4A wrestling: Union’s Godinho, Berfanger cap season with state titles

By Paul Danzer, Columbian Soccer, hockey and Community Sports Reporter



TACOMA — When Noah Cuzzetto took his shot at a third title, Union’s Junior Godinho was ready.

The result was a special finish for the Titan senior and for his father, Union wrestling coach John Godinho.

Junior Godinho scored a takedown in overtime to beat Cuzzetto and claim the championship at 132 pounds on Saturday in the Class 4A tournament at Mat Classic.

Union’s Alex Berfanger also won a state title at the Tacoma Dome, capturing the 170-pound crown as the Titans earned a third-place team trophy.

Union had targeted a team state championship all season. That didn’t happen, as Lake Stevens won with 133 points, followed by Moses Lake (116 1/2 ) and then Union (111).

“I just got so filled with emotions,” Junior Godinho said, recalling the moment he became a champion. “I looked over at my dad and he was so happy. It’s really nice. He’s my biggest supporter and my biggest inspiration.”

Cuzzetto, who transferred to Lake Stevens from Edmonds-Woodway for his senior year, won a state title at 113 pounds last season and at 106 as a sophomore. But Junior Godinho expected to win.

“I wasn’t nervous at all,” he said. “I just had my mind focused on winning. I knew I could win.”

Junior Godinho is best on his feet, but with the score tied 2-2 entering the third round he chose the down position recommended by assistant coach Cory Borges instead of on his feet, where his father wanted him.

“I thought I could get away, but (Cuzzetto) is a good leg rider, so he just held me down,” Junior Godinho said.

In overtime, the wrestlers were back on their feet, until Godinho used his hips to counter a Cuzzetto shot and take his opponent to the mat with 14 seconds left in the one-minute OT period for the clinching points.

“I knew he was going to shoot because it was short time,” Junior Godinho said. “He shot and I hipped into him and everything just happened.”

The moment brought tears to the eyes of his dad.

“He’s been through a lot, being a coach’s son,” John Godinho said. “He works hard every day. I’m so proud of him.”

Berfanger’s title at 170 pounds wasn’t heart stopping, but the 11-4 win over Kent Meridian sophomore Amos Daige was satisfying. Daige won three one-sided decisions to reach the finals, but Berfanger felt good about facing a taller opponent in the finals.

“I’m more of an aggressive wrestler, and the taller you are the less weight you have for muscle so I can overpower them more easily,” Berfanger said.

The Union junior wanted to take an early lead and did, scoring a takedown and three-point nearfall in the closing seconds of the first round.

“I surprised myself with that one. I’m not typically a thrower,” Berfanger said. “He took a shot and was a little off balance and I just went for the head and arm and got it.”

In the third round, Berfanger scored another five points with a takedown and nearfall for an 11-2 lead.

Union senior Daniel Rice took third place at 126. After losing in the semifinals 11-5 to Timmy Martinez of Pasco, Rice won two decisions to take third.

At 195 pounds, Union senior Cody Gromes finished third. In the semifinals he was pinned by Cody Vigoren of Lake Stevens. He then won two close decisions to claim third place.

Titans freshman Tommy Strassenberg took fourth place at 138, winning three matches after his quarterfinal loss before losing 5-3 in the third-place match to Troy Wilson from Rogers of Puyallup. Junior Michael Snediker was fifth at 160.

For Evergreen, junior Austin Wright took third place at 285 pounds, winning four matches after losing in Friday’s quarterfinals. Also for the Plainsmen, senior Ramon Ortiz finished seventh at 126 and sophomore Isaiah Av placed eighth at 113.

For Heritage, junior Tristan Bridges placed fifth at 220 pounds after losing in the semifinals to Mason Ju of Mead. Also for the Timberwolves, senior Karell Abdul Wahhab placed seventh at 120, and senior Antonio Pulido took eighth at 285.

For Battle Ground, senior Aaron Bork placed fourth at 182 pounds and senior Tyler Dady was sixth at 285.

For Camas, junior Bryant Elliott placed fifth at 132 pounds.

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