4A wrestling: Union has some work to do at state

Titans tied for fourth after Day 1 of Mat Classic

By Micah Rice, Columbian sports editor

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photoUnion’s Daniel Rice beats Phillip Springsteen of Bethel in the 126-pound quarterfinals on Friday at the Tacoma Dome.

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TACOMA — Alex Berfanger hadn't even put his warmup clothes back on.

Just minutes removed from earning a spot in the Class 4A semifinals at the Mat Classic, the Union junior hurried to where match results were posted on the Tacoma Dome wall.

More than his own results, Berfanger was more concerned Friday with Union's quest for a 4A state wrestling title.

"The team title is what we're going for," he said. "I have my senior year to win the individual title."

What he saw against that wall drew mixed emotions. Union qualified four wrestlers to today's semifinals, but had five others eliminated. Two others remained alive in the consolation rounds.

With 51 points, Union is tied for fourth place and 4 1/2 points behind second-place Tahoma. Lake Stevens, however, leads with 70 points and has six wrestlers in today's semifinals.

To win, Union would need a minor miracle.

"We're going to have to come through the back door," Union coach John Godinho said. "That's usually how these state tournaments are won, in the losers bracket."

Berfanger was Union's most dominating wrestler Friday. The 170-pounder won his first match 13-2, then beat Jefferson's Heng Yon in the quarterfinals 10-2.

He said he didn't feel his best.

"I came out a little sluggish in that first match," he said. "I ate too much, I guess."

Daniel Rice also is in the semifinals. The 126-pounder won a hard-fought quarterfinal match against Bethel's Phillip Springsteen 2-1, scoring the deciding points with just 28 seconds left.

Junior Godinho also won a narrow match to reach the 132-pound semifinals. He beat Central Valley's Elijah Kilborn 3-2.

Cody Gromes joined the semifinal party at 195-pounds, winning his quarterfinal match over Tahoma's Cooper Thomas 7-5.

Godinho, honored as the 4A state wrestling coach of the year Friday, had a simple message to his wrestlers who remain alive in the consolation bracket.

"Do it for the team," he said.

Two other local wrestlers remained alive for 4A individual titles.

Tristan Bridges of Heritage reached the semifinals at 220 pounds. After winning his opening match 9-8, he had an easier time in the quarterfinals, beating Federal Way's Andrzej Hughes-Murray 10-4.

Bryant Elliot of Camas reached the 132-pound semifinals. He beat Spanaway Lake's Brian Short 7-4 before outlasting Braedon Orrino of Central Valley 7-5.