TACOMA -- For a moment Friday evening, the Tacoma Dome seemed firmly in the grasp of the Tri-Cities.
The corner of Mat Classic XXIV hosting the 3A state tournament, anyway.
Four mats edged against each other, and on all four were familiar faces were battling for state honors.
On one, Southridge's Kevin Del-Angel was making quick work of a No. 1 seed at 170 pounds -- a 34-second pin in which the other kid shot in on Del-Angel's legs, but made the mistake of shouldering up against his body and putting his head in Del-Angel's wheelhouse for quick trip to his back.
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Del-Angel, who won his earlier match with a third-period pin, was glad to get this one over quickly -- "prevents injuries," he said -- as well as secure his first state medal with a berth in the semifinals.
Another mat saw Pasco's Lonnie Hurley rip through a 160-pound consolation match with a first-period pin. Unfortuantely for the Bulldogs senior, he lost 9-6 in his next match and failed to reach the second day.
Kamiakin's Sisto Santana Pina was taking care of business on his mat, winning a close 4-2 decision to reach the semis at 170.
"I feel really accomplished right now," said Pina, who placed third last season as a sophomore despite failing to reach the semifinals. "It's something I wanted to do this year, something I had to do to reach my goal -- be a state champion."
But the match with the most drama belonged to Southridge 160-pound senior Connor Rosane, who trailed by a point before getting a takedown inside of five seconds for a 4-3 victory.
"I was just trying to set up one more shot, set up something and hope it works out," said Rosane, who locked his first state medal as well as a berth in the semis. "In my case, it did."
As time ran out, the official rewarded Rosane's opponent an escape that would have tied the score, but took it away after a discussion with both coaches and other officials.
But it didn't end there for the Tri-Cities.
As Rosane's match was sorting itself out, Hanford's Joe Traverso was taking an injury default nearby, his opponent injured shooting in early in the 170 consolation match.
Soon after, two more Hanford wrestlers were side-by-side at 182 pounds: Casey Enderlin, rocking a kilt as well as his opponents, put a 10-0 hurt on Bainbridge Island's Weber Coryell; teammate Ben Tynan, within 4-1 in the third, was pinned with 17 seconds left in the match.
All in all, an impressive 20-minute run for local wrestling. But it was just part of an impressive day for the Mid-Columbia.
Hanford, Kamiakin, Pasco and Southridge all pushed wrestlers into the 3A semifinals, and all will go home with multiple placers.
Both Traverso and Tynan capped the night with consolation wins to secure berths in today's placing matches, with a shot at third through eighth place.
Junior Harley Kolp will join Pina as two-time state placers for Kamiakin, bouncing back from a first-round loss with back-to-back wins at 132.
Pasco has a pair of placers in freshman Timmy Martinez at 120 and senior Deondre Sparks at 138.
Sparks was in control of both his matches, a 7-3 win in the morning and a 9-3 victory over No. 1 seed Aaron Blaine of Hudson's Bay in the quarters.
Sparks got things going against Blaine early, usuing his incredible reach to pick and ankle even though the two wrestlers were no where near locking up. The look on Blaine's face had a "What do I do against that?" quality.
"That's usually the face they make," Sparks said. "They've never seen it."
He went on to open a 5-0 lead and finished with an impressive four takedowns while giving up just three escapes.
It's the senior's first time wrestling in the Tacoma Dome, but it's not his first state experience. After wrestling for Pasco as a freshman, his family moved to Portland, and he wrestled but didn't place for Grants.
He's not satisfied on just placing as a senior.
"Now's the time I got to take it to the next level," he said. "I want to get to the state finals and qualify for senior nationals."
Martinez solidified his state medal with a 5-2 win over Kamiakin sophomore Junior Pina.
Sunnyside also had a strong run, despite getting just one of six wrestlers into the semis (Jesse Barajas at 106), a low number for the Grizzlies.
Still, five of those six will place, and longtime coach George Paulus was named 3A coach of the year.
In the 4A ranks, none of Chiawana's six wrestlers reached the semifinals. However, four will bring home state medals: junior Chris Montelongo at 106, senior Mark McKeown at 126, junior Austen Silvers at 170 and senior C.J. Edrington at 182.
Richland senior Josh Andrew bounced back from a 5-4 loss in the 120 quarters with a 15-4 rout in the "winner places, loser goes home" bout to secure his second state medal.
Moses Lake has three of its five in the semifinals: Fernando Leyva at 106, Beau Gleed at 120 and two-time state runner-up Nico Moreno at 152.
Leyva cost his coaches a few gray hairs, getting a reversal almost as the clock was hitting zeros to win his quarterfinal.
Othello had a mixed day on the 2A mats, with only two-time state runner-up Joey Gomez at 220 reaching the semifinals among their nine wrestlers.
Additionally, brothers Anthony and Isaiah Barrera had to face each other in a loser-out, winner-places match. Anthony, the junior, took an injury default from younger brother Isaiah, a sophomore. It was the fifth time the two brothers have been scheduled to meet in a tournament this season -- Isaiah has defaulted all five times, though this one ended his season.
Kiona-Benton has two wrestlers in the semifinals: Matt McCallum at 138 and Cruz DelAngel at 170, who improved to 34-0 this season with a pin and 9-0 win.
McCallum breezed into the semifinals with 13-3 and 9-2 wins, along the way securing a fourth state medal.
"It feels good," he said. "Ever since I placed my freshman year, this is what I wanted to do. But nothing less than a state title -- I'm not here ust to get another medal."
McCallum led just 2-1 in the second period before getting two takedowns in the period and one more in the third.
Royal had a strong first day, moving four of its seven into the semifinals, including Danny Barajas on the other side of McCallum at 132. Like his Ki-Be rival, Barajas will be a four-time placer, including a state title last season.
Joining Barajas in the semis are Royal teammates Brian Gallardo at 106, Alex Myrick at 152 and Damien DelaRosa at 182. DelaRosa squeezed out an overtime win in his quarterfinal to advance.
Warden is well on its way to defending its title in the 2B/1B tourney, opening a 27.5-point lead over Reardan, 112-84.5, with the rest of the field another 22 points back.
The Cougars have six wrestlers in the finals -- Javier Tapia (120), JP Martinez (126), Ernesto Orozco (138), Hector Camacho (170), Jerry Reyes (182), Matthew DeLeon (285) -- and 10 of their 12 alive to medal.
Four of the five finalists are seniors -- Reyes is a freshman. Tapia and Martinez are returning state champs, and this will be Martinez's fourth time wrestling in the state finals.
Seven area girls are in the semifinals: Warden's Deianeira Caudle and Kiona-Benton's Britnee Cook at 100, Mabton's Mary Ellen Gutierrez at 112; Othello's Tatum sparks at 124; Sunnyside's Abby Elizondo at 130; Othello's Allesha Reyes at 137; and Connell's Felisha Orozco at 170.
w Kevin Anthony: 582-1403; email@example.com