Sequim’s Isaiah Cowan, left, pictured here in a match against Port Townsend on Jan. 23, will wrestle at MatClassic this week in Tacoma after earning his region’s fourth seed to the state prep final tourney of the 2019-2020 season. Sequim Gazette file photo by Michael Dashiell

Sequim’s Isaiah Cowan, left, pictured here in a match against Port Townsend on Jan. 23, will wrestle at MatClassic this week in Tacoma after earning his region’s fourth seed to the state prep final tourney of the 2019-2020 season. Sequim Gazette file photo by Michael Dashiell

Wrestling: SHS’s Cowan snags berth to MatClassic prep finals

First-year wrestler Isaiah Cowan is headed to MatClassic — Washington state’s prep wrestling finals — after racking up two wins in four matches in the 182-pound weight bracket at a regional tournament at Orting High School on Feb. 15.

“I don’t know if I thought I’d would get through to sub-regionals, to be honest,” Cowan said. “I know I was going to do my best.”

Cowan, a junior, opened with a 4-3 decision over Eatonville’s Mason Vasquez. In championship bracket semifinals, Jason Kibe of Port Angeles, last week’s sub-regional champ, topped Cowan 3-1.

Needing a win in the consolation semis to lock up a state berth, Cowan found himself matched up with Jassiah Smith of North Kitsap, whom he beat 5-4 at sub-districts a week before. Cowan edged Smith 2-1.

“All of my regional matches were really close — they were very tactical, especially in the last 10 seconds of both my wins,” Cowan said.

In the consolation finals, NK’s Cache Holmes — who handed Cowan his only loss at sub-districts a week ago — topped the Sequim wrestler 4-2 to determine third and fourth place.

“What makes (Isaiah) so difficult is his ability to defend anything that comes at him,” Sequim head coach Chad Cate said. “He’s there to patiently parry everything they throw at (him).”

Those close matches at regionals, Cate said, exemplifies the wrestler Cowan is now: strong, patient, explosive and in the end, often the winner.

“(His was) a three-part season: the first was a JV wrestler that was getting pushed around at first,” Cate said. “Second he was just aggressive; it was pin or be pinned. Now he’s transitioned into technical wrestler. He outright wears down his opponents.

“It’s stressful for me but to watch him, he just has a mat sense that takes a long time for other wrestlers to develop.”

The 2020 MatClassic is set for Feb. 21-22 at the Tacoma Dome in Tacoma, and will feature bouts in six classifications (girls, 1B/2B, 1A, 2A, 3A and 4A) featuring grapplers from across the state.

Cowan opens against Gaje Caro of West Valley-Spokane in the opening round of the 182-pound weight classification. Caro placed fifth at 160 pounds. at last year’s MatClassic tourney.

The Sequim wrestler said he doesn’t have a specific goal but to “go as hard as I can.”

I’m definitely nervous, but it should be a lot of fun.”

Cate added, “He’s not in the culture of wrestling — it’s still such a blur to him.”

The winner advances to the weight bracket quarterfinals to wrestle the winner of the Sebastian Hanna (Sedro-Woolley)/Matthew Weinert (Cedarcrest) match while the losing wrestlers of those two matches meet each other to stay alive in the double-elimination tourney.

Cate said his advice for Cowan is simple when approaching a big meet like MatClassic: Don’t take any of it too seriously and don’t change the low-key attitude.

“If anything changes, he’s going to go into it different,” Cate said. “Big match or not a big match, he goes at it the same.”

As for any kind of strategy, Cate said Cowan has found his own route to success and they won’t try to mess with it too much.

“He has his own way of wrestling,” Cate said. “I have to set my way aside and enhance what he does naturally.”

See wiaa.com/subcontent.aspx?SecID=1169 for MatClassic brackets, fan links and more.

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