Prep Wrestling

Chiawana overcomes weather, not enough hotel rooms to win 1st state wrestling titles

Chiawana’s Darion Johnson celebrates winning the 120-pound title Saturday during Mat Classic XXXI at the Tacoma Dome.
Chiawana’s Darion Johnson celebrates winning the 120-pound title Saturday during Mat Classic XXXI at the Tacoma Dome. The Tacoma News Tribune

Chiawana coach Jack Anderson thought the wrestling part at the state tournament last weekend might be the easiest task for his team and coaches.

With the blizzard-like conditions the previous weekend causing the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) to cancel the regional tournaments statewide.

Then, it allowed everyone who qualified for those regionals to wrestle at state, essentially doubling the field from 16-wrestler brackets to 32.

That meant taking 17 Chiawana wrestlers over to Tacoma, sharing a bus with the Pasco High wrestlers.

“It was pretty cool,” said Anderson about sharing a bus with their cross-town rivals. “It was easy to wrestle. But just getting everyone on the bus was hard. We didn’t have enough hotel rooms, so we told some of the coaches they were going to have to give theirs up and they had to find rooms elsewhere. The bus wouldn’t fit into the parking lot. Wrestling in the tournament was the easy part.”

Still, Anderson gave it a 5 on a scale of 10 for being surprised in his Chiawana Riverhawks winning the school’s first-ever state team title, in addition getting the first three individual state champs in school history.

“I mean, I knew we could do it if we could get the kids healthy, and eligible, and make sure they were mentally healthy through the whole season,” said Anderson. “We’d be OK if they could show up and compete.”

They did, rolling up 227 points to easily take the team title.

Chiawana High Schools wrestling team were honored at halftime after winning state championship. Noelle Haro-Gomez Tri-City Herald

Freshman Darion Johnson, at 120 pounds, became Chiawana’s first-ever individual state champion.

Junior Tyson Stover, at 182 pounds, and freshman Isaiah Anderson at 195, soon followed with titles.

But Jack Anderson was proud of everyone.

“We brought 17 boys over there, and every kid won at least one match,” said Anderson. “I have never seen that happen. It was a whole team effort.”

Class 4A

Besides Chiawana, some other area schools did well: Sunnyside, which finished third at 143.5 points, and Pasco, which placed fifth with 124.

Darion Johnson pinned Mead’s Ryan Clark at 4:55 to win the 120-pound title.

“I have been watching Darion since he was a little kid,” said Anderson. “He’s special.”

At 182 pounds, Stover earned the title by beating Pasco’s Sione Halo 1-0 in an all-Pasco final.

“That was really cool to have an all-Pasco final,” said Anderson. “I’ve seen Tyson and Sione grow up together.”

In the next match, at 195 pounds, Riverhawks freshman Isaiah Anderson pinned Colby Stoller of Camas in 1:06 to claim another championship.

Even more interesting, Isaiah Anderson is Jack Anderson’s son, while Tyson Stover is assistant coach Shannon Stover’s son.

“Over the years, when he was a young kid, I made it a purpose to sneak him down on the mat when he was a little boy, so he could have that feeling of being on the floor,” said Jackson Anderson of Isaiah.

Chiawana Vaughn wrestle
Chiawana’s Robby Vaughn, top, wrestles Camas’ Tanner Craig during Mat Classic XXXI Saturday at the Tacoma Dome. At 138, Vaughn finished second. Joshua Bessex The Tacoma News Tribune

At 138, junior Robby Vaughn finished second, falling to Tanner Craig of Camas 7-5 in the final.

Vaughn beat a two-time state champion and another former state champ on the way to the finals in what was arguably the toughest bracket in the tournament.

Aidan Villarreal was also in a final for Chiawana at 145 pounds, and he finished second.

Jack Anderson said everybody takes a week off, and some of his wrestlers will go out for spring sports. But others will prepare for the freestyle season and Greco-Roman season.

“Some of those teams around here are some of the best in the nation,” Anderson said. “This is a group that is special.”

And many of them will be back in Tacoma next year.

The other Mid-Columbia title came from Sunnyside’s EJ Villanueva, who defeated Auburn Riverside’s Jaden Cassel 7-2 in the 113-pound final.

