Tacoma Bound: Adna’s Ashley Headlines Crop of State Contenders
By Jordan Nailon
Come Friday all the considerable sacrifices and discomforts will finally make sense.
All the skipped holiday meals and late night bus rides. All the pre-dawn practices and stair loops. All the time rolling up the ungainly mats and then rolling them back out again.
Once a wrestler finds themselves making their paces between the cold hard concrete and the hot neon lights of the Tacoma Dome at the Mat Classic state wrestling championships, the gravity of the entire sweaty, singlet-clad endeavor suddenly comes into focus.
This year nine area schools will be represented by 40 wrestlers at the vaunted Tacoma Dome showdown with one returning state champion in the mix.
Lucas Ashley of Adna will be the one area grappler looking to repeat as state champion this year. The 182-pounder enters the final weekend of the season with a full head of steam after taking first last week at the 1B/2B regional tournament.
“Lucas has never been afraid to lose so he doesn’t wrestle like he’s afraid to lose. So he takes chances and does some things that other kids wouldn’t do. He doesn’t give up anything in a match,” Adna coach Craig Ferrier said.
Ashley will begin Friday with a first-round bye before getting his hooks into an opponent in the 12-man 1B/2B bracket. Once on the mat his coach likes the senior’s chances.
“He’s in a really good spot in the bracket. On the other side of the bracket is Jacob Sullivan from [Life Christian] who took third last year, and then another guy from Tonasket who took, I think second last year,” noted Ferrier.
Tristan Ridley will join Ashley in Tacoma as an alternate after finishing sixth for the Pirates last weekend.
Dusty Thayer of Winlock will also enter the Mat Classic with favorable seeding after placing first at 126 pounds in the regional tournament. Thayer’s sparring partner from Napavine, Dustin Krause (138), will also be on site as an alternate.
Meanwhile, Rainier will be sending a platoon to Tacoma. Mountaineers making the trek north include Jayson Ducey (106), Levi Swann (113), Gabe Price (120), Joe Gerrish (132), Julian Hambley (152), and Brody Klein (160).
Likewise, Toledo will be well represented with five wrestlers currently putting a final shine on their head gear. That group includes Justin Filla (132), Trey Rego (145), Damion Soto (160), Michael Echtle (220) and Hunter Smith (220). Onalaska will send a pair of wrestlers with Kolby Monzingo tipping the scales at 138 pounds and Ashtin Draper weighing in at 195 pounds.
In the 1A ranks, Robert Marti of Tenino will take the mat on Friday fresh off a regional win last week at 220 pounds. Marti will open the Mat Classic with a first-round match against Granite Falls’ Jarad Barth.
There will be nine area wrestlers shooting their shot in the girls bracket this year.
Xylia Warner (140) of W.F. West and Jamiah Christin (115) of Tenino both punched their tickets to the old All-American city with championship finishes at the regional tournament. While Christin is the only girl from the Stone City who managed to procure a golden ticket, Elizabeth Patana (115) and Courtney Jones (120) will round out the W.F. West representatives with Paetynn Lopez (155) waiting in the wings as an alternate.
Centralia will have two girls competing in the state wrestling tournament: Jade Hudson (106) and Kupria Lapierre (135) both finished third for the Tigers last week to earn their passage.
Toledo, Napavine and Adna will each send one wrestler to state this year to round out the local flavor in the girls bracket. Keeton Dowell (155) of Adna was injured for five weeks prior to the district tournament two weeks ago, which she won, before placing fourth at regionals last week. Pearl Cave (145) of Napavine also placed fourth at regionals in order to make the big dance, while Andrea Jones (130) of Toledo qualified with a third place finish.
W.F. West will once again supply the largest local contingent to the boys 2A bracket.
“We got 11 guys through. That’s the important thing,” W.F. West coach Jamie Rakevich said in an interview with The Chronicle. “Here’s the thing, it’s going to be the same for a lot of these guys. [Class] 2A wrestling is tough. We’ve got two top-50 schools in the nation, maybe three, so there’s some dudes in there.”
The Bearcats will be represented by Bo Davis (120), Caleb Walters (126); Zach Evans (132); Darren Gray (138); Connor Trodahl (138); Evan “Meaty” Moon (152); Desmond Parriott (160); Isaac Reavis (195); Garret VonMoos (220); Daniel Matagi (220); and Bryson Boyd (285). Fellow W.F. West wrestlers Brock Guyette, Henry Jordan, Kayden Ryan and Cristo Parriott will be on hand at weigh-ins on Friday as alternates.
“I think we’ve got 10 or 11 guys who can place but we don’t have any guarantees, so we’ve got to show up and wrestle,” Rakevich added. “If they show up then we could have a couple of guys rolling in on Saturday.”
Rochester qualified three wrestlers with equivocation with one alternate keeping ready this week just in case. Daelin Schlecht (132), Riley Cohron (145) and Jayden Lancaster (152) are all returners to the ballyhooed battle ground beneath the dome. Lancaster set the bar for the Warriors last year with a third place finish. This year he’s looking to get over the hump and reach the title match.
“That’s the goal. He has a real tough bracket ahead of him. Him and Riley both have been working their tails off. Riley actually won regionals and he has that same goal,” Rochester coach Jason Dick said.
Cohron comes into the tournament with the momentum of a first-place finish at regionals. Dick noted that Lancaster will likely have to face the defending state champion, Gabe Hawthorne of White River, in his second round match. Elijzah Spitzer wound up as an alternate to the Mat Classic after finishing fifth in the heavyweight division last weekend.
“It’s been a solid group. They’ve wrestled well throughout the year,” said Dick. “They know what it takes to win and how to correct mistakes and everything you’d ask of a next-level wrestler.”
Centralia’s seven state-bound wrestlers make up the final flank of local wrestlers still entertaining dreams of landing spots on the state podium this weekend. Juan Gaspar (113) and Alex Hicks-Avron (138) both notched regional titles to earn top billing in their brackets. Eddie Matias (126) and Caleb Hylton (170) both finished second last weekend, while Sawyer Kassel (160) finished fourth to qualify for state.
“[Hylton] could place very high, He kind of ran into a buzzsaw last week, but I think that guy is the guy to beat,” Phillips noted. “Eddie is in a tight weight class… If he makes the match athletic then he’s got a very good shot of doing well.”
All the Tigers but Kassel will be making return trips to the state tournament. Hicks-Avron, Gaspar and Matias all finished one win shy of placing in 2019.
Centralia coach Scott Phillips is excited to see what his wrestlers can do on the big stage, including Gaspar who has won more than 20 matches in a row entering the penultimate tournament.
“Juan Gaspar is really only a third-year wrestler but he’s got two wins this year over the Woodland kid, who’s a two-time state placer,” Phillips said. “There’s about four guys in that weight who are all about the same and Juan has the ability to win a state title this year. He’s right there. He’s strong and fast.”
The Mat Classic will begin on Friday morning at the Tacoma Dome and continue through Saturday evening.