The White River Hornets, both boys and girls, proved to be talented and tough during last week’s state wrestling championships.
Both Hornet squads grabbed second-place team honors at Mat Classic XXXI, staged Feb. 15-16 in the Tacoma Dome.
This year’s wrestling extravaganza was unlike any other. A rough stretch of weather the week before had wiped out regional tournaments so, instead of a field of 16 in each weight class, there were 32 in each. With 14 weights on both the boys and girls sides of the competition, that made for a loud and packed Dome.
Both White River squads had entered the Friday-Saturday Mat Classic among the frontrunners for team honors. In the end, the Hornet boys sat behind only Toppenish and the girls trailed only Union High. The boys compete against schools roughly their own size, but all girls teams scramble in a field that includes all schools, regardless of size.
Aside from White River, the region was represented in team standings by the Bonney Lake boys, who finished sixth in the Class 3A competition, and the Sumner boys, who were 10th in the final 4A list. Other teams finished further down the line.
Here’s a look at how the region’s competitors fared.
WHITE RIVER BOYS
The Hornets had more wrestlers at Mat Classic than any team in the state, with 21 spread across the weights. In the end, White River emerged with four state champions: Nate Belcourt at 113 pounds, Gabe Hawthorne at 138, Weston Lyver at 152 and Nate Moore at 160.
Jack Ervien battled to the final match at 170 pounds, taking second place, and Johnny McBride did the same at 182. Other Hornets placing in the top eight were Max Wheeler, third at 182; Cyrus Wheeler, sixth at 220; Ben Milligan, seventh at 106 pounds; and Jaysen Jorgensen, eighth at 220.
BONNEY LAKE BOYS
The Panthers entered with a couple of favorites to take top honors and they didn’t disappoint. Earning state titles were Yusief Lillie at 113 pounds and Brenden Chaowanapibool at 120. Both were champions a year ago, Lillie at 106 and Chaowanapibool at 113.
Also placing for the Panthers were Cody Coffey, second at 152 pounds, and Kieron Lawes, third at 126.
The Spartans had three wrestlers claim fourth-place honors: Austin Cleland at 132 pounds, CJ Richmond at 138 and Marcus Peterson at 145.
Additionally, Nathan Carnicle was fifth at 170 pounds and Johnathon Williams was eighth at 126.
BIG DAY FOR GIRLS
The powerful White River squad boasted an individual champion in Payton Stroud, who won it all at 120 pounds. Also advancing to the championship round was her teammate, Claire DiCugno, who placed second.
White River also received points from Alex Hernandez, who took fifth at 145 pounds; Rachel Poussier, sixth place at 130, and Jalia Williams, seventh at 135.
Others receiving honors in girls’ competition were a pair from Enumclaw High: Kenzie Cormier placed fourth at 110 pounds and Natasha Puzon was fifth at 120.