Bauer, Gray become Hornets’ first two-time state champs
Back to back.
Led by two-time state champions Sam Bauer and Jason Gray and seven other state medallists, the Enumclaw High wrestlers did exactly what they had been saying they could do all season – win back-to-back state Class 3A titles.
“Back to back, that’s been our motto all season, starting with our two captains (Bauer and Gray) and spread through the team,” coach Lee Reichert said. “It’s an era.
“Everyone else wants a state championship. To be state champions twice is special.”
Reichert should know. He won three straight titles while head coach at Kentwood in the 1990s.
“We’re going to sit back and cherish every minute,” he said. “Next winter someone will try to take it away. We’re going to enjoy it with the students, parents and community.”
During the course of two days at Mat Classic in the Tacoma Dome, the highlights and memories kept rolling.
The Hornets led the pack of 3A schools from the first round and never looked back, finishing the night with 174 points. Yelm was a distant second with 139 points. Along with the Hornets, five South Puget Sound League 3A schools finished in the Top 20. Bonney Lake came in sixth, Auburn Mountainview was ninth, Franklin Pierce, 10th, Sumner, 17th, and White River, 18th.
The Hornets, who took a school record 14 to Tacoma, put a school record four wrestlers in the finals, including defending state champions Bauer and Gray, who’ve been leading the team all season.
Bauer cruised through the 125-pound bracket before running into Sumner’s Tyler Wooding for the third-straight week, where Bauer scored a 3-2 victory for the title.
The path to the crown was quick for the EHS senior who pinned his opening opponent Jake Portes of O’Dea in 2 minutes, 55 seconds, then topped Patrick Benson of Yelm, 8-2, and pinned Kevan Kelsey of Union in 2:41.
For Bauer, after finishing second his sophomore year and winning the 119-pound title last season, the entire season was about winning the crown and pushing the team to repeat.
“I hope all the guys I pushed are going to push the next group of guys,” said Bauer, who finished the season undefeated and is headed to Northern Colorado.
His partner in mat crime, Gray, cruised through the 140-pound weight class with his sights set on going head-to-head with defending state champion Brandon Yeik of Olympic.
The championship bout turned out to be a battle, with Gray winning 9-7.
“State champs don’t go down easy,” Reichert said. “We knew he’d be tough.”
The senior, who will suit up for Highline Community College in the fall, not only became a two time champion, but became Enumclaw’s first four-time state place winner. He finished third his freshman year, fourth his sophomore season and won the 125-pound crown in 2008.
Gray, who called the team title “a blessing,” pinned Andrew Parada of Meadowdale in 1:04 to start the tournament, then scored an 18-3 technical fall over Eli Narte of Bainbridge Island and another, 22-6, over Adam Raemer of Port Angeles.
Next in line for a state title was 160-pound Conner Elder. The senior started the quest with an 8-0 decision over Connor Johnson of Mount Vernon and followed it with a 3:59 pin of Olympic’s Shane Galeski and a 7-0 decision over Caleb Malychewski of Camas.
It was the 7-3 loss in the championship bout with Steve Henry of Capital that caught Elder, but he was gracious in defeat.
“It’s great to be a part of,” he said of the team’s history-making journey. “I’m glad that I can contribute to the team’s success.”
Junior Brad McCutchen, who suffered a 5-0 loss to Alec Bird of Everett in the 215-pound championship match, was also gracious in defeat.
“He was really stronger than I thought he was,” McCutchen said, but was happy to be part of the team title. “It’s a once in a lifetime chance.”
McCutchen banged out two pins – 42 seconds and 5:50 – over Joe Janicki of Sedro Woolley and Daven Camacho of Chief Sealth, respectively, and then scored a 10-5 win over Kyler Crow of Ferndale.
“The kid was just strong enough to take things away from us,” Reichert said. “For Brad to go from a state alternate last year to the state finals is huge. I couldn’t be more proud.”
State titles are not won entirely on the backs of finalists.
Gray’s 140-pound sparring partner Josh Musick finished third, scoring a 15-0 technical fall over Eli Narte of Bainbridge. There was some joy in Gray’s victory for Musick, the EHS sophomore lost a close match to Yeik in the quarterfinals.
Musick started the day with a 17-0 technical fall over Preston Baich of West Valley-Yakima. Musick came back with a 42-second pin over Dave Remmen of Prairie, a 20-4 technical fall over Ryan Makela of Mount Si and a 14-0 win over Adam Raemer before facing Narte.
Jacob Jokela was also a third-place finisher for the Hornets, posting an 18-3 technical fall over Andre Popich of O’Dea for third at 145 pounds. Jokela kicked off Friday’s competition with a 15-0 technical fall over Sam Olsen of Port Angeles before falling 7-5 to Andre Popich of O’Dea. He then won four straight including the match for third and fourth, starting with a 15-0 technical fall over Nelson Petrone of Meadowdale and including a 4-2 decision over Ricky Simon of Union and 7-1 victory over Scott Lindquist of Columbia River.
At 130, senior Wayne Horton finished fourth after dropping a 3-2 match to Auburn Mountainview’s T.J. Peretti. Horton started the tournament with a 40-second pin of P.J. Pelligrini of O’Dea and a 6-5 decision over Levi Koetje of Mt. Vernon. After dropping a 10-9 loss to Caleb Thornhill of Yelm, he came back to pin James Bradley of Yelm in 1:39 before facing Peretti.
Mike Staples, a senior, finished sixth at 189. He pulled out of the final match with an injury. Staples, a senior, started with a 5:18 pin over Matt Raine of Lakeside and an 11-3 decision over Jerry Conteras of Everett. He lost a 13-2 decision over Andres Garcia of Bremerton before the match for fifth and sixth.
Junior Kyle Young finished seventh at 135 pounds, topping Sean Biltoft of East Valley-Spokane, 5-2, for that spot. After losing his opener to eventual champion Shane Hunt of Sedro Woolley, Young topped Aaron St. Martin of Juanita 6-2, then Hamilton Noel of Liberty-Issaquah 7-3. Then suffered a 6-2 loss to Caleb Gifford of Hanford.
Travis Reano, a 103-pound freshman, lost his opener to eventual runner-up Nathan Gonzales of Sunnyside, but came back to pin Dan Velasquez of Liberty-Issaquah in 1:35. He then lost a 7-0 decision to Joseph Bratz of Glacier Peak.
Kario Wallin, a 152-pound sophomore, won his opener with a 2:34 pin over Matt Skurnik of Juanita then lost to Zack Wilkes of Mount Spokane and again to Andre Courie of Timberline, 6-3.
Senior Tyler Rewoldt lost his opener, 11-7, to Mason Remy of Bainbridge Island and then topped Edd Allen of Hudson’s Bay 11-9 before falling to Clinton Coulter of Union 9-3.
Sophomore Marcus Nichols also participated at 112 pounds. Senior Joey VanWinkle, nursing a sore ankle, participated at 171 pounds.
Don’t expect the Hornets to be happy with two state titles.
“The program is escalating,” Reichert said.
“The junior class will be strong,” McCutchen said.
“Success breeds success,” Reichert said. “It spreads through the team and when that happens, great things happen.”