State Wrestling: Experience key to Union, Mountain View trophy hopes

By Micah Rice, Columbian sports editor

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Sports Editor Micah Rice will be tweeting results and updates involving Clark County wrestlers from the Tacoma Dome beginning at 10 a.m. Follow him @col_mrice

Locals wrestling

Click here for a list of all 89 local wrestlers competing at Mat Classic

It's a tempest in the Tacoma Dome.

At any moment of the Mat Classic, some 20 wrestling matches might be happening simultaneously. Those are small cyclones in a sea of humanity, as 20,000 people will attend over two days.

For that spectacle, coaches can do little to prepare wrestlers who have never competed there before.

And that's exactly why Union and Mountain View feel good about their chances at this year's event, which begins Friday at 10 a.m.

Five of Union's 11 state qualifiers wrestled last year at Mat Classic, including three who placed in the top eight. The Titans have their sights on a Class 4A team championship after winning a third straight regional title last weekend.

Four of Mountain View's nine state qualifiers have Mat Classic experience, including two top-eight placers. The Thunder are looking to finish high in the 3A team race after winning their second consecutive regional crown.

To meet those goals, the wrestlers must deal with a scene that's far removed from the humble gymnasiums they competed in during the season.

"I tell them it's the same size of mat, just a bigger arena," Union coach John Godinho said. "It usually takes a year."

Daniel Rice (126 pounds), Junior Godinho (132), Jeremiah Reynolds (152), Alex Berfanger (170) and Cody Gromes (190) are Mat Classic veterans who captured regional titles for the Titans.

But Godinho said that still doesn't make them immune to Mat Classic nerves.

"The conditioning is done," he said. "This week we kept it light. We're just trying to keep the pressure off them."

With eight regional champions, Union wrestlers will be favored in many of the matches in today's first two rounds.

Saturday will likely decide whether the Titans can knock off defending champion Lake Stevens or fellow favorite Moses Lake.

"It all depends on whether or not we can get three or four wrestlers into the finals," Godinho said. "Beyond that, we'll need to have guys take third place instead of fourth, for example."

Mountain View returns state placers Benjamin Dixon (113) and Kenji Yamashita (138) along with Mat Classic veterans William Taisacan (106) and Brandon Proffitt (170).

Thunder coach Travis Chipman said the buildup to Mat Classic lasts the entire season.

"If you focus on quality wrestling in duals and tournaments, by the time you get to Mat Classic you're prepared," he said.

Mountain View stacked its schedule with challenging tournaments and opponents. They clashed with Union, Yelm (which finished sixth in 4A last year), and 11-time Oregon champion Newberg.

That paid off at last weekend's regionals, where Mountain View advanced six wrestlers to the finals.

"Winning a regional title gives you validation," Chipman said. "You can't get to Mat Classic unless you earn it."

Beyond the team races, several local individuals have hopes of high finishes at state. Camas senior Tye Lommasson finished second in 4A last year at 126 pounds. He will compete at 138 along with Union's freshman Tommy Strassenberg, who beat Lommasson for the regional title.

Evergreen senior Ramon Ortiz placed third in 4A at 126 last year. He placed second to Union's Rice at the same weight at regionals.

Hudson's Bay senior Gunnar Metzger finished third in 3A at 160 last year. He won the regional title at 152 last week.

Stevenson senior Tyler Miller placed second in 1A at 138 and won this year's regional title at the same weight class.

In the girls tournament, Washougal qualified seven wrestlers for state. Those include Mat Classic returners Jessica Eakins (106), Haven Camden (130) and Erin Locke (137).