Kentwood’s Alex Long realized his dream by getting to the big show at the Tacoma Dome, and performing well.
The 152-pound senior went on a tear in his weight division, surprising Auburn Mountainview’s Brennen Hanson with a 4-3 decision in the semifinals at Mat Classic XXXI late Saturday night. But in the final, Curtis’ Adrian St. Germain (29-4), a two-time state champion, defused Long by major decision, 14-2.
“Never been here before. My first time in the Dome,” Long said afterward. “I’m a state medalist. It’s the best I could do and I’m happy about it. … I just wanted to be on top of that podium.”
Other Kentwood state placers were: Wylder Kraght, 113 pounds, sixth; Carson Yancey, 132, eighth; and Dominic Kremer, 195, seventh.
Kentlake’s Alex Lopez was seventh at 138 pounds. Kentridge’s Tyler Smith took seventh at 145 pounds. Rodrigo Teixeira of Kent-Meridian finished eighth at 160.
Kentwood was ninth in the team chase. Chiawana of Pasco ran away with the 4A title.
The WIAA doubled the draw for each weight class, a move necessitated after a major regional snowstorm wiped out last week’s regional tournaments. Larger fields meant more bouts that stretched the plans of coaches, tested the patience of fans and pushed the performances of wrestlers at a prolonged mat show played out well into the night.
Kentwood girls shine
The Conquerors’ Alexandria Sanford, a junior, settled for second at 145 pounds. Ivy Kraght, another junior at 135, finished third.
Sanford scored four quick, first-round falls before Ephrata senior Mya Spencer caught and pinned Sanford at 5:59 in the final.
“It got off to a rough start but I’m really happy with the way it ended,” Sanford said of her season. “I improved from last year … hopefully next year I’ll be able to take it all.”
Kraght pinned North Kitsap’s Elise Scrafford in the third round for the bronze.
A stinging loss 13 weeks ago followed Ofa He Lotu Tuifua to the Tacoma Dome.
But the Kent-Meridian sophomore wrestler quickly atoned for her only loss of the season, pinning the same girl, Aberdeen’s Tatum Heikkila, who pinned her in the same round at the season-opening Lady Jag Kickoff Invitational at Emerald Ridge on Dec. 1.
With the stakes much higher at state, Tuifua (16-1) went on the attack, took down Heikkila (24-1) and pinned her 37 seconds into the second round to repeat as 190-pound state champion. Tuifua, as a freshman in only her third year of organized wrestling, became the first Royal to wear a state girls wrestling crown by capturing the weight class last February.
Tuifua, a powerful and poised competitor, left little doubt as to who was the better wrestler in the anticipated rematch.
“I just wanted to be aggressive and wrestle smart,” Tuifua said.
The earlier loss to Heikkila only fueled Tuifua’s drive to the championship.
“It like woke me up,” she said. “It made me go harder.”
Added her coach, Jesus Valdez: “It (the loss) was in the back of her mind all year long. She’s been working hard all year long to try to get this. She dominated her, and she has dominated the other wrestlers this year. She is one of the more dominant wrestler that I have ever seen.”
Tuifua delivered four falls and a major decision during her title run.