Prep Wrestling

District wrestling tournaments begin

Betting lines are popular this time of year, known to most of the sporting world as Super Bowl Week.

But for a small but dedicated sect of the athletic community, it signals the first step in the march to the Tacoma Dome.

Mat Classic XXIII -- Roman numerals never go out of fashion -- is two weeks away yet, but district tournaments will take place this weekend all over the state, including the CBBN 3A tournament, which takes to the mat at 4 p.m. Friday at Pasco High.

But any would-be grappling bettors would do well to steer clear of the 145-pound bracket.

This one, folks, is a pick 'em.

Consider this: The likely No. 1 seed is Hanford senior Matt Owens based on his 6-0 record at the weight in league matches (the seeding meeting is set for Friday morning).

However, Owens twice lost to Southridge senior Will McNamara in tournaments.

For his part, McNamara has had a tough go against Pasco's Cody Rush, dropping two pins and a 16-0 technical fall to the Bulldogs senior.

Rush was headed to "favored" status via his pins and tech falls over McNamara and Sunnyside's David Vidales, but he lost a close 6-5 match to Owens in last week's regular-season finale.

Vidales, meanwhile, has pinned McNamara and lost 6-4 to Owens.

What does it all mean? Predicting the order of finish in this weight may come down to flipping a four-sided coin.

"I gotta pick Will," said Southridge coach Dave Brown. "But they're all so close, it's going to be fun to watch. But I gotta go with my guy if I have him."

And then Brown uttered the same words as his coaching colleagues: "Are we counting Romero or not?"

Romero is Sunnyside's Josh Romero, an added seasoning to spice up the already pungent mix.

Romero wrestled up at 160 most of the season, dropping down to 152 when he could get good matches like against Pasco's Lonnie Hurley.

But last week he cut down to 145 to take on West Valley's Preston Baich, which caught the rest of the league by surprise.

"I don't know why else he would cut down to wrestle Baich if not to go at 145," said Hanford coach Dom Duncan.

Baich also is a highly rated 145-pounder, though he has been in and out of West Valley's lineup all season and is expected to cut down to 140. WV coach Rob Lagerquist isn't talking until the seeding meeting.

For Owens' part, he says bring 'em on.

The tougher the weight, the bigger the achievement.

"I'd feel accomplished for sure," said Owens, who placed fourth at state last season. "But there's still regionals, and people would be coming after me knowing I was No. 1.

"Seeding doesn't matter. I beat the No. 1 seed at regionals when I placed fourth (at district). It doesn't matter much."

With regionals the following weekend back at Pasco, perhaps the biggest betting line to keep in mind is the over-under: 51/2.

That's the number of berths to regionals: five, plus a pigtail against the Greater Spokane League's No. 3 seed. However, only three move on from regionals to state, which means that between Owens, Rush, McNamara, Vidales and possibly Romero, at least two will be left out in the cold.

"We're going to have some quality kids that would be standing on the podium staying home," said Pasco coach Jay Covington. "I hate having to wrestle Spokane schools and put out quality kids to stay home."

So if you are trying to handicap the 145 bracket, a piece of advice from one coach: Worry less about the wrestler's name and who has beaten whom, and more about who is wrestling the best right now.

"It's going to be whoever comes to wrestle Friday and Saturday," Duncan said. "And more important than that, whoever comes to wrestle next Saturday (at regionals). That's the one where important berths are won."

-- Wrestling will start at 4 p.m. with two rounds of championship and one round of consolation matches completed Friday. Saturday's matches will start at 10 a.m., with championships slated for 4 p.m.

The 4A tournament runs a similar schedule at Moses Lake: 4 p.m. start on Friday, 10 a.m. Saturday. The top four advance to next week's regionals at Ferris High in Spokane, which will send three to state.

Othello will play host to the CWAC district Friday and Saturday, with the top seven going to regionals in Ellensburg against the top five from the Great Northern. The top four from regionals qualify for state.

The SCAC East sub-regional is Saturday at Kiona-Benton. The top four will move on to the SCAC regional in Connell, with four berths to state at stake.

The girls also begin their journey to state, with sub-regionals in Kiona-Benton and Wahluke on Saturday. The top four from each will meet at regionals in Connell, with the top three moving on to state.

The Eastern side of the state picked up an extra berth in the girls ranks thanks to a jump in participation, led by Sunnyside (24), Connell (9) and Kiona-Benton (8) at the Ki-Be sub-regional and Othello (19), Royal (14) and Warden (14) at the Wahluke sub-regional.

* Kevin Anthony: 509-582-1403; kanthony@tricityherald.com

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