Fearless Metzger captures 3A state wrestling crown

Bay senior credits MMA work for helping him win

By Micah Rice, Columbian Sports Editor



TACOMA — Thousands of onlookers. State championship pressure. A tough opponent.

None of that intimidated Gunnar Metzger.

The Hudson’s Bay senior was a human steamroller to his opponent in the 152-pound 3A wrestling state title match Saturday at the Tacoma Dome.

Metzger barged Malik Haythorne around the mat before pinning the Hazen senior 2:37 into the match.

Beyond the drills and fitness standard to wrestlers, Metzger also has dabbled in mixed martial arts since he was 15. His Facebook page boasts a 5-1 record in events around the region. YouTube has footage of his fights.

Compared to the chain-link octagon that surrounds MMA bouts, a wrestling mat is as threatening as a sleeping pad.

“From a skill standpoint, wrestling is tougher,” Metzger said. “From a fear standpoint, it’s definitely MMA. You’re not afraid of anything after that.”

Rivals at Mat Classic can be forgiven if they now fear Metzger. Three of his four matches ended in pins, including the tournament’s fastest of 19 seconds in the quarterfinals.

Metzger finished third in the same weight class at last year’s Mat Classic. He credits his improvement to a cross-fit oriented training program.

“It made a huge difference in my strength all over,” Metzger said. “I can go stronger for longer.”

Metzger was Clark County’s lone 3A state champion among three finalists Saturday. Kenji Yamashita and Benjamin Dixon, both of Mountain View, came up short in their title matches.

Dixon finished second at 113 pounds as Jesse Torres of Sunnyside won the title match 11-6.

The senior fell behind early and saw that deficit grow to 9-5 after two rounds. From there, Dixon couldn’t impose his will and prevent Torres from riding out the match.

“He was riding the edge of the mat the whole time,” Dixon said. “I tried to turn him, but I just couldn’t.”

Yamashita’s match was much closer. Decatur’s Isaiah Diggs squeaked out a 7-6 victory to claim the 138-pound title. Trailing 6-3 midway through the final round, the senior nearly clawed back enough points, but simply ran out of time.

Two Mountain View 106-pounders couldn’t reach the finals, but didn’t come home empty-handed.

After losing their semifinal matches, Branden Huft and Will Taisacan each won a consolation round to earn a berth in the third-fourth place match. Huft won that contest 3-1.

Mountain View was the highest local finisher in the 3A team race, finishing in sixth place with 80 1/2 points. North Central won the title with 108 1/2 points.

Prairie wrestlers took home a pair of top-four finishes. Dallas Goodpaster lost his 220-pound semifinal match 4-2, but rebounded to win a consolation match and the third-place match. Fellow Falcon Mario Gonzalez placed fourth at 160 pounds.

In the Class 1A ranks, Tyler Miller of Stevenson finished second in the state for the second straight year. After winning his 138-pound semifinal 15-13 in four overtimes, he was beaten 5-0 in the final by Diego Hernandez of Zillah.

Washougal’s Abby Lees also survived overtime in the semifinals, winning her 155-pound match 5-3. She fell short in the title match, losing to Tumwater’s Megan Johnson 6-2.

Haven Camden of Washougal and Lisa Spangler of Fort Vancouver both claimed fourth place in their respective weight classes.

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