The best prep wrestlers in Washington state converge on the Tacoma Dome in a couple of days, and a pack of Sequim Wolves will be there.
Four SHS boys — 130-pounder Austin Middleton, 135-pounder Derek Fruin, 171-pounder Dakota Hinton and 215-pounder Emilio Perete-Colin — advanced to the state tourney after placing either third or fourth in their weight classes at the regional tourney at Franklin Pierce on Feb. 12.
They’ll join Amariah Clift, Sequim’s lone girls state qualifier, who earned a berth to state after winning all but one match at a regional tourney in Shelton on Saturday for a No. 2 seed.
Realistically, my hope is that they all win at least one match,” Sequim coach Len Borchers said. “I’ll tell them to think about some of the matches that they just had that were easy — they’re not going to be like that. You’ve got to string together several tough ones in a row. It’s about not making mistakes.”
Four of the five grapplers are brand new to the state tourney (Perete-Colin competed at 189 pounds last year with 1A Rochester), although Clift was an alternate last year and Hinton was a keen observer as his brother Ethan competed at state in 2008 and 2009.
“I think that (background) helps,” Borchers said, noting that Dakota was on the phone frequently with Ethan during the regional tourney.
Hinton, a Sequim junior battling in one of the toughest weight classes in the tournament, caught a break when highly ranked Caleb O’Halek of Olympic (No. 4 in the state) didn’t show. After dropping his first match to Fife’s Nick Belcourt, Hinton rebounded with a pin of Franklin Pierce’s Austin Engelhart. That set up a match with rival Brian Cristion of Port Angeles, with the winner taking away a state berth. Hinton won 6-0. Hinton finished the tourney fourth after getting pinned by No. 10-ranked Noah Geehan of White River.
Hinton opens the 171-pound bracket with a 12:40 p.m. match against William Davis, a senior from Woodland.
At 130 pounds, Sequim’s Middleton fell in the first round to No. 8-ranked Rhyse Zenkner of Fife, then battled back for a pin of Fife’s Damon Miller. Middleton then got a lead on Shane Burleson of Klahowya to secure the state spot and won in the consolation semis by injury default against Kingston’s Benny McMullen, the Olympic League champ.
With the region’s No. 3 seed, Middleton takes on state first-round opponent Jesse Gonzalez, a sophomore from Centralia, at 11:12 a.m. on Friday morning.
At 215 pounds, Perete-Colin showed his battle-tested experience by beating No. 5-ranked Freddie Baumann of Eatonville twice and No. 9-ranked Walker Larson of Kingston. Perete-Colin downed Baumann 9-7 in overtime for the region’s third seed. His only loss came against Steilacoom’s Travis Pine.
“He’s just real competitive; he gets emotional,” Borchers said.
Perete-Colin, a senior, opens the 215-pound bracket at 1:12 p.m. Friday afternoon against Steven Elsner, a senior from Mount Baker ranked No. 6 in the state.
At 135 pounds, Fruin battled all four of his opponents to decisions, dropping Fife’s Shaun Eurell before falling to Jared Sell of Klahowya, 10-4. Fruin responded with a 9-2 win against Michael Lujan of Kingston before falling to ranked Brian McCarty of North Mason in the consolation finals.
With the fourth seed, Fruin’s first-round opponent is Manny Ybarra, a senior from Quincy and state runner-up in 2008 and 2009. The pair wrestle at 11:20 a.m. Friday morning.
“It’s a real win for Derek to get on the floor at MatClassic as a sophomore,” Borchers said. “He’s a tough competitor.”
Clift, a sophomore competing at regionals in Shelton on Saturday, went 2-1 and will take the second seed to state, where she faces Julie Rivera, a junior from Kennewick, at 12:56 p.m.
Two Sequim wrestlers competed but missed shots at state berths. Heavyweight Clay Charley found himself in a bracket with three state-ranked grapplers and missed his chance to go to state by two points.
After a 15-7 loss to No. 4-ranked Bryce Wells, Charley came back to pin Marco Ramirez of Washington in the second round. In the consolation semifinals, Charley, a junior, fell 3-2 to No. 6-ranked Jack Newhouse of Steilacoom, then was pinned by Daniel Jenkins of Port Angeles to finish sixth.
Sequim 145-pounder Cody Field, a junior, couldn’t rebound from a first-round pin to No. 3-ranked Zack Schrader of Eatonville and finished 0-2 on the day.
Sequim sends five grapplers to state after getting shut out in 2010, the first time that had happened in 15 years.