TACOMA — Cruz Del Angel once apologized to an opponent after winning by technical fall, according to Kiona-Benton wrestling coach Ben Hill.
“He doesn’t want other kids to even think they have a chance to beat him,” Hill said.
Del Angel didn’t have to apologize to anybody Saturday at the Tacoma Dome after winning his third consecutive Class 1A state championship.
All he had to do was enjoy the moment.
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“I’ve got them in the bag!” he said after beating Markus Goldbach of Freeman 17-2 to complete a third consecutive undefeated season and run his winning streak to 116 matches. “(Goldbach) was strong, but I went out wrestling the same way I grew up to wrestle.
“Now, I thank the Lord and move on to college.”
While Hill was watching Del Angel dismantle Goldbach, the Freeman coaches sat quietly, maybe even a bit dismayed at the ease of Del Angel’s win.
“We’ve had three three-time state champions (Garrett Knutsen, Ale De La Pena and Del Angel), and all three are the same way. They all had the desire,” Hill said. “They’d go to the state tournament, then go do freestyle. Once that’s done it’s back in the workout room to get ready for the wrestling season.”
Kiona-Benton finished with 66 points, good for eighth place behind Class 1A team champion Blaine. Warden took third with 92 points despite not having any of the Cougars’ 11 wrestlers reach the finals (not counting girls wrestling).
The Bears had three placers in addition to Del Angel: Seth Garcia (fourth at 120), Tanner Cook (eighth at 220) and Cody Zyph (fourth at 285).
Roberto Orozco of Connell helped himself to a second consecutive state title at 145 pounds, recording an 11-2 major decision over Isias Jiminez of Quincy.
Orozco said the second time around is definitely more challenging, especially with everybody gunning for you.
“It’s tougher. Everybody wants to be a state champion, and to do that, you have to beat a state champion,” said Orozco, who became the Eagles’ third wrestler with multiple state championships along with Jay Jenks (2, 1974-75) and Bryce Hall (3, 1980-82).
“Roberto is the type of guy you don’t worry about having a good match or a bad match,” Connell coach Eric Freeman said. “He’s consistent all the time, and he handled everybody in this tournament. He never got put on his back, and he never lost control.”
Connell finished with 33 points, taking 20th. Royal was 12th with 59 points, thanks in part to Kiki Chabolla’s runner-up finish at 113 pounds. Carlos Hernandez also chipped in a third-place finish at 120 pounds.
Othello had two individual champions — Isaiah Barrera at 106 and Bubba Ruiz at 285 — to boost the Huskies to a fourth place finish in the Class 2A team race with 97 points, 12 behind team champion Deer Park (109).
Ruiz won in dramatic fashion, beating the same wrestler who topped him in last year’s heavyweight final. This time, however, Ruiz got the better of Monike Sarte of Fife, earning a 4-2 decision after a second-period reversal and two-point near fall erased a 2-0 deficit.
“This is the best feeling in the world. I wanted to be a state champ since I was five years old,” said Ruiz, who was cheered on by a large contingent of Huskies fans who made the three-hour trip west.
“Bubba’s a popular person in our community. There were a lot of people cheering for him,” Othello coach Ruben Martinez said.
One of them was the Huskies’ 106-pound champion Isaiah Barrera, who beat Carlos Lopez 5-4 in the first match of the day.
“We always said that we would start and finish every tournament with a win,” Ruiz said.
Grandview had a remarkable two days. Despite bringing only three wrestlers to Mat Classic, the Greyhounds put all three in the finals, with two — Fiden Medina at 113 and Diego Castaneda at 132 — winning their first state titles.
Grandview finished eighth with 67 points.
The Warden girls repeated as girls champs with 104.5 points, topping second-place Puyallup (88 points). The Cougars brought eight wrestlers and four of them scored, including repeat state champion Deianera Caudle at 100 pounds.
Caudle beat teammate Levi Guerra 6-0 in the final.
Grandview placed sixth with 55 points, getting a pair of state champs in Marizza Birrueta (106) and Desiree Zavala (130).
Richland’s Tamika Pierce placed for the second straight year, taking third. She was eighth in 2012. Chiawana senior Sydney Virgen took fourth to help the Riverhawks pile up 25 points, good for 21st place.
Richland took 32nd with 18 points.