It took three tries for Will Bishop to get his hair color right for Mat Classic XXVI in the week before his final wrestling tournament of his high school career.
“The first time it was half blond and half black. The second time it was orange,” said the Hanford senior, who beat Evan Condon of Mercer Island 4-1 in the Class 3A 195-pound quarterfinals Friday at the Tacoma Dome. “I spent five hours in the bathroom just chilling, playing floppy bird.
“I got my high score, though.”
The hair, he explained, is a tradition. You go to state, you dye your hair.
A state championship would be a legacy.
“Last year I was giving it all. I fought hard but missed out on a state title,” Bishop said, referring to his fourth-place finish in 2013. “This is my third time here. This time, I expect a championship.”
Bishop will go up against Foster Wade of Stanwood at 11:10 a.m. today in the semifinals.
He’ll be joined in the semis by teammates Dallon Grinder and Jeff Weyand, a pair of heavyweights who will both earn their first state trophies today. The Falcons finished the day tied for 10th with 29 points.
“I figured all four of our guys had a shot at the semis. So far it’s been a pretty good day,” Hanford coach Dominic Duncan said. “Will’s a good athlete. When he moves, he’s a lot quicker than any other kid in the state. His athletic ability sets him apart from other 195-pounders.
“Both our heavyweights are pretty athletic, too.”
Cruz Del Angel of Kiona-Benton continued his pursuit of a third state championship at 182 pounds. The Bears senior pinned Gavin Castaneda of Forks in 1 minute, 7 seconds to begin the day and then easily dispatched Andrew King of Lakeside with a 20-4 technical fall.
He used every tool in the shed against King, including a nearside tilt, an armbar and a half-nelson, but the referee took issue with one particular hold. That only motivated the two-time champ even more.
“I used a head lever for a pin combination, and the kid started crying, so the ref dinged me for two points,” Del Angel said. “It pissed me off.”
Ki-Be will send two more wrestlers along to the semis — defending Class 1A state champ Cody Zyph in the heavyweight division, and Seth Garcia at 120 pounds.
Timmy Martinez of Pasco, the 2013 Class 4A state champion at 120 pounds, cruised through the 126-pound bracket, recording pins of Jordan Moore of Evergreen iand Brandon Forster of South Kitsap to earn a spot in today’s semis, where he’ll face Daniel Rice of Union at 10:20 a.m.
Bryce Overholt of Southridge recorded a big win over Drew Hatch of Marysville-Pilchuck, topping the two-time state placer 8-5 in the 170-pound quarterfinals to earn his second consecutive trophy finish. The Suns senior finished fifth at Mat Classic last season and now has a chance at his first-ever state title. He’ll face Bryson Pierce of North Central at 11 a.m. today.
Kamiakin junior Damien Gooldy also pulled off a nice upset of Oak Harbor’s Jeremy Vester in the quarters, pulling out a 10-7 decision to move on to his first semifinal.
Richland’s Pryce Seely improved to 33-5 with an injury default win over Inglemoor’s Andy Pham (by injury default) and a 9-2 decision over Rogers-Puyallup’s Troy Wilson at 138 pounds.
“My goal was to place high and wrestle hard. I want to lay it all on the line,” said Seely, who will face Tate LeClaire of Mead at 10:30 a.m. in the semis. “I know (LeClaire) ties up a lot and uses a fireman’s cradle.”
Bombers coach Scott Surplus, couldn’t be prouder of his scrappy senior.
“I’m just happy for him. Kids like that deserve it,” Surplus said. “He’s always listening and really focused. He works his butt off.”
Chiawana put two senior wrestlers into the semis — Blake Bishop at 152 pounds and Sydney Virgen in the 124-pound girls division.
Virgen recorded sound wins over Brianna Galvan of Steilacoom (8-4) and Heidi Chambers of Mt. Baker (5-0) to reach her first semi, where she’ll face Todd Beamer’s Arian Carpio, who won a state title at 112 pounds last season.
But her coaches don’t expect that to stop Virgen.
“When facing someone with a solid record, we teach them to rise to the challenge,” Riverhawks assistant Andrea Yamamoto said. “We train to win those epic battles. I don’t see any reason she can’t come out a winner.”
Tamika Pierce of Richland will also make her first trip to the semis after finishing eighth last season.
The Warden girls lead the team race with 54.5 points, 22.5 ahead of Centralia.
“Last year we won by 40. This year will be closer,” Warden girls coach Valerie Hernandez said, giving credit to her three senior wrestlers — Deianeira Caudle (100), Aneissa Gonzales (155) and Andrea Contreras (235) — all of whom qualified for today’s semis. “At the beginning it was hard to believe we’d be very competitive. (The seniors) were they key.”