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SLIDESHOW: EHS STATE WRESTLING: Hornets run at third title goes to the wire
For most teams, a second-place finish at the state wrestling tournament is worth celebration. For the two-time defending state champion Enumclaw High wrestling squad, watching the Class 3A state championship trophy go to the Yelm Tornadoes was as tough as the two days of competition.
The Hornets were the leaders after Friday’s Mat Classic rounds at the Tacoma Dome and were ahead until Saturday’s finals when Yelm came out with an almost eight-point lead. With three each in the finals, everyone knew it would be nip and tuck.
“We came in as two-time state champion so our goals are pretty high,” coach Lee Reichert said of his Hornets. “Our goal is to win, you can’t get any higher than that. You have to give Yelm credit. They came out twice and wrestled well just like we did.”
Reichert was referring to Yelm’s past two runner-up finishes to his Hornets.
In the end it was 6.5 points that separated Yelm and Enumclaw, 148.5 to 142. North Central finished third and Olympic and Union rounded out the top five with White River taking sixth.
“This was a run for your money night, down to the end,” Reichert said. “It can’t get any better for the kids and fans, nobody was leaving. I’d like to thank the fans for their support all season long.
“It wasn’t one kid or one place it was a team effort to make a run at it,” Reichert said.
That team effort included state champion Hunter File, runners-up Josh Musick and Kario Wallin and place winners Lucas Somera, Kyle Young, Andrew Fox, Chance Mitchell, Colton Malek and Steven Knapp.
“I’m proud of the kids’ performance,” Reichert said. “They showed character. We’ve got a lot of young kids coming back.”
That group of youngsters includes the three finalists, starting with title-winner File, who earned his 125-pound crown in dramatic fashion after a nail-biter with Nathan Brown of North Central.
The Enumclaw junior scored a reversal in the final nine seconds of the championship match to send it into overtime and then won with a takedown in the closing four seconds for the crown.
“I gave it all I had,” said File, who earned his trip to the title match with a 12-7 decision, a pin and an 8-0 win. “I really worked hard, getting up at 4 in the morning to run three miles, working with Jake (Gonzales, an EHS former state champion and Oregon State all-American). I knew it was short time left and I had to get it done.”
At 152 pounds, it was Tyler King’s turn to face the Musick again. This time the dance went to the Auburn Mountainview Lion, who had lost to the Enumclaw junior all season. It was looking like it might happen again, until King scored a takedown in the final seconds for a 2-0 victory and the title.
“I think I went in a little too confident and I made that mistake,” said Musick, who scored two pins and a 13-2 decision on his way to the title round. “He kept wrestling me close each time.”
“Each time he starts to figure out a few things,” Reichert said of the King-Musick matchup. “Josh has had an outstanding season. He was third last season and second this year. We’re proud of him.”
In the 160-pound championship, Enumclaw junior Kario Wallin and Olympic High’s Caleb O’Halek kept it scoreless for the first round. Then O’Halek picked up a reversal in the second period and a one-point escape in the third for a 3-1 win.
“I couldn’t work with what he was giving,” Wallin said. He struggled to grip O’Halek’s sweating body. “I was happy with the team and having the coaches push us.”
Wallin earned his place in the finals’ spotlight with a 54-second opening-round pin, an 11-3 decision and a 15-4 decision.
Seniors Young and Fox were medal winners at 135 pounds. Young finished fourth after a 7-6 loss to Derek Entz of Shadle Park and Fox was seventh after winning a 10-4 decision over Blake Johnson of Mercer Island.
Malek, a sophomore, finished fourth at 171 pounds after an 8-4 loss to Steve Conn of Kennedy.
Somera, a freshman, earned a sixth-place finish at 130 pounds after a 4-2 loss to Darren Bunke of Shadle Park.
Seniors Mitchell and Knapp finished seventh – Mitchell at 145 pounds after pinning Torrey Tuner of Franklin Pierce and Knapp at 215 pounds, going out with a winning 35-second pin over T.J. Blackburn of Mercer Island.
The Hornets also took senior Riley Klein, who ran into North Central finalist Brown early in the 125-pound weight division, and senior D.J. Qualls, who opened at 189 pounds with a pin over Jeffery Lueth of Yelm, giving the Hornets’ valuable team points.