TACOMA — The impact that left him writhing on the mat was the second strongest hit Branden Huft absorbed on Friday.
More powerful was the congratulatory high-five the Mountain View wrestler received from his coach.
Huft was driven into the mat midway through his quarterfinal match Friday at the Mat Classic state wrestling championships. He spent about five minutes in agony after his opponent’s shoulder dug into his ribs.
Shortly after the match restarted, Huft again grimaced — this time when the referee raised the 106-pound junior’s arm after pinning Timberline’s Parker Risk.
“I had to go really deep,” Huft said. “It’s all heart. I got him in an arm bar, then gave it my all.”
Mountain View coach Travis Chipman’s post-match huddle with Huft started calmly, but ended with an energetic hand gesture that revealed the coach’s excitement and pride.
“I told him that the body is an amazing piece of machinery,” Chipman said. “We can put ourselves in a position mentally to overcome anything. I was proud of him as a wrestler and a person that he overcame that injury.”
Huft’s victory was part of a remarkable run for Mountain View at the Tacoma Dome. Thunder wresters won all four quarterfinal matches they were in Friday, all in a span of 25 minutes.
As Huft was wrestling, Mountain View’s other 106-pounder, William Taisacan, was working on a 8-4 victory over Peninsula’s Michael Campigotto.
A few minutes later, 113-pound senior Benjamin Dixon held on to beat last year’s 106-pound state champion Homer Romero of Sunnyside, 4-3.
As the clock ticked down in the match, Romero squirmed desperately as he tried to break free and score the tying point.
Dixon wouldn’t let him go.
“I just had to hold on and ride him out,” Dixon said. “Last year I got sixth and I just couldn’t take it. I’ve got to win it this year.”
Chipman, who was honored as the 3A state wrestling coach of the year Friday, praised Dixon’s mental toughness.
“Even though there were a couple questionable calls, he kept himself in it mentally,” Chipman said. “He didn’t worry about the referee or a couple mistakes he made. He worried about wrestling his best.”
Kenji Yamashita capped Mountain View’s quarterfinal run by beating Shadle Park’s Connor Kerr 15-3 in his quarterfinal match. The 138-pound junior’s victory gives the Thunder a good chance at meeting its goal of a top-five finish in the 3A team race. Mountain View is in fifth place with 42.5 points after Friday.
Hudson’s Bay senior Gunnar Metzger made quick work of his opponents Friday. After pinning his first-round opponent in 1:10, he needed just 19 seconds to pin Mark Johnston of Oak Harbor in the quarterfinals.
Prairie’s Dallas Goodpaster is in the semifinals at 220 pounds along with teammate Mario Gonzalez at 160.
Ridgefield’s Grant Gaspar isn’t one to buck tradition.
Half of his hair painted blue, the 120-pound junior punched his ticket to the semifinals with a 7-0 win over Nathan James of Sumner.
“That’s been a tradition for as long as I can remember” Gaspar said of his hair. “I just jumped on board. It’s really fun.”
Stevenson’s Tyler Miller, last year’s runner up at 138-pounds, is in the semifinals after winning his first two matches by a combined score of 27-8.
Of Washougal’s seven state qualifiers, Jessica Eakins, Haven Camden, Erin Locke and Abby Lees won their first-round matches. Lees moved on to the semifinals at 155 pounds
Lisa Spangler of Fort Vancouver advanced to the semifinals. She won her 145-pound quarterfinal match over Warden’s Ashley Martinez 6-1.