Liberty’s Hamilton Noel wins regional crown

February 14, 2012

By Sebastian Moraga

Hamilton Noel (right), Liberty High School senior, holds Mercer Island's Blake Johnson during their 3A Region 1 160-pound title match. Noel won an exciting 3-2 contest. By Sebastian Moraga

Hamilton Noel said he knows what is at stake.

The Liberty High School senior qualified for the state wrestling tournament again by winning the Class 3A Region 1 160-pound title Feb. 11 at Skyline High School.

On Feb. 17 and 18 in the Tacoma Dome, Noel will go for his third, and last, shot at a state crown. He will graduate in June and said he knows time is running out.

In 2010, then-145-pounder Noel lost to Olympic High School’s Brandon Yeik, 13-7, in the state finals.

In 2011, 152-pounder Noel lost to Enumclaw’s Josh Musick, 6-2, in the state finals.

Now at 160, he punched his ticket for the Mat Classic by beating No.2 Mercer Island’s Blake Johnson, in a 3-2 thriller.

“Blake is ranked No. 2,” Noel said. “I’ll probably see him again this year.”

The win was the fourth in five tries for Noel against Johnson. Noel stepped onto the mat for the regional finals having won two of their three encounters this season.

“We know each other very well,” Noel said.

Noel is one of three wrestlers the Liberty squad will take to state this year. Luke Oman finished fifth at 220 pounds and Conner Small finished fifth at 138 pounds. They will both go as alternates.

Shane Small fell just shy of a spot as an alternate, finishing sixth at 152. He lost the match for fifth place to Ferndale’s Erik Engles, by a score of 1-0.

“My explosiveness was missing,” Shane Small said. “It was my fourth match of the day and I was tired.”

Shane praised his teammates’ effort despite their youth.

“We got one guy moving on for sure,” Shane Small said, referring to Noel. “We brought six to regionals and this year we had nine freshmen out of 14 weight classes. For such a young team, we made an impact.”

Liberty coach Manny Brown echoed Shane’s words.

“We came in with a good attitude,” Brown said. “We will use this year as a learning year. Now, we can take it up a level next year.”

The next two years will be good years for Liberty wrestlers, Brown predicted.

“I look forward to the fact I get all but two of them back,” he said.

One player who is not returning said he wants to leave by writing his name on the history books one line higher than last year. And the year before.

“Took second the last two seasons,” Noel said. “Gotta get it done.”

Liberty is also sending its first female wrestler to state. Joanna Moreira placed fourth at 137 pounds at Region 1 in Bellingham.

Eagles send six to state

Issaquah qualified six wrestlers to the state tournament at the Feb. 11 Class 4A Region 2 Tournament at Puyallup’s Rogers High School.

Qualifying for state were Max Tickman (126), Almen Thorpe (132), Joseph Tonnemaker (145), Andrew Ramirez (170), Matt Solusod (220) and Jonathan Norris (285).

Skyline will send Griffin Howlett (106), Joseph DeMatteo (113) and Tristan Steciw (120) to state.

Issaquah, which won the KingCo 4A tournament two weeks ago, had 73 points and tied for sixth with Bethel. Skyline was 10th with 44.5 points.

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