MAT CLASSIC XXI: WRESTLERS TO WATCH
Ruben Navejas, Kentwood, 103
Notable: Entered state semifinals last year with unblemished 39-0 record, but took fifth. Enters tournament this year at 34-2, both losses coming to Bryce Evans (Rogers of Puyallup). Navejas also has beaten Evans and the two are likely to meet for the title.
Matt Anderson, Auburn Mountainview, 112
Notable: Won sub-regional and regional title and looks to become Auburn Mountainview’s first-ever state champ.
Michael Turner, Auburn Riverside, 119
Notable: There hasn’t been many more consistent wrestlers in the area the last several years than Auburn Riverside’s Turner. He’s making his fourth consecutive state appearance this weekend and is looking to bring home his first medal. Turner enters the tournament at 34-4 this year and is fresh off a regional title.
Kelly Maughan, Auburn, 125
Notable: Maughan has quietly become one of Auburn’s top wrestlers. He took sixth at state last year and is a solid sleeper to vie for a top three spot this time around. He enters the tournament at 29-5.
Tyler Lamb, Tahoma, 135
Notable: One of Tahoma’s many talented juniors, Lamb is a two-time state placer who could vie for a title this weekend. He enters state with a 36-3 record this season.
Tyler King, Auburn Mountainview, 135
Notable: King has been just that the last two weeks at the sub-regional and regional tournaments. With teammate Matt Anderson at 112, he could become school’s first-ever state champion.
Jolene Crook-Meyers, Kentwood, 140
Notable: Known more for her soccer accolades, Crook-Meyers also is one of the state’s most talented female wrestlers. She won sub-district and district titles, hardly breaking a sweat in either. She enters state with a 25-3 record this year and a favorite to win her weight class.
Antonia Navejas, Kentwood, 152
Notable: Navejas is making her third straight trip to the big show and, barring a big surprise, should be coming home with her second state title Saturday night. Ranked first in the state and fifth nationally, Navejas is one tough customer who brings in a 19-0 record this year and is 94-20 for her career.
Nick Bayer, Tahoma, 171
Notable: While state is a pressure cooker for a lot of kids, Bayer remains one of the calmest mat technicians you’ll ever see. He stormed back from a third-period deficit to win last year’s 160-pound title. This year, he won’t sneak up on anybody as he’s the odds-on favorite to win the 171-pound crown. At 38-2 this year, he hopes to become Tahoma’s first two-time state champion since Andrew Johnson accomplished the feat just two years ago.
Dylan Rutledge, Auburn, 171
If it wasn’t for Bayer’s presence, Rutledge likely would be the favorite to win it all at 171. That said, the Auburn standout has beaten Bayer once this year in four attempts.
Jake Swartz, Auburn, 189
Notable: If you’re going to the state tournament to see just one wrestler, this is the one you’ll want to watch. There isn’t a more dominating wrestler in the state than Auburn’s Swartz, who enters the tournament at 32-1 this year and is 144-12 for his career. He already holds the school’s all-time win mark and, with a title this weekend, can become Auburn’s first-ever three-time state champ.
Konner Knudtsen, Tahoma, 215
Notable: This junior has come into his own this year, winning sub-regional and regional titles. Knudtsen is in a loaded bracket, but has the ability to challenge for his first state title. He enters the tournament with a 35-4 record this year and is ranked third in the state.