Sunnyside also got a second-place finish from Andrew Macias at 126, and third-place finishes from Fabian Ortega at 120 and Jose Campos at 132.

Besides Halo, Pasco scored points with a second-place finish from 285-pounder Davion Pruitt, and a third-place finish from Isaiah Gonzalez at 138. Hanford’s Jonathan Burt earned a second-place finish at 220 pounds.

Class 3A

The Tri-Cities had two state champions: Kamiakin’s Austin Almaguer at 132 pounds, and Southridge’s Mikael Failor at 160. Almaguer, who is headed to Campbell University to wrestler next year, defeated Mt. Spokane’s Ky Haney in a major decision (12-0) to win his second consecutive state title.

He placed third at state his freshman and sophomore years.

Almaguer’s finish, in addition to a second-place finish by Ben Hollenberg at 220, and third-place finishes by Jacob Olson at 195 and Xavier Zavala at 120, helped Kamiakin to a fifth-place finish in the team standings with 134.5 points.

Meanwhile, Failor defeated Isaac Casey of Peninsula 6-2 in the 160-pound final. That followed up pins by Failor in both his quarterfinal and semifinal matches on Saturday.

Failor’s teammate, Jevon Johnson, finished second at 182 pounds for the Suns. Mt. Spokane ran away with the team title with 235.5 points. Bethel was second with 154, while Yelm was third with 151.5 points.

Class 2A

Othello finished fourth in the team race with 165 points, many of those coming from Bernie Garza, Jr., and Isaiah Perez.

Garza beat White River’s Johnathan McBride 3-2 in a tiebreaker to win the 182-pound title.

Perez, a junior, defended his 2018 state title by pinning Sven Lukner of Sedro Woolley in 2:51.

It completed a perfect tournament for Perez, who pinned all five of his opponents. Arturo Solorio placed third at 138 pounds to give Othello some more points.

Prosser was led by Logan Candanoza, who placed third at 170 pounds. Toppenish ran away with the team title with 310 points.

Class 1A

Connell had two second-place finishers in Johnathan Magana at 113 pounds, and Jesus Ramos at 170.

Royal got a second-place finish by Dominic Martinez at 120, while Daniel Bonilla placed third at 145. Colville won the team title with 259 points.

Class 2B/1B Mabton freshman George Trujillo defeated Lake Roosevelt’s David Crowe 3-2 to win a state title at 132 pounds. Trujillo becomes Mabton’s first state champion since 1978.

Tonasket ran away with the team title with 348 points.


Sophomore Taylor Wilson successfully repeated as a state champion, pinning Toppenish’s Isabella Morales in 4:34 in the 100-pound championship match.

Wilson had little problem all weekend, scoring a pin, two technical falls, and a major decision in her other four matches. Include a third-place finish by teammate Grace Nelson at 190 pounds, and the Falcons finished the weekend in third in the team standings with 107 points.

Union took the team title with 135 points, while White River was second at 114. Sunnyside was fifth at 86.5 points.

Kiona-Benton’s Maloree Calzadillas was the other state champion from the Tri-Cities area, scoring a major decision of 17-8 over Sunnyside’s Lourdes Torres in the 155-pound final.

Calzadillas, a senior, preceded that finals win with four pins through the bracket.

Othello’s Emily Mendez finished second at 105 pounds, while Pasco’s Jazmine Mercado placed third at 110. Mercado, a junior, had to do things the hard way. After losing her second-round match, she won six consecutive consolation matches to place third.

Boys 4A swimming

Hanford senior Skyler Younkin, who has committed to swimming next year for Purdue University, finished his high school career off in style by winning the boys 4A 100 butterfly at the WIAA state championships in Federal Way.

Younkin’s time of 49.18 seconds was enough for All-American Consideration. He beat runnerup Patrick Keough of Curtis by .11 seconds for the win.

Younkin also finished second, losing to Keough, in the 200 freestyle with a time of 1.41.4. Keough beat Younkin by .37 seconds.

Younkin also was the first leg in the Falcons’ fourth-place 400 free relay team, which finished in 3:13.34, and also included Ryan Monrean, Jack Elliott, and anchor John Markillie.

The same foursome combined to finish fifth in the 200 medley relay, with a time of 1:38.23.

Jeff Morrow is former sports editor for the Tri-City Herald.