Mead escaped a double-leg takedown from its first opponent at Mat Classic XXXI – torrential snowfall.
The Panthers and several other teams from the area made the early trek to Tacoma, avoiding Interstate 90’s Snoqualmie Pass.
“Just getting here is the first win, so mission accomplished,” said Mead coach Phil McLean, whose team practiced in Vancouver on Thursday before heading north.
The tournament at the Tacoma Dome starts Friday. Inclement weather around the state forced the event to modify its brackets and scheduling.
Because the overwhelming majority of state-qualifying tournaments across Washington were canceled last weekend, brackets in every classification – 16 wrestlers in each weight class in previous years – have expanded to 32.
Mead and other Greater Spokane League 4A teams were among the rare group to compete in last weekend’s regional tournament at Camas High. Mead finished second behind top-ranked Chiawana.
The Panthers, ranked No. 4 in the most recent Washington Wrestling Report poll, qualified 15 wrestlers to state.
But because the other three 4A region tournaments in the state were canceled, McLean said, the Panthers’ results last weekend won’t factor into seeding at the Mat Classic.
“It’s going to be a unique and different state tournament. More kids will have opportunities to score points for the team,” said McLean, whose team placed second last year. “Our region is very tough, so we’ll be wrestling a lot of the same matches as last week.”
Four of the top-five ranked teams in 4A are from Mead’s region.
Mead senior Chase Tebbets (130 pounds) hopes to conclude his decorated career with three individual state titles. Mead freshman Ryan Clark (106) and Central Valley junior heavyweight Braxton Mikesell are both ranked No. 1 heading into the tournament.
U-Hi is led by standout sophomore Drew Roberts (126), who won a state title in Oregon last year and a Tri-State title in December.
Defending State 3A champion Mt. Spokane, which won the GSL title last month, has the means to repeat – but the No. 2 Wildcats will have to get past top-ranked Yelm.
Mt. Spokane coach Travis Hughes said his wrestlers are eager to compete after two weeks of practicing.
“We’ve been itching to get back,” said Hughes, whose team’s 3A regional was canceled last weekend. “(Larger brackets) makes the tournament less predictable with more variables.”
The Wildcats and Yelm qualified 17 wrestlers for state.
Defending Mt. Spokane state champ Blake Haney (138) looks to repeat and North Central’s Clayton Gilliam (126) is aiming for his second state title after claiming the top spot in 2017. NC is ranked fifth in state.
Mt. Spokane’s Mason Miethe (182), NC’s Kenndyl Mobley (106) and Kadin Shaw (152), and Rogers’ Josh Guzik (285) are ranked No. 1 in their respective weight groups.
“Everybody has to wrestle well for us,” Hughes said. “Our destiny is in our hands. We don’t have to depend on what anyone else does.”
East Valley, led by No. 4 Brennon McDermott (120) and second-ranked Avery Sundheim (126), is ranked seventh heading into the tournament, the highest of area 2A schools.
The lone top-ranked area wrestler in the girls state bracket is Jasmine Fryer (235) of West Valley.
After finishing runner-up in 1A the past four years, Colville is ready to make the next step.
The second-ranked Indians feature senior Trent Baun (132), who will try to accomplish the rare feat of becoming a four-time state champion.
Baun’s teammates – two-time champion Trevor Morrison (160) and defending champion John Knight (182) – will also look to help Colville best top-ranked Granger.
Deer Park, which is also expected to compete for a 1A trophy, features top-ranked Nathan Gregory (106) and Brent Hodgson (145).
In the B bracket, Northwest Christian’s Graham Rocha (138) and Chewelah’s Kaden Krouse (170) are looking to secure back-to-back state titles. Reardan is expected to challenge for a trophy.
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