Four Wolves earn MatClassic tickets

For Washington state prep wrestlers, there’s no other weekend like it.

More than a thousand grapplers, their coaches, families and fans are prepping for the 18th MatClassic Feb. 15-16, and four Sequim High athletes have their spots reserved after running the regional tourney gauntlet.

Sequim’s 189-pound Ethan Hinton and 215-pound Keller Batson-Hickok are top seeds heading to Tacoma while 135-pound Joe Hutchison is a second seed and 125-pound Taylor Gowdy is a third seed, advancing to state after finishing atop or near the top of their weight classes at Saturday’s West Central District Region II tournament at Tacoma’s Washington High School.

For the second consecutive week, Hinton advanced to the finals of his weight class and took first outright after Port Townsend’s Gatlin Hanna conceded an injury forfeit in the finals, conserving a bum knee.

Next weekend marks Hinton’s first appearance at state; he is 18-3 on the season and a good bet to finish on the medal stand.

Batson-Hickok improved to 13-4 this season after posting two pins and a decision over Tori Murphy of Foster to dominate the 215-pound weight class. Next weekend will be his first MatClassic appearance also.

Hutchison, a sparkplug at 135 pounds, cruised through to the regional tourney finals but got pinned by rival Neil Sell of Klahowya in the second round.

With the 2-1 regional mark, Hutchison improved to 30-8 on the season. Next Friday marks his second state tourney appearance.

Also advancing to his second MatClassic is Taylor Gowdy, who went 3-1 on the day and finished third overall, grabbing the 125-pound class’ final state berth. Gowdy pinned Steilacoom’s Ryan Herting in the consolation finals with 14 seconds to go in the second round.

With a chance to give Sequim five state wrestlers, Anthony Drabek came up two points shy, falling to Washington’s Clayton Hines. Down 5-2 with nearly no time remaining, Hines reversed Drabek and earned a near fall to edge the Sequim junior 6-5. Drabek, who qualified for state last season along with Gowdy and Hutchison, is a state tourney alternate after placing fourth.

First-year wrestler Alex Lamb (125 pounds) and Paden Sutterby (140) were 1-3 on the day and finished sixth.

Sequim’s Alex O’Donnell won a match in the 152-pound weight class before being eliminated from contention while heavyweight Thomas Gallagher was upset in each of his three matches. Sophomore Mike Bereiter was 0-2 at 160 pounds.

Sequim finished sixth among the 10 Olympic and Nisqually League teams, while Klahowya took the overall district crown.

Wolves’ coach Len Borchers said he expects the competition between the leagues to be as or more fierce in 2008-09.

“There are only a handful of seniors on any of these squads,” Borchers said, “so look for a real battle next year.”

MatClassic XVIII

What: Washington state prep wrestling championships

Where: Tacoma Dome, Tacoma

When: Feb. 15-16

Who: 1,120 of the top male wrestlers in five classifications and 14 weight classes; plus 72 female wrestlers in the state’s second all-girls tournament

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