The Bears won every title they could before finishing the season with the Class 4A state crown at Mat Classic in the Tacoma Dome.
TACOMA — Jordan Martinez couldn’t have found a better landing spot or a better feeling than being part of something bigger than himself.
Martinez did his part for top-ranked Tahoma, winning the Class 4A 126-pound title, and 195-pounder Kione Gill gave the Bears a second state championship. It was enough for the team title on Saturday’s final day of the Mat Classic XXIX state wrestling tournament at the Tacoma Dome.
Martinez (19-3), a midseason senior transfer from Pine Creek High School in Colorado Springs, Colo., added to the title he won with the Class 5A Eagles last season at 120. He downed Sumner sophomore C.J. Richmond 7-2, taking control with a takedown and near-fall with less than 1:24 left in the match.
“I was kind of blessed to come into this (wrestling) room and have the opportunity to train with all these guys and the high caliber of these people,” Martinez said. “I was just blessed to be part of it. I have some family here and there was some hardship going on (in Colorado).”
Most Read Sports Stories
- How one lifelong Mariners fan accidentally took down the team's president, Kevin Mather
- 'It got old': Jarred Kelenic, agent open up on frustrations with Mariners delaying his MLB debut
- With Jarred Kelenic's ire toward Mariners raised, scrutiny over his opening-day status is further elevated
- If K.J. Wright moves on from the Seahawks, here's how he'll be remembered on and off the field
- Analysis: Despite more reports of Russell Wilson's unhappiness with Seahawks, a trade in 2021 still seems unlikely
Martinez has lived in Washington state before, and his older brother, Josh, was a wrestler for Oak Harbor. His brother would’ve been proud of Saturday’s effort as Martinez nearly pulled a late pin.
“I was really trying to get that tilt at the end for my team,” Martinez said of his final match. “I love doing risky moves, but I only do it when necessary. They say it’s not a team sport, but it is a team sport. I love being part of this team. They make me feel nothing but welcomed here and loved.
“Every person on this team has an impact on me. We always found a way to push each other. We train hard enough for us to be here and win that championship.”
The Bears pushed themselves to the limit, but in the end it paid off in the school’s first state title since 2012. Tahoma locked up the Class 4A title over Curtis of University Place 158-139, clinching when Lake Stevens junior Malachi Lawrence topped Curtis’ Alex Stuart in the 170 final.
“It feels really good to know that we finished what we started last summer, as a group,” Tahoma coach Chris Feist said. “We had four performance goals — win a dual-meet title, league title, regional title and state title. For the past four weeks, we’ve just been marching through those goals, so it feels really good.”
Gill pinned his finals opponent, junior Bowen McConville of Kennedy Catholic, for the fourth time this season. In the final, Gill, who was a state runner-up for Class 3A Enumclaw last season at 182, capped off his title run with a fall in 1:37.
Bears sophomore Austin Michalski (31-7) lost 1-0 in the 113-pound final to Pasco freshman Isaiah Gonzalez in a match with many calculated moves. Gonzalez scored his lone point with a second-round escape and Michalski fired one last shot, but his takedown was ruled to have come after the final buzzer.
Tahoma senior Dagen Kramer lost his 220 final to Camas’ Dylan Ingram 7-4 to finish the season 31-6.
The Bears brought 16 wrestlers to state, and nine medaled (top-eight finishes).
“All our kids did a great job this year, trained really hard and came together as a team and just supported each other throughout this whole process,” Feist said. “Truthfully, it all feels pretty rough right now and we’ve been here (at the Tacoma Dome) for three days and it’s a roller coaster of emotion. We’re up, we’re down. We win one. We lose one.”
• The new wrestling format added more excitement as the evening went on. With the consolation matches for 3rd-4th, 5th-6th and 7th-8th places right going on simultaneously before each weight class final, there was points piling up in a hurry.
“I know it got my blood pressure up,” Tahoma assistant Boomer Burnham said. “There’s point over here and points over there.”
Said Feist: “With this new format, the last round really felt a lot more like we were all in the finals together. You know every point mattered. I remember watching Cameron Hanson get a seventh-place finish with a fall and the crowd and teammates erupted because they knew what those points were to the team race.”
• Tahoma senior Nick Whitehead (25-1) settled for another place other than a state title, taking third place after taking second at 126 as a junior, fifth at 120 as a sophomore and fifth at 113 as a freshman. He did go out with two pins. His brother, Tim, finished his career with a pair of seconds.
• Puyallup senior Josh Franch became a two-time state champion, pinning South Kitsap junior Mason Englin in 4:55 in the 138 title match.
• Battle Ground 160-pound sophomore James Rogers emerged with his second consecutive state crown, capping off a perfect 42-0 season to improve to 87-3 for his career. Rogers beat Ketner Fields of Curtis 9-0 in the championship match.