3 wrestlers from plateau earn state medals
February 20, 2013
By Lillian O'Rorke
The plateau was well represented at the 25th annual Mat Classic Feb. 15-16 where 10 area wrestlers battled the state’s top athletes for a chance to medal in high school’s biggest tournament.
After taking second at the Region 3 Tournament the weekend before, Skyline filled eight of the 14 weight classes at the state championship.
By the time the two-day tournament was just about over, the excitement of having eight wrestlers make it the final 16 had taken its toll on Gus Kiss’s vocal cords. By 2 p.m. Saturday, the Skyline coach’s voice was all but gone.
“We’re really proud of the fact that we brought eight kids and one alternate,” he said in an almost whisper. “It’s a culmination of hard work and dedication, and it’s nice to see the end result.”
Just like he did in his run up to state, Skyline’s 220 pound wrestler Sean Mcalhaney came from behind and swept the competition.
Having lost his first bout to Brandon Champaco of Spanaway Lake – who eventually finished four places behind Mcalhaney – the Skyline senior pushed on and won his next five matches. He sealed the deal in the final battle for third place by pinning Lake Stevens’ Shaq Reed in 4:31.
“I’m stoked. When I first started wrestling this year, I was off to a terrible start. So, everything now is just like a blessing,” he said with a wide grin on his face. “I went 0-3 my first three matches, I was unseeded in KingCo, and I won KingCo and won Regionals. And now to place third at state is like a dream come true.”
After taking second at regionals the week before, senior Joey Gurke was off to a good start. He swept both his matches Feb. 15, the first with a 10-2 major decision and second by pinning Richland’s Pryce Seely in four minutes and 52 seconds.
But those would be his only two wins. Gurke lost the semi final match the next morning 12-3 to Joshua Smith of Kent Meridian. Unable to recover, he lost his next two matches to finish in sixth place.
Skyline’s other state wrestlers included Nate Swanson at 106, Justin Manipis at 113, Joseph DeMatteo at 126, Tristan Steciw at 132, Bo Longmore at 145, and Michael Mecham at 160. All six finished in the top four at regionals but did not medal at state.
Eastlake sent two wrestlers to state. Both of them seniors, Eric Harper went as a 195-pound competitor in the 4A contest and Sabrina Handlon wrestled in the girls 100-pound class.
Harper entered the Mat Classic as the 195 region 3 champ.
Out of the gate Feb. 15, he pinned Anthony Thees of Lake Stevens in the first minute-and-a-half, however his 6-3 loss later that evening knocked him out of the running for first place.
Harper won his next two matches, pinning Tristan Baus of Snohomish and beating Olympia’s Tanner Hartsoch 5-4, but then suffered a 6-1 defeat by Joseph Meyer of Puyallup.
With one last chance to end state and his high school wrestling career with a win, Harper faced Eastmont’s Kyle Hoffman in the battle for fifth place. With the first period’s only takedown, the Eastlake senior started out with a two-point lead, which he rode all the way to end, finally winning 6-3 for a fifth place finish.
“After a loss you can dwell on it, but I came back and I got fired up and stuck with it and ended up winning,” said Harper. “There are not that many kids who get to win their last match so that’s pretty awesome…I’ve been doing it since I was in second grade, so it’s kind of sad for it to come to an end, but it’s been a fun ride.”
Handlon also entered the state tournament as regional champ but was handed a 7-2 loss by Central Kitsap’s Alison Johnson.
She landed one final win in her next match by pinning Akayaisia Sumandig of Mt. Tahoma in the first 40 seconds, but lost the chance to medal when she was beaten 8-6 in overtime in her third, and final match.
“It’s kind of like life, it never goes as you plan it,” said the Eastlake coach, Dexter Beckstead. “Everyone wants to make it to the finals tonight, and there are a lot of guys that didn’t even make it. … It’s a different level of intensity. The only difference is – the moves are all the same – it’s how hard they do them. Rather than kind of floating through it you have to explode through it and that’s the difference. These are pretty good athletes.”
Reach Reporter Lillian O’Rorke at firstname.lastname@example.org or 392-6434, ext. 232.