It was the kind of moment an athlete is likely to remember a long time.
But just minutes after his buzzer-beating takedown earned Sam Berry a regional wrestling championship, the Union junior could not describe exactly how it happened.
“To be honest, I have a lot of adrenaline going right now, so it’s hard to remember exactly what happened,” Berry said.
There was no shortage of energy or excitement from the Union wrestlers on Saturday at Heritage High School. Three Titans won individual titles during the Class 4A Region III Championships, and Union won the team trophy for the second year in a row.
Nine Titans qualified for next week’s Mat Classic by placing in the top four in the region, with Berry, Daniel Rice and Jon Reynolds advancing as regional champions.
Rice, at 113 pounds, and Reynolds, at 160, delivered the championship victories that pretty much sewed up the team title. The Titans entered the championship matches holding a 3.5-point lead over Skyline of Sammamish. Rice and Reynolds beat Skyline wrestlers head-to-head, significant outcomes in a team race that ended with Union scoring 167.5 points to Skyline’s 158.
“The team race meant a lot. I knew I had to win for my team, ” said Reynolds, who beat Skyline’s Michael Mecham 9-2 in the final at 170 pounds to clinch the team championship.
Rice got the finals off to a strong start for Union, defeating Skyline’s Justin Manipis 5-0 in workmanlike fashion for the 113-pound title.
Workmanlike described many of the Titans on Saturday. But Berry’s battle with Gabe Seward of Inglemoor was downright thrilling.
Berry managed to tie the score at 1-1 with an escape early in the third round. Both wrestlers were aggressive the rest of the way, and each was able to scramble out of trouble, too.
Until Berry somehow spun behind Seward on the edge of the mat, gaining control as time ran out for the two-point win.
Berry said he was not aware that time was about to expire.
“I keep going until they say I won or I lost,” he said. “I don’t look at the scoreboard. With our team, we don’t really look at the score, we just go wrestle as hard as we can for as long as we can.”
Evergreen, which finished fourth in team points, is sending five wrestlers to state. Battle Ground, Camas and Skyview qualified four wrestlers for Mat Classic, and Heritage advanced a pair to the Tacoma Dome.
One of the more entertaining championship battles came at 132 pounds, where Camas senior Austin Miller outscored Battle Ground’s Sean Trenda 13-11.
“That was very fun,” Miller said, noting that he has had three tough battles with Trenda this season. After missing out on state as a junior, Miller is going to Tacoma as a top seed.
“I learned what I needed to do and I put in as much time as I possible could in the wrestling room,” Miller said.
Miller’s victory came minutes after his teammate Tye Lommasson won the title at 126 pounds. The junior beat Skyline’s Joseph DeMatteo 6-3 and will also be heading to state for the first time.
Evergreen also had two regional champions. Sophomore Ramon Ortiz beat Issaquah’s Jordan Hamilton 17-7 in the 120-pound final, and Anthony Thomas secured the 170-pound title by injury default over Union sophomore Alex Berfanger.
“It’s a good medal to have,” Thomas said of the regional gold medal. “But it’s not the one that I want.”
Seniors Adam Peterson from Battle Ground and Jose Nava-Montez from Skyview each won a regional title with pins against Skyline wrestler in their finals. Peterson pinned Joey Gurke 1:12 into their match at 138 pounds.
“I felt pretty confident, and pretty in control today,” Peterson said, adding that after placing fourth and second at regionals previously, getting the gold was rewarding.
Nava-Montez pinned Nate Swanson 5:01 into the 106-pound title match.
“I feel like I’ve passed all my hurdles,” said Nava-Montez, who missed the postseason with injuries a year ago.
A year ago, Union won its first regional wrestling championship. On Saturday, they made it a double.
“We’re not a dynasty,” Union head coach John Godinho said. “We just have a lot of kids who work hard.”