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SLIDESHOW: WRHS WRESTLING: White River puts two in finals and scores sixth-place finish at state
The goal for White River High wrestlers was to be on the board, in the Top 10, at the end of Mat Classic, the state wrestling tournament.
When the dust settled, the Hornets, who were making a run at leaders Yelm, Enumclaw and North Central Friday, were sitting in sixth behind Yelm, Enumclaw, North Central, Olympic and Union.
For the Hornets, who were state champions in 1995 and had five top-five finishes between 2001 and 2005 including three runner-up team finishes, it felt good to be in winning form.
“It’s good for our program,” coach Joe Klein said. “It’s good to get some emotion back in our program and to get back on the board.
“I can’t stress how exciting it is to have the respect of other teams again.”
“I’m really proud of the team,” said 140-pounder Alec Williams, who along with fellow senior 215-pounder Chase Myers finished second. “They came and showed what White River wrestlers are all about.”
Williams and Myers led the Hornets with runner-up finishes. Williams earned his way into the title bout with a first-round bye, a pin and a 6-5 decision. His loss in the finals came at the hands of South Puget Sound League nemesis Nick Bendon of Bonney Lake. It was the pair’s fifth meeting of the season and this time Bendon came out with a 5-1 victory and the title.
“I kept pushing, hoping maybe he’d crack,” Williams said. “Nick’s a great kid. He showed up and wrestled well.”
Myers, who earned his way into the finals with two falls and a 9-2 decision, hit a brick wall in defending state champion Alec Bird of Everett. Bird picked up his third pin of the tournament with the title.
The Hornets also got valuable team points from freshman Brandon Short, who finished fifth at 119 pounds after scoring a 16-0 technical fall over Justus Strong-Rico of Lakes, and Robert Kautzman, Richard Geddes and Kyle Rodarte.
Kautzman, a senior, finished seventh after scoring an 8-6 decision over Brady Mast of Sedro Woolley.
Geddes and Rodarte, both juniors, finished eighth at 103 pounds and heavyweight, respectively.
The Hornets also took juniors Austin Shirey, Caden Pugmire and Austin Bethel to state.
Every wrestler, Klein said, won a match.
“From the White River Classic to now we’ve been getting better every week,” Klein said. “I’ve never had a group work as hard as this group and it’s good for them to see hard work pays off.”
Williams, Myers and Kautzman are the only graduates on the state squad, leaving a strong group of underclassman to keep up the tradition at the 2A level next season.