In front of a crowd Saturday morning, a ninth grader tried to beat him up. Fortunately, the younger boy was penalized, defeated and sent home.
Saturday night, as the crowd swelled for the championship finals of Mat Classic XXV, Hart had to put something dear to him on the line – his 220-pound Class 3A state wrestling title.
And after posting a 10-4 victory over Mount Spokane’s Tom Harvey to become his school’s second repeat winner, he tried taking down his three coaches with a celebratory arm-bar – all in one big swoop – before somersaulting onto the concrete floor.
For South Sound wrestlers, it was an up-and-down day. For the second consecutive year, one Harris brother won a state title (this time Dillon) for Yelm High School, while the other lost in the finals (Darren).
The brother connection did not stop there. With former two-time state champion Justin Eastman in his corner as coach, exciting Rochester High sophomore Lucas Eastman lost 9-4 in overtime to Connell’s Roberto Orozco in the 1A finals at 145.
Even Tumwater had a roller-coaster day as Cameron Nolan lost in the 132 finals at 2A – but teammate Jose Jimenez scored five points in the final 30 seconds to pull out a 9-8 win for the 220 title.
Watching big men “Yelp” is such a cool sound – and Hart let a bit of emotion go after his dominating effort over Harvey, joining Brad Benn (1975-76) as Timberline’s only two-time champion.
“When he gets focused, and gets his mind set, he goes and does it,” Timberline coach Jeff Birbeck said. “He doesn’t let anybody push him around.”
But, oh, how his touted semifinal opponent – Prairie High’s Dallas Goodpaster – tried. Known to be rough with opponents, Goodpaster delivered a couple of head slaps to Hart, and was eventually penalized a point for the action.
“A free point every time he punches me in the face,” said Hart, who defeated Goodpaster, 9-3. “I’ll take it.”
Meanwhile Yelm sent three wrestlers to the finals – Darren Harris at 113, Dillon Harris at 138 and Anthony Allred at 160.
It was an all-reigning state champion 113 finals for the younger Harris and Edmonds-Woodway’s Noah Cuzzetto. The two met last week for the Region I title, won 6-5 by Cuzzetto.
On this night, Harris had Cuzzetto on his back 35 seconds into the match, grabbing a quick 4-0 lead. But in the second period, still leading, Harris got caught in a cradle, and was pinned in 3:09.
About an hour later, Dillon Harris, a senior, dominated his 138 title match with Kent-Meridian’s Joshua Smith, eventually completing an impressive run through the tournament with a fall in 3:15.
“I have been waiting for this for three years,” Dillon Harris said. “I knew I wasn’t going to let it slip again. I have been thinking about this every day.”
Then he paused, and thought about his brother being in the same situation he was in a year ago.
“I am proud of him,” Dillon Harris said. “He did his best.”
Eastman scored the first takedown of his 145 finals showdown – and still led late in the match when the taller Orozco took a shot deep into the Rochester standout’s body, and got a takedown with 30 seconds to go. An Eastman escape sent the match into overtime, tied at 4-4.
Then, 20 seconds into the extra period, Orozco successfully got into Eastman’s midsection again. This time, the Eastern Washington-committed wrestler turned Eastman over for not only the match-winning takedown – but he was awarded three more points for a near-fall.
At one point, Jimenez trailed West Valley of Spokane’s Jace Malek, 7-4, in the final round. But he scored a takedown – then a 3-point near fall with 20 seconds to go to pull out a decision in his first Mat Classic trip.
“It was late effort,” Jimenez said. “I had to try something.”
In the 2A finals at 132, a trailing Nolan escaped the grasp of reigning 126 champion Cole Harris, of Deer Park, with 30 seconds to go to cut his deficit to 4-2.
But the Thunderbirds’ standout was immediately taken down. He lost, 6-3 – but leaves the school as a four-time state placer.
Allred gave up the first seven points, and lost to Mead’s Tyler McLean, 11-3, in the 160 finals.