Published February 20, 2010
Yelm in familiar place ... secondGAIL WOOD; Staff writer
TACOMA - This wasn't how Gaylord Strand scripted it. The Yelm coach hoped for a sizeable first-day lead at the 3A Mat Classic state wrestling championship against nemesis Enumclaw. Instead, Yelm, a state runner-up to Enumclaw the past two years, will need a comeback today in the Tacoma Dome to win its first state wrestling title. Enumclaw leads after the first day with 71 points. Yelm is in second with 62.5. “We had some letdowns, but it’s not over,” Strand said. “We’re not where I’d like to be.” Yelm’s state title hopes suffered a setback when Marcus Crone, the Tornados’ lone returning champ, was upset in the quarterfinals. But Yelm advanced four to today’s semifinals. Yelm’s Dylan Harris (103), Dylan Hyder (119), James Bradley (130) and Caleb Thornhill (135) are also in the semis. Strand was hoping to advance seven. “It’s not over,” Strand said. “We have some chances to pick up some points through the back door. Tomorrow is a whole new day.” In the first round early Friday, Yelm won seven of 11 matches and was in second place with 24.5 points, trailing Enumclaw by 6.5 points. But Enumclaw, which also qualified 11 to state, advanced only three to the semis. “We’ll see what happens tomorrow,” Strand said. “It’s not over. We’ve got to start pinning kids.” In 2A, River Ridge’s Marques Ford is two wins from repeating as a state champion. Ford, who won a state title two years ago as a sophomore and placed fourth last year, advanced to the semifinals by winning his first two matches with a pin and a 10-5 decision. “I lost last year and that gave me the fire to wrestle hard,” Ford said. “This is my senior year.” Ford lost in the quarterfinals last year and was determined not to repeat that experience. He led 10-0. “You don’t want to rest when you’re on the bottom,” said Greg Ford, Marques’ brother and coach. “He’s got to continue to wrestle hard.” Tumwater’s Riley Prentice (160) and Easton Hargrave (171) both reached today’s semifinals. Prentice picked up a pair of decisions, winning 6-4 and 9-0. He’ll face Othello’s Amando Deleon. Hargrave cruised to the semis by winning 12-5 and by a second-round pin to improve to 37-2. He has a school-record 34 pins. “He’s relentless,” Tumwater coach Tony Prentice said about Hargrave. “If he gets you on your back, you’re in trouble.” Yelm’s Patrick Benson and Crone both lost their quarterfinal matches after leading. Benson led 6-0 and lost by a pin in the closing seconds of the match. Crone led 4-2 in the second round and lost 8-6 on a reverse with 45 seconds left. “He gassed out,” Strand said of Crone. “I don’t know if it was the stress trying to be a repeat champion. “Benson has been hurt and hasn’t been able to train hard for the past month.” Yelm advanced to the semifinals in four of the first six weight classes. Harris, a freshman, won by a pair of pins, giving him 28 for the season. He’s now 32-4. “I was a little nervous,” Harris said. “A little nervous is good. I’ve wrestled in front of big crowds before at nationals.” Hyder dominated his first two opponents, winning by a pin and a score of 17-1. He advances to the semifinals for the third time. Bradley won his matches 13-3 and 7-1. Thornhill won by a pin and 10-8. “Winning a state team title is a dream,” Hyder said. “It’s something Yelm has never done. It’s something we want to get done this year.” Timberline, advancing six to state, won three of its opening round matches but didn’t advance anyone to the semifinals. “We had three seniors and three underclassmen here,” Timberline coach Jeff Birbeck said. “They’ve all worked hard. It looks good for the future.” In 4A, Olympia’s Jordan Pine won his opening match 10-7 but then lost to No. 1 seed Dylan Rutledge of Auburn, 3-2. Pine, who placed seventh at state last year, was seeded No. 2. “It was a tough match,” Olympia coach Rockey Isley said. “It was No. 1 versus No. 2. Two good wrestlers.” In the girls tournament, Yelm’s Kacee Hurd (135) and Olympia’s Cassie Martin (160) advanced to today’s semifinals. Hurd won her first two matches by pins. Martin advanced with two first-round pins. Yelm, which advanced seven to state, was in fourth with 29 points after the first day. Sedro-Woolley was in first with 56.