points to be earned.”
Lake Stevens senior Brandon Johnson hopes to go the distance at 285 this year after finishing second last season, but said the team title is his biggest concern.
“An individual title would be nice, but it would feel so much better if we win it as a team,” he said.
• Like Smith, Bothell’s Brandon Davidson hopes to follow in his brother’s footsteps. Justin won a title in 2004 and is helping coach Brandon, who is back in the semis at 152 after placing third last year. He had to go to overtime to edge Tahoma’s Tucker Mjelde in the quarterfinals, 5-3, after giving up two stall points.
• Junior Ryan Christensen of Woodinville got a pair of second-round pins to advance at 182. He placed second at 160 last season.
• Edmonds-Woodway’s Noah Cuzzetto, who won at 106 as a sophomore last year, easily won his first two matches at 113.
• Beamer has semifinalists in junior Haftom Tafere (126) and freshman Mitchell Owens (160). Owens will be the school’s first ninth-grader to medal.
• Skyline brought eight wrestlers to the tournament, but Gurke is the only one to reach the semifinals.
• Scott Stirts of Graham-Kapowsin was named 4A state coach of the year.