Liberty wrestler Hamilton Noel finishes sixth at Mat Classic

February 21, 2012

By Sebastian Moraga

When the last chapter closed on the 2012 Mat Classic, all it said about Hamilton Noel’s performance was that the Liberty High School senior finished sixth in the 160-pound division at the Class 3A Tournament.

Not a word about his heart, of which he displayed plenty in the Tacoma Dome. Not a comma about his tears, of which there were also a few. Not a period about how he stepped on the mat weakened by an unspecified ailment that made him look almost nothing like the Noel that dominated at Regionals.

At the end, the fact that Mercer Island’s Blake Johnson, the wrestler who won 160-pound state title was the same Noel defeated at the regional finals seven days earlier, seemed to do nothing but add insult to an already injured warrior.

In the first round, Noel defeated Enumclaw’s Ryan Anderson, 9-5. In the second round, Decatur’s Nick Karis stunned onlookers by beating Noel, 11-4.

At that point, fans were already talking that Noel did not look like himself. To the senior’s credit, he strung together two more wins, against Pasco’s Lonnie Hurley (9-6) and Sunnyside’s Sam Romero. (9-5).

Then, Bonney Lake’s Chili Sabin stopped Noel with a pin late in the third round.

Despite the devastating pin, which knocked Noel out of contention for third place, Noel turned the fifth-place match into a battle of wills.

Late in the match, Noel managed to turn a 3-1 deficit with 76 seconds left into a 3-3 tie on a takedown. The effort took the last reserve of gas from Noel’s tank, who yielded two more points and lost 5-3.

Then the tears, the hugs from the coaches and an afternoon of misty-eyed waiting until the awards ceremonies, where Noel would receive his sixth-place prize and say goodbye to high-school wrestling.

The brackets for the Mat Classic 2012 are full, and at 160 pounds, Noel’s name stands next to a ‘6’. Those who watched him this weekend know no number high enough exists for competitors who wrestle two opponents at once.

Two Eagles place

Two members of the Issaquah wrestling team placed in the Class 4A state tournament.

Max Tickman placed fifth in the 126-pound division when he decisioned Killian Page, of Marysville-Pilchuck, 14-10. Tickman avenged a first-round loss in the process when Page won 14-8. In the consolation bracket, Tickman fought back to reach the medal round. He defeated Jacob Sands, of Roosevelt, 10-3; topped Dalton Meyers, of Kentwood, 9-7; and edged Mark McKeown, of Chiawana, 5-4. His bid for third place ended with a 14-3 loss to Colton Orrino, of Central Valley. With that loss, the Eagle senior dropped into the match for fifth and sixth place.

Issaquah junior Jonathan Norris capped his season by placing sixth in the 285-pound division. He began competition by getting pinned by Central Kitsap’s Kyle Lanoue. However, Norris responded with three quick pins in the consolation bracket. He pinned Ian Overton, of Heritage, in 37 seconds. Then pinned Larkin Williams, of Auburn Riverside, in 23 seconds before pinning Damen Medeinos, of South Kitsap, is just 11 seconds. Norris’ string of victories came to an end as well as his bid for third place when he was pinned by Jessy Leifi, of Federal Way. In the match for fifth and sixth place, Cody Bocook, of Mead, defeated Norris, 11-5.

Almen Thorpe (132), Andrew Ramirez (170) and Matt Solusod (220) also competed in the state tournament for Issaquah but failed to place.

Issaquah finished 26th in the team standings.

Skyline’s Griffin Howlett (106), Joseph DeMatteo (113) and Tristan Steciw (120) competed at state but failed to place.

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