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Valley wrestlers place at state
TACOMA - Mat Classic XVI proved to be one of the toughest competitions Valley grapplers have faced in recent years.
Long gone were the recurrent expectations that at least one Valley wrestler would be in the finals. This time, most wrestlers would agree that the goal was not to win, but rather to place.
Leading the group of six Valley wrestlers who traveled to the state tournament this year was Mount Si sophomore Matt Haas who took third in the 130-pound weight class after defeating Anthony Underwood from Peninsula by pin at the 1:53 mark. Haas came out strong on his second day of wrestling despite losing to two-time finals participant Matt Roll from Clover Park in the second round.
"I think [Haas] came today really focused and his goal was third place, he was ready to go," said Mount Si coach Jeff Newcomer. "He just went at it."
Roll would lose to Sedro Woolley's Patrick O'Neil in the finals. O'Neil had defeated Haas a week earlier in the Sea-King finals 2-1.
"I couldn't be happier, I did everything that I wanted to do this year, its been a great year," added Haas.
His road to the third-place finish crossed paths with another Valley wrestler, Cedarcrest High School freshman Dan Claussen. Claussen made it to the semi-finals in the 130-pound class before losing 6-5 to the eventual champion O'Neil. The loss obviously took the wind out of the young wrestler's sails as he moved to the consolation bracket, where he immediately faced Haas. The match ended with Haas winning 7-6, sending Claussen to the fifth/ sixth-place finals. There he faced Tyler Munson of Yakima's West Valley High School. Regulation time ended with both wrestlers at six points, but in the first overtime Claussen rolled with Munson pinning his shoulders for the win.
"He lost three close ones, it was a tough weight class, said Cedarcrest coach Art Kuehn. "He will be back, he is a tough kid. They didn't know about him before this tournament and now they will. He will have his work cut out for him next year. But that's all right, he works hard and will come back."
Consoling Claussen after his matches was Cedarcrest assistant coach Eric Pedeferri, who took fourth his freshman year at Cedarcrest before his dominance began.
"He does more than I do in the wrestling room," said Kuehn of Pedeferri. "He gets on the mat with the kids. He sees things that I don't see, kids look up to him a lot. He and his brother [Aaron] have done a lot in this sport that is pretty valuable."
Four other wrestlers made it to Mat Classic XVI, which saw Liberty finish as the top Kingco team with 11th place and 41 team points. In contrast, Sedro Woolley took first place with 160 team points. Mount Si finished down in the pack with 19 team points and Cedarcrest with 14.
Cedarcrest hopeful, sophomore David Howard, didn't make it through the first day of competition. Howard lost his second-round match to the eventual champion at 125 pounds, Manuel Plata of Prosser, by pin at the 3:08 mark. He then lost to Cheney's Blake Risk to end his bid at a state placing.
The third Cedarcrest wrestler to travel to the tournament was junior Connor Baker, who lost his opening round match. In the consolation bracket he won a match against Columbia River's Eric Ritchmeyer 6-3 before falling to Burlington's Juan Ortiz 6-1, who eventually took fourth.
For Mount Si the opening round was not friendly to senior Ryan Magnussen at 135 pounds, nor junior Trevor Moore at 215 pounds. Both wrestlers lost their opening matches, sending them to the consolation bracket. There, Magnussen lost his second bout to the eventual seventh-place finisher Aaron Biggs of River Ridge 6-2. Moore won his first match in the consolation bracket by pinning Blachet's Michael O'Kelley at the 1:54 mark. He then lost by pin to Mount Rainer's Alex Georgiadis by pin at the 4:28 mark. Georgiadis eventually took seventh.
Both teams have many younger wrestlers in the ranks and should prove to be formidable forces at Mat Classic XVII.