Pinning down a title
February 18, 2014
By Neil Pierson
Issaquah, Skyline grapplers heading for Mat Classic
Senior 113-pounder Torre Eaton may be the most promising chance for Issaquah High School’s wrestling medal hopes.
Eaton had an outstanding regular season, and won the regional crown by eking out a 2-0 decision over Evergreen (Vancouver) sophomore Isaiah Av at the Class 4A Region 2 championships, held Feb. 15 at Inglemoor High School in Kenmore.
The match that clinched Eaton’s third consecutive state appearance was impressive — a pin of Evergreen’s Andrew Lonero that took only 28 seconds.
“I just did my thing and the result was there,” Eaton said.
Meanwhile, Skyline High School Joseph DeMatteo is no stranger to the pressures of the Mat Classic, and he’ll be one of the most experienced wrestlers on the Tacoma Dome floor this weekend.
DeMatteo, a senior, clinched his fourth bid to the state wrestling tournament by finishing third in the 145-pound class at the regional event.
DeMatteo will be looking to finish in the top eight and win his first medal, after previously coming up short at 126, 113 and 103 pounds. Being a state veteran should help him.
“I think I really just have a mental edge on the competition because I’ve been there four times, so I know what mindset I need to be in,” DeMatteo said. “New guys kind of get nervous when they’re at state, and it’s just a lot to take in with 24 mats at the T-Dome.”
DeMatteo will face Kentwood senior Dalton Meyers on Feb. 21 in a first-round state match.
He had to work hard to become a four-time state qualifier. In his regional opener, he trailed Union’s Judah Reynolds 2-1 late in the third period. But he used a Whizzer, a common defensive tactic, and a half-Nelson to flip Reynolds onto his back for a near fall and a 4-2 win.
DeMatteo lost 12-2 to Woodinville’s Dalton Mann in the semifinals, but clinched his state berth by pinning Battle Ground’s Taylor Stewart. That earned him a rematch with Reynolds, and DeMatteo won 6-1 to claim third place.
Skyline scored 74 points to finish eighth out of 17 teams at regionals. The Spartans qualified five wrestlers for Mat Classic XXVI.
Their other top-four regional placers included freshman Zach Froeber (second, 106 pounds); junior Nathan Swanson (third, 120); senior Tristan Steciw (third, 132); and sophomore Bo Longmore (fourth, 170).
Swanson will make his second trip to the Mat Classic after an 0-2 finish as a sophomore 106-pounder. He also believes prior experience should bode well.
“It helps a lot to not get blown away once you get there,” he said. “It’s just so unbelievable how many people are there, how many mats are there. I think the second time I’ll do a lot better, know what it feels like.”
Swanson faced a win-or-go-home regional match with Newport’s Diego Dwyer. Swanson built a 9-5 lead in the third period, and then punctuated it with a pin in the dying seconds.
“He kept throwing me,” Swanson said, “but I stayed calm, caught him in the legs and I ended up sticking him.”
At state, Swanson will open with Moses Lake sophomore Clayton Clark.
Meanwhile, Issaquah will look to build upon its regional finish. The Eagles scored 69 points, claimed ninth place, and qualified four individuals for state.
Eaton will face Yelm’s Thomas Munoz to open the state tourney, and he’ll be searching for his first Mat Classic medal in three tries.
“My goal this year so far was to be undefeated in the regular season — I was undefeated in the regular season,” he said. “Hopefully, by the end of state, I’m undefeated, too. I’m ready to go get first place. I’m excited.”
Issaquah’s Colby Starren finished third at 160 pounds, while Hunter Hurley and Louden Ivey finished fourth at 152 and 138, respectively.
Starren won three straight matches after losing his opener to Battle Ground’s Justin Smalley. He needed only 40 seconds to pin Smalley in the rematch for third and fourth places.
In first-round action at state, Starren will face Lewis and Clark senior Tyler Taylor.
Hurley claimed his state bid with an action-packed decision over Skyview’s Cameron Hutchinson. Hurley got an escape in the final seconds and won, 15-14. He’ll take on Bethel junior Logan Bearss to open state.
Ivey pinned Union’s Elijah Watson to move on, and he drew Central Valley junior Blake Beard, a defending state champion at 126, for his Mat Classic opener.