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News / Sports / Prep Sports

All-Region Boys Wrestling: Noah Koyama, Union

Dominant junior season has just one loss and a state title

By Micah Rice, Columbian Sports Editor
Published: March 16, 2024, 6:05am
3 Photos
Union junior Noah Koyama flexes after winning the 4A 138-pound championship Saturday, Feb. 17, 2024, during the Mat Classic state wrestling tournament at Tacoma Dome.
Union junior Noah Koyama flexes after winning the 4A 138-pound championship Saturday, Feb. 17, 2024, during the Mat Classic state wrestling tournament at Tacoma Dome. (Taylor Balkom/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

As a talented and ambitious wrestler in middle school, Noah Koyama would drop by the occasional Union High School practice.

He would gaze at the plaques on the wrestling room’s wall.

Clint Coulter, Junior Godinho, Alex Berfanger, Ethan Rotondo, Danny Snediker and Kyle Brosius — each a state champion.

“I was around them all the time,” Koyama said. “I was little, looking up at them wondering if I can even achieve that.

“And then I did.”

Koyama became the seventh Union boy to win a state wrestling championship last month at Mat Classic XXXV. He beat Chiawana’s Daeton Johnson, himself a reigning state champion, by scoring a takedown in the final seconds of the 138-pound title match to win 4-2.

That capped Koyama’s dominant junior year in which he lost just one match.

For his accomplishments, Koyama is The Columbian’s All-Region boys wrestler of the year.

That one loss, in the title match at the early-season Hammerhead Invitational, fired up Koyama’s focus. Having finished second in state as a sophomore and third as a freshman, he wasn’t going to be pleased with not standing atop the podium this season.

“The week after that tournament was a grinder,” Koyama said. “I really put in a lot of work that week because I was not happy with that loss.”

What followed was a series of wins at the biggest tournaments in the Northwest. That included the Pac Coast Championships, which drew teams from 78 high schools to the Clark County Fairgrounds, and the Gut Check tournament in Kent.

Koyama initially planned to cut weight for the bigger tournaments and wrestle at 132 pounds. However, he realized he had more endurance and explosiveness at his natural weight.

“It was nice to not have to worry about cutting weight,” Koyama said. “I just enjoyed the season and enjoyed wrestling. My body is not drained from cutting the night before. I had dinner the night before and breakfast that morning.”

The season culminated at Mat Classic, where Koyama entered the Tacoma Dome more confident than in previous years. That carried into the championship match, in part because he had beaten Johnson in the Gut Check finals.

“Last season, I feel like the biggest reason I lost in the finals at state was because I was so nervous,” Koyama said. “I was just trying to keep my nerves under control, stay calm and trust in my abilities.”

After two scoreless periods, Koyama took a 2-1 lead with a takedown with 1 minute, 16 seconds remaining. He tried to control his opponent to the end, but Johnson tied the match by escaping with 10 seconds left.

Koyama didn’t waver. He shot right back at Johnson, scoring the decisive takedown with less than five seconds remaining.

After receiving his medal, Koyama remembers wrestlers he saw win state championships years ago congratulating him, as if welcoming him to their club.

Among them was Junior Godinho, a 2014 state champ who is now on the Union coaching staff led by his father, John Godinho.

“We have a really great bond and I think he was a massive help in getting me to where I am now,” Koyama said of the younger Godinho. “He puts a beating on me pretty hard in practice. That always makes you better.”

Now Koyama can count himself among Union’s state champions. But he would like to add a further distinction next year — two-time state champion.

“I’m honestly going to treat it the same,” Koyama said. “Every tournament I’m coming in confident. All the preparation, everything is just going to be the same.”

All-Region Boys Wrestling

Wrestler of the Year — Noah Koyama, Union

The rest of the All-Region team

Skylar Ammons, Castle Rock: The senior completed an undefeated season with a Class 1A state championship at 106 pounds.

Ayden Denbo, Mountain View: The senior was Class 3A state runner up at 215 pounds, regional and Clark County champion.

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Jonas DesRochers, Skyview: The freshman won the Class 4A state title at 113 pounds, losing just twice this season.

Mason DesRochers, Skyview: The freshman won the Class 4A state title at 120 pounds, regional and Clark County champion.

Mason Frei, Prairie: The senior finished state runner-up at Class 3A 175 pounds, regional and Hammerhead champ.

Tennyson Kurtz, Columbia River: The senior placed third in state at Class 2A 157 pounds, regional and Clark County champ.

Jackson Lougen, Camas: The senior finished state runner-up at Class 4A 190 pounds, regional and Clark County champ.

Armando Nicacio, Union: The senior finished state runner-up at Class 4A 165 pounds, Clark County champ and regional runner-up.

Owen Pritchard, Skyview: The senior won the Class 4A state title at 126 pounds, undefeated aside from two medical forfeits.

JJ Schoenlein, Skyview: The junior won his second state title by capturing the Class 4A crown at 175 pounds.

Cooper Williams, Castle Rock: The sophomore won the Class 1A state title at 120 pounds, winning his last seven tournaments.

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