If anyone knows that anything is possible at a state tournament, it’s White River High wrestling coach Joe Klein. As a former Hornet state champion and assistant coach, he has seen it all.
“We know enough to expect the unexpected,” Klein said. “A couple of No. 4 guys can knock off No. 1 guys. You need to win two the first day.”
The Hornets send five wrestlers to Friday and Saturday’s Mat Classic, the state’s Class 3A tournament at the Tacoma Dome. Those wrestlers earned their spots with a top-four finish Saturday at the regional tournament in Bonney Lake.
It turned out to be a big night for the Hornets, who put Michael Madden into the championship finals at 160 pounds, earned a top-five team finish and saw Klein named Coach of the Year.
“He does a great job for someone outside the building,” Enumclaw High coach Lee Reichert said, referring to Klein’s award. Reichert said it’s hard to coach a team as a teacher on campus, but it takes someone special to hold down a full-time job outside the school and also run a program – and a successful one.
The Hornets finished fourth behind top-ranked and defending state champion Enumclaw, which dominated the competition with 11 in the finals and seven champions, Auburn Mountainview and Bonney Lake.
“We knew with what we lost at the beginning of the season, seriously, we thought we’d be lucky to have two or three go to state,” Klein said. “We’re taking five. Our young guys really stepped up.”
For another week, Madden found himself in the ring with Enumclaw’s Connor Elder. This time the two were vying for the regional title. Elder captured a 9-1 victory, but Madden didn’t let it get him down.
“I’ve improved a lot,” said the White River senior, who didn’t make it out of the district tournament last season and now is making his first trip to state. “There’s no next year anymore. I’ve got to leave it all on the mat.”
He starts the state tournament at 12:30 p.m. Friday against David Huizar of Sunnyside.
Right on his tail was teammate Alec Williams who won a 4-3 decision over Tyee’s Benji Molina to earn third place at 140 pounds. One of the few Horents who have seen state action before, he faces John Janicki of Sedro Woolley at 11:40 a.m.
David Meagher also earned a third-place regional finish. He pinned John Hamilton of Peninsula in 3 minutes, 32 seconds at heavyweight. Meagher meets Josh Stephens of Yelm at 1:30 p.m. Friday to get his state tournament started.
Hornet Jeremy Gurule draws A.J. Hostak of Eastside Catholic at 11 a.m. Friday. Gurule finished fourth at 130 pounds at regionals, suffering a fall to Auburn Mountainview’s T.J. Peretti.
Chase Myers fell to Sumner’s Keifer Comstock, taking the fourth-place spot out of the regional tournament at 215 pounds. Myers clashes with Kyler Crow of Ferndale at 1:10 p.m. in the state opening round.
Follow the action with updated brackets at www.wiaa.com.