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Pedeferri notches second state championship
Cedarcrest's Aaron Pedeferri has done something no other Red Wolf wrestler has ever done - win two state championships. In fact, the Red Wolves' wrestling team had another first, with its name appearing in the top 10 at the state tournament.
The team eventually took eighth, and sported a new sign on the top-10 board. In addition to Pedeferri, Darren DeBoer took second at 130 pounds and Robby Westermann took third at 189 pounds.
For Mount Si, it was the veteran Dylan Seubert who had the best showing at state, notching an eighth-place finish at 215 pounds.
The big story of the day though, was how high Cedarcrest placed in the final standings. A team that has never been included in any top-10 polls suddenly found itself looking at the reader board and placed among the best teams in the state.
"It's great to see our name up on the board," said Westermann.
No other KingCo team even came close to Cedarcrest in the standings. Cedarcrest was one point behind Sequim after the final tally and eight points ahead of Wapato, a wrestling powerhouse. Liberty placed at 16 for comparison from KingCo 3A.
Pedeferri, a 2001 state champion at 112 pounds, faced his toughest match in the semifinals. His first win came on Friday over Sedro Wooley's Ethan Sandelin. Pedeferri pinned Sandelin, then moved on to face Nate Uehara of River Ridge. In typical Pedeferri form, he racked up points quickly, eventually recording the win 15-4.
In the semifinals he faced Craig Fawcett of Franklin Pierce. Fawcett was a formidable opponent, even scoring the first takedown. But perseverance and determination propelled Pedeferri to a 4-2 win.
In the finals, he faced Timberine's Jeff Linder. Linder scored first with a takedown but then it was all Pedeferri. As the seconds ticked down toward the end of the match, the Cedarcrest crowd rose to its feet. And with the last whistle, Pedeferri jumped up, did a cartwheel and launched into a back flip, smiling from ear to ear.
"I had the cartwheel in mind," said Pedeferri after the match. "Then I had to get my momentum for the back flip. I was too tired and didn't want to break my neck."
Asked if brother Eric had given him any advice prior to the match, he responded, "I just wished Eric could have done something like this. He said you know what to do and he knew I could do it."
When asked about the pressure throughout the day to repeat, he replied, "I think the finals was less pressure because I knew I had to dump everything out on the mat for those six minutes."
But one big question remains: Can he do it a third time? "Third time is a charm," he responded.
Pedeferri wasn't the only wrestler to make it to the finals. Teammate DeBoer found himself in the championship match as well. Having defeated Peninsula's Jake Friedman in the first round 8-2, DeBoer moved into the semifinals to face Chris Williams from Camas. It was a difficult match, but the junior Cedarcrest wrestler pulled out a 6-5 win.
In the finals he faced Aberdeen's Mark Walseth. DeBoer wrestled a great match but couldn't control a shot to the legs by Walseth, eventually losing 7-5.
"I will have to come back next year," said DeBoer. "I have one more year to take it, and I'm not going to lose again. My mentality kept me in it; I wanted it more than others. This is my third year here. Mentally I wasn't ready for it the first two years.
"This year I decided it's for myself and gave it everything I had. He had the shot on me and I couldn't stop it," he continued.
Cedarcrest took six wrestlers to the state tournament and the Wildcats took six. In the 103-pound class, the Red Wolves sent Stephen Gunderson to the mat, and for Mount Si it was Jason Rothgeb. Both wrestlers lost their first-round matches, Gunderson by pin and Rothgeb 15-3. The losses sent them to the consolation bracket, where they met a similar fate. Gunderson was pinned in the third round of his match by Kyle Pyke of Anacortes, and Rothgeb lost 11-2 to Nathan Decker of Sedro Wooley.
In the 112-pound class, Alex Haas had a similar encounter for Mount Si. He lost his first-round match to Zach Morgan of Selah, the eventual 112-pound champion. In the consolation bracket, he defeated Ferndale's Andrew Ashmore 5-4, then lost to Aberdeen's Jeff Hatton 7-4.
Nick Martindale went two and out for Mount Si at the 135-pound class. Martindale, a solid wrestler who typically sports striped socks, will be a formidable force in the Wildcats' lineup next year.
The Red Wolves' Andrew Claussen and Mount Si's Eddie Roberts also went 0-2 in the 145-pound class. Roberts, co-captain of the Wildcat team, put together an impressive list of wins late in the season this year.
The Wildcats' Kyle Jacobsen pulled out one win in the consolation bracket at 152 pounds before being knocked out of the tournament. He defeated O'Dea's Derek Lopez 5-4. Jacobsen, also a senior, has been a guiding force for the young Wildcat team.
The Red Wolves' Adam Speir won his first-round match, defeating Meadowdale's Kaleo Primacio 9-7, but then lost to Sequim's Graeme Johnson 10-5. The loss moved him into the consolation bracket, where he lost to White River's Brad Padgett 12-3.
Westermann was the third from Cedarcrest to place. He wrestled brilliantly at 189 pounds and made it to the semifinal match against Ferndale's Chet Slevin. But it was obvious the pressure of an undefeated season was taking its toll, as an unusually, complacent Westermann dropped the match 7-2. In the consolation bracket he defeated Jim Wilson of Chehalis to take third.
"There was too much stuff in my head," said Westermann. "I was so nervous ever since I woke up. I couldn't handle it and it showed on the mat."
If the pressure of an undefeated record wasn't enough, DeBoer's win to get into the finals provided some extra stress. "All the pressure was tough. I felt more when DeBoer won. I forgot how losing hurts," Westermann said.
Finally, at 215 pounds, Wildcat veteran Seubert made his mark. Losing his first-round match to Clarkston's Zach Babino 7-6, Seubert won his first two consolation matches to assure he would place. He lost to Lakes' Felix Sweetman 8-7 and to Selah's Sam Brandenburg 5-3 to get eighth.
"I didn't think I was wrestling up to my potential and feared this would happen," said Seubert after the last match. "I was thinking about it all last night."
Seubert also dedicated his eighth-place medal to coach Bruce Caldwell, who has been visibly absent from the last two tournaments due to illness.
Both Mount Si coach Mike Johnston and Cedarcrest coach Jeff Newcomer were pleased with the outcome of the tournament.
"We had a really tough first day," said Johnston. "A lot of close matches we just ended up not coming out on the top end of. We haven't lost as many seniors as we did last year. We are a young team and these kids stepped up and did a great job. To get five here, plus an alternate in Jason, was pretty good.
"All the kids were in their matches, and that was really neat."
Newcomer was just as ecstatic about his team's efforts, but the back flip was on his mind after Pedeferri's win.
"I had no idea he would do the flip," he said. "He didn't tell me he was going to do it. When he started, I said, 'Oh no.'"
"I'm really proud of the guys, said Caldwell. "Our season turned out better than we anticipated to begin with. We knew we would be up there kind of close, but we didn't think we would do as well as we did.
"I'm sure a couple of the kids are disappointed, but the matches were close, just in the wrong direction. They have to be proud of their season."