The Kamiakin Braves took a contingent of 11 wrestlers to the 30th annual Mat Classic, and had high hopes of a first-place trophy.
The Braves settled for third in the team race, but crowned two champions along the way.
Austin Almaguer started the parade of champions, posting a 6-1 decision over Clayton Gilliam of North Central in the 132-pound title match.
“It’s a great thing,” said Almaguer, who won Kamiakin’s first state title since Riley Gurr (113) in 2016. “This morning I wasn’t looking ahead. I was taking it one match at a time. I had my game plan, wrestled my match and ended up winning.”
Almaguer pinned Aria Azrei of Meadowdale in 4:57 in the semifinals to advance.
In the finals, Almaguer took Gilliam down in the first and second periods for a 4-0 lead heading into the third. With about 15 seconds left in the match, Almaguer was flagged for stalling and Gilliam was awarded a point.
“I was winning by four, I was doing what I had to do,” Almaguer said. “After the stalling call, I took him down again with about 5 seconds left.”
A junior, Almaguer is a three-time state placer, taking third as a freshman at 106 and third last year at 120.
Almaguer, who will turn 17 on Wednesday, said there are no grand plans to celebrate.
“We’ll just end up eating pizza and hanging out as a team when we can actually eat,” he said.
At 170 pounds, Jacob Olson took on Alan Badley of O’Dea in the finals. Badley was 47-0 coming into the match, and had two pins and a major decision to his credit.
Olson, who had pinned his first three opponents, did the same to Badley, needing just 39 seconds to hand Badley his first loss.
“I caught him in a head-and-arm,” Olson said of his favorite move. “A lot of times, guys do a lot of research on what moves you do, but it’s hard to stay away from my head-and-arm because I throw a lefty head-and-arm, and most guys go right.”
A junior, Olson was making his first trip to state. His pin bumped the Braves up into the third place.
“It’s pretty cool,” Olson said. “I knew that match would put us in third. I just went out there and wrestled.”
Sione Halo, who was third last year at 160, dropped to 152 this season and reached the championship match with a 10-3 semifinal win over John Bittinger of Gig Harbor.
In the finals, Halo ran into Mt. Spokane’s Jake Howerton, who eked out a 3-2 win over Halo for the gold medal.
Emilio Ramos looked to win the first state title for Kennewick since Josh Williams (4A, 103) won in 2000, but Josh Walker of Bethel had other plans.
Walker earned a 5-1 decision over Ramos at 160 pounds.
Ramos beat Josh Johnson of North Central 3-2 in the semifinals to advance.
Ramos is the only four-time state placer for the Lions. He was fifth at 152 as a junior, sixth at 138 as a sophomore, and was sixth as a freshman at 126.
“He has always produced for us,” Kennewick coach Dwane Sitler said. “Wrestling is a dedication for him and his family. It was a big group effort, from his brothers coming in to wrestle with him, to him doing the little stuff to get over the hump and into the finals. He made it happen for himself. We are proud of him.”
Kamiakin’s Joey Chavez, who was second at regionals last week, lost his semifinal match Saturday morning but rebounded to finish third, beating Nolan Casey of Peninsula 7-5.
Chavez, who broke his hand in the semifinals, taped it up and continued on his way.
At 113 pounds, Kamiakin’s Xavier Zavala beat teammate Guillermo Ramirez 13-0 in the seventh-place match.
At 220 pounds, Luke Eskelsen, who was fifth at 195 last year, finished seventh for the Braves, pinning Mid-Columbia Conference foe Atsamaz Pliev of Southridge in 57 seconds.
Southridge had a school record eight wrestlers place, starting with Mikael Failor, who finished third at 160 pounds. Failor lost his second match of the tournament Friday, then fought his way through the consolation bracket, finishing with an 8-6 decision over Riley Van Scoy of Stanwood.
Gio Penaloza finished fourth, dropping his final match to Grayson Lecompte of Edmonds-Woodway, 3-0.
At 138 pounds, Breyden Baratone finished sixth as Isaiah Galindo of Marysville Pilchuck pinned him in 4:29.
Steven Saltz, who did not make it to state last year, reached the 152-pound semifinals, but was pinned by Jake Howerton of Mt. Spokane in 3:03.
Saltz rallied back to place sixth for the Suns, dropping a 16-7 match to John Bittinger of Gig Harbor.
Second-year wrestler Eric Stayrook also picked up a state medal for the Suns, placing sixth at 195 pounds. He was pinned in 4:12 by Falemalama Weggen of Spanaway in the placing match.
Stayrook reached the semifinals, where he was pinned by JJ Dixon of Lincoln in 1:35.
The Suns, who placed sixth in the team standings, also had Ozeas Cervantes place eighth at 195.
Southridge’s undersized heavyweight Yuriy Slutskiy reached the 285 semifinals Friday, but dropped a 9-3 match to Josiah Vaiolo of Wilson to drop into the consolation bracket.
Slutskiy pinned Dominick Mack of Squalicum in the fifth-place match in 2:45 for his first state medal.
Southridge: Gio Penaloza (126), 4th; Breyden Baratone (138), 6th; Steven Saltz (152), 6th; Mikael Failor (160), 3rd; Eric Stayrook (195), 6th; Atsamaz Pliev (220), 8th; Yuriy Slutskiy (285), 5th; Ozeas Cervantes (195), 8th.
Kamiakin: Austin Almaguer (132), 1st; Sione Halo (152), 2nd; Jacob Olson (170), 1st. Guillermo Ramirez (113), 8th; Xavier Zavala (113), 7th; Joey Chavez (145), 3rd; Luke Eskelsen (220), 7th.