For three consecutive years, the Orting High Cardinals have played second fiddle in the Class 1A team race at Mat Classic against the Eastern Washington powerhouses.
They’re hoping 2009 is a different story.
After the first day at Mat Classic XXI, Orting is guaranteed to have 12 state placers of the 16 participants it sent to the Tacoma Dome.
Eight Cardinals wrestlers – Drew Templeman (112 pounds), brothers Shannon and Brady Maris (119), Antonio Brown (125), Garrett Mann (130), Nikko Veltri (140), Thompson (145) and reigning 160 champion Taylor Meeks (171) – are through to the semifinals Saturday.
Warden, Lakeside of Nine Mile Falls and Connell each have five wrestlers in the 1A semis. Warden is likely the Cardinals’ biggest threat, and has 11 still alive.
“I’ve been on the second-place team since I was a freshman,” said Orting’s Thompson, a senior. “This team is totally different. There’s fire in their hearts, and in their eyes. I feel we can really do it.”
Some other notes:
&bull 1A: It was a showdown rarely seen this early in the tournament, but reigning 112 champion Skylor Davis, of Zillah, and Lakeside of Nine Mile Falls’ Bryan Baumgarden, the returning 119 runner-up, met in the 1A quarterfinals at 119.
Baumgarden jumped out to an 8-2 lead (almost recording a first-period pin, holding Davis is a cradle for more than a minute), saw it cut to 10-8 before settling for a wild 17-13 triumph.
“I was kind of nervous at first, and really excited. I hate waiting,” the victor said. “Once I was out there, I had to stay focused, stay patient and not let his style get to my style.”
&bull 1A: Something rare could take place Saturday. If Templeman wins his 112 semifinal, as does Vashon’s Sam Chapman, who won at 103 in 2008, the two Nisqually League rivals will meet for a sixth time this season. Templeman has won the five previous meetings.
&bull B: Two-time Mat Classic champion J.J. Gubler, of Republic, spent a total of 2 minutes, 24 seconds on the mat in wins over Davenport’s Justin Wood and Reardan’s Wyatt Anderson in the Class B 140 bracket en route to the finals. Republic advanced five wrestlers to championship matches.
&bull B: Could this be Ocosta heavyweight Kyle Strode’s year? He’s finished as the 285 runner-up in the B ranks for two years running. But he stopped Selkirk’s Neal Coon in 21 seconds in his opening match, and pinned North Beach’s Nick Poplin in 1:15 in the semifinals. He takes on Liberty Bell’s Josh Strohl in the finals.