Liberty, Skyline wrestlers take second at state

February 23, 2010

By Tim Pfarr

Liberty’s Hamilton Noel faces off against Olympic’s Brandon Yeik in the 3A 145-pound finals. Noel lost the match 13-7 and took second place in the weight class. By Tim Pfarr

Wrestlers Hamilton Noel, of Liberty High School, and Alexis Willcher, of Skyline High School, took second place in their divisions at the Mat Classic XXII state tournament Feb. 20 in the Tacoma Dome.

Noel, a sophomore, and Willcher, a senior, both wrestled in the 145-pound weight class; Noel competed in the 3A tournament while Willcher competed in the girls tournament.

This is Willcher’s third year in a row taking second place in her weight class in the girls tournament. Noel qualified last year, but did not place in the top eight.

“I’m really happy with it,” Noel said about his finish. “It was a great year.”

In his final match, Noel faced Brandon Yeik, a senior from Olympic High School. Yeik won the state championship two years ago and took second place in the tournament last year. Yeik defeated Noel 13-7 in the match.

“I knew he was going to be tough,” Noel said.

Liberty head coach Manny Brown said Noel had his work cut out for him to get to the championships.

“It was a very tough weight class,” Brown said. “None of them were easy matches.”

Noel reached the finals with a 5-3 overtime decision of Adam Raemer, of Port Angeles. The Liberty wrestler pinned Travis Addy, of Prairie, in the first round and defeated Derek VanWyhe, of Glacier Park, 9-4 in the quarterfinals.

Willcher faced Alysia Pohren, of Sedro-Woolley High School, in her championship match, being pinned seconds before the end of the match. Pohren pinned every opponent she faced in the tournament.

“I came in here not too anxious, and what was going to happen was going to happen,” Willcher said.

Willcher reached the finals with a 10-5 decision of Garfield’s Punner Abdolhosseini in the semifinals. In the first round, Willcher pinned Maya Howard, of Foss. In the quarterfinals, Willcher defeated Mikaela Kilcup, of White River, 6-3.

Willcher gave much credit for her season to the Skyline coaching staff for its help and guidance.

“These guys are awesome,” she said.

Skyline’s Anthony DeMatteo and Danny Christianson also finished well in the tournament. DeMatteo took fourth in the 215-pound weight class and Christianson was eighth in the 152-pound weight class.

DeMatteo, an all-state linebacker on Skyline’s 4A state championship football team last fall, was pinned in the match for third place after he re-aggravated an injury on his right shoulder, which he said was a disappointing way to end the year.

The Skyline senior opened the tournament promisingly, pinning Brandon Johnson, of Lake Stevens, in the first round and defeating David Stenger, of Wilson, 13-1 in the quarterfinals. However, DeMatteo’s hopes of reaching the title round ended when he was pinned by eventual state champion Brian Chamberlain, of Moses Lake, in the semifinals.

Christianson said he was pleased with his finish.

“It feels really good, because my goal at the start of the year was to get top eight,” Christianson said. “I would have liked to win that last one, but you can’t always do that.”

Had Christianson won his final match, he would have taken seventh place in his weight class.

Although Skyline had just two wrestlers in the state tournament, the Spartans were actually the highest placing team from the 4A KingCo Conference. The Spartans were 25th with 18 points. They finished a point ahead of Lake Washington.

Liberty wrestlers Chris Harlin and Jay Chakravarty also placed in the 3A tournament. Harlin finished sixth in the 215-pound weight class and Chakravarty was eighth in the 160-pound weight class.

Harlin lost his first match of the tournament and dropped to the consolation bracket, where he won four of his final five matches to take sixth place. One of his victories was a 10-6 decision of Mercer Island’s TJ Blackburn, the 3A KingCo Conference champion.

“Losing your first battle and coming through the back door is a lot of work,” he said.

He said some of his opponents were a bit bigger and stronger, which made the tournament particularly tough.

Chakravarty, a junior, said he was happy to place at state this year, and he said he hopes to finish in the top four next year in his weight class.

Furthermore, Liberty’s Dan Velasquez, Wright Noel and Brandon Studer all qualified for the state tournament, but none made it to the final rounds. Issaquah High School’s Jordan Tanner also qualified for the tournament, but didn’t make it to the final round.

Liberty finished 16th as a team in the 3A tournament with 39 points.

“We were really glad that we were able to place three guys out of six,” Brown said, adding that he was hoping the team would finish in the top 10.

“We’ll be back,” he said.

Skyline finished 25th in the 4A tournament with 18 points and 31st in the girls tournament with 20 points.

Tim Pfarr: 392-6434, ext. 239, or newcas@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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