It just keeps getting better for the Mountain View wrestling program, and the Prairie Falcons were as perfect as they could be Saturday night in the finals of the Class 3A Region III championships at Kelso High School
A week after winning their second consecutive district team title, the Thunder won the first regional title in the program's history. Mountain View got past Kelso by 20 points in a tournament that was dominated by the Greater St. Helens League.
"It takes a pretty tough group to do it," said Mountain View junior Kenji Yamishita, who won the 138-pound title. "The best we'd ever done was third place, and that was a really tough group."
This title makes this Thunder team the toughest.
Mountain View got the trophy, but it was Prairie that won the night under the finals spotlight.
The Falcons had four champions, all with interesting stories to tell. Wil Treadwell (120 pounds) was a three-time state alternate. Mario Gonzalez (160) did not even qualify for the region last year. Tyler Duncan (182) had never won a varsity tournament before Saturday. And capping it off, Dallas Goodpaster (220) was the lone freshman to win a title at this tournament.
The Falcons went 4-1 in the finals — and the loss had to happen. Gonzalez beat teammate Luke Middelstadt at 160 pounds.
Benjamin Dixon joined Yamishita as Mountain View champions, claiming the 113-pound title.
"I knew I had to help us," said Dixon, who beat Kelso's Abundio Victoriano 11-8. "I was the only one wrestling a Kelso kid. I had to get the win for my team."
Yamishita and Dixon will get their names on the board in Mountain View's wrestling room, as regional champs.
"It's hard to get on that board," Yamishita said. "It's pretty cool to get up there. You leave a legacy behind."
Treadwell started Prairie's epic night as the Falcons sent six wrestlers to regionals and all six qualified for state.
Treadwell appeared to be the happiest guy in Southwest Washington after his victory.
"I've always been one match away, one match away," he said of his near-misses in the past. "Do you want to pinch me? I don't really know what just happened there. Right now, I just want to go hug everybody."
Gonzalez, a junior, credited Middelstadt for making him a regional champion. He and Middelstadt prepare each other every day in practice.
"The goal is to meet at finals every Saturday for the month of February," Gonzalez said.
Duncan, a junior, topped Columbia River's Jeremiah Patrick for his title. Tied 2-2 going into the third round, Duncan got an escape and takedown and held off for a 5-3 victory.
"I don't even know what to think. That's my first varsity tournament I've ever won," Duncan said.
Goodpaster pinned Ryan Tonder of Mountain View in 35 seconds. The Kelso announcer said he didn't even have time to give Goodpaster's bio. A freshman, Goodpaster credited hard work.
"Just lifting weights as a young kid and wrestling club since I was little," he said.
Aaron Blaine of Hudson's Bay (145 pounds) won his second consecutive regional title. A few minutes later, another Eagle claimed a championship when Gunnar Metzger won at 152.
"I've been having a tough time on the mat this year," said Blaine, who said he is healthy for the first time this season. "It feels good to get back in the groove."
After finishing third at state last year, his goal next week at Mat Classic is simple: "Win it."
Metzger said the Eagles are starting a tradition, with six wrestlers making it to state this season.
"Hudson's Bay is making a comeback in sports," he said.
Columbia River's Wyatt Gomes finished the night with a second-round pin in the 285-pound class.
"Do what it takes. Just do whatever it takes," Gomes said.
The Greater St. Helens League followed that advice Saturday. Adding the Kelso champions, the GSHL won 12 of the 14 titles. Mountain View scored 196 to Kelso's 176. Prairie was third at 131.5
Mountain View got the team title. Prairie had the most championships. And Mat Classic awaits one tough league.