WRESTLING: Tahoma crowns two, KW one at Pac Coast

Kentwood’s Ruben Navejas avenged an early-season loss and pinned down a title.

Tahoma’s Tyler Lamb and Nick Bayer continued to lead the way for the Bears.

And Auburn star Jake Swartz lost for the first time in more than a year, albeit on a technicality.

Add it up and last weekend’s 34-team Pacific Coast Championship at Hudson’s Bay High School in Vancouver, Wash., proved to be as tough and compelling as ever.

Considered one of the year’s toughest wrestling tournaments, Graham-Kapowsin ran away with the team title, scoring 201.5 points. Deer Park was second with 178.5.

After that, the results had a decidedly South Puget Sound League North Division feel as Tahoma took third with 172 points followed by Enumclaw (171.5), Auburn (130) and Kentwood (128). Enumclaw, which hasn’t been part of the North Division for three years, won the Class 3A state title last year.

“Sixth place in a power tournament like that is really good,” Kentwood coach Ken Sroka said. “It’s a tough tournament.”

Indeed it is.

Matter of fact, Kentwood 103-pounder Navejas had to avenge a loss from earlier this season simply to advance to the finals. He did so in fine fashion, upending Bryce Fisher of Rogers High in the semifinals, 6-2. Outside of that one close victory, Navejas was a pinning machine. Of his five victories, four came via pin, including the title, when he put away South Kitsap’s Terrill Wilson in 1:04.

“Bryce and (Ruben) have wrestled a few years before high school, so it’s always a good match,” Sroka said. “You can tell there’s no love lost out there.”

Navejas was Kentwood’s lone champion. Teammate Cody Quinn (145) was the only other Kentwood wrestler to qualify for the finals while four others — Hayden Peterson, Luke Angevine, Nathan Herrick and Billy Creighton — placed among the top eight. Quinn, a three-time state placer, lost to Bonney Lake’s Addison Tracy in the finals, 6-5.


While Kentwood was good, Tahoma showed it deserves to be mentioned among a small handful of elite teams considered contenders for this year’s Class 4A state title.

The Bears placed eight wrestlers among the top seven in their respective weight classes, including titles from Lamb (135) and returning state champion Bayer (171).

Lamb (16-1 this season) hung on for a narrow 1-0 decision over Auburn Mountainview’s Tyler King. The lone point of the match came in the second period, when King was called for locking hands.

“It’s a big tournament. It’s a good indicator,” said Lamb, a junior who already has placed twice at state. “A lot of people say that’s how you’re going to do at state. It’s kind of like a warm-up for state.”

Things weren’t quite as tight for Bayer, who ripped off three straight pins to start the tournament. Bayer then worked over Graham-Kapowsin’s Chris Sweet, 8-4, before handling Michael McCalister of Rogers High in the finals, 14-6.

Other placers for Tahoma included Steve Hopkins (fifth at 103), Jordan Higa (seventh at 135), J.R. Rea (fourth at 145), John Buban (fifth at 152), Zack Shuessler (sixth at 160) and Konner Knudtsen (fifth at 215).

With state more than a month away, Tahoma’s strong performance begs the question: Can this group challenge for a state trophy?

“Yes, it can,” Bears coach Chris Feist said. “I believe that as a staff and, more importantly, our boys are starting to believe that.”

The top four teams at state bring home hardware.

Although both Kentwood and Tahoma delivered solid performances on Saturday, the buzz after the tournament circled around Swartz, Auburn’s 189-pound star.

Swartz, a two-time state champion who hadn’t lost a match since Tri-State his junior season, fell in overtime to Reid Chivers of Bellingham, 2-1. Swartz was dinged for a caution — his third of the match, resulting in a point for Chivers — at the beginning of overtime for not having his foot on the starting line. It was roughly an inch to the right, Auburn coach John Aiken noted.

“It was from an official who was not giving verbal commands to the wrestlers. This guy wasn’t saying anything,” Aiken said. “It was overtime and he didn’t let the wrestlers decide the match. Normally, you don’t see something like that. It’s not like he was gaining an advantage — 99 percent of the officials will remind you to put your foot on the line.”

It was the match most of the crowd — and many of the wrestlers — had been waiting all afternoon to see. Both Swartz and Chivers are two-time state champions.

Neither wrestler managed much during regulation, each notching a one-point escape.

“It’s really frustrating,” lamented Swartz, who will wrestle on scholarship at Boise State University next year. “I had waited for (this match) since Tri-State since he was supposed to be there. It’s always hard to lose. I will always think about it when I am training, but it’s over and done with now and there’s nothing I can do about it.”


Kentlake’s Austin Carrillo showed plenty of guts on Saturday at the 16-team Pacific Northwest Classic at University High in Spokane.

Carrillo, a 145-pounder, pulled out three narrow decisions to become the Falcons’ lone finalist of the tournament. The Kentlake standout was pinned in the finals by Shadle Park’s Tamrich Perez in 3:52.

Four other Falcons finished among the top six at the tournament: Jeff Harjejausen (sixth at 103), Tyler Potts (sixth at 119), Ricky Sturza (sixth at 130) and Greg Eley (third at 160).