Mat Classic XXVI: Slew of South Sounders on to semis

Olympia’s Pine pulls an upset, while River Ridge sends 2 to state semifinals for first time in school history

mwochnick@theolympian.comFebruary 22, 2014 

TACOMA — Logan Pine knows the ins and outs of Union High School fab freshman Tommy Strassenberg, the state’s second-ranked Class 4A wrestler at 138 pounds.

The two are friends; they roomed together at USA Wrestling’s National Cadet duals last summer. Last month on Pine’s home turf at Olympia High School, Strassenberg handed the sophomore a 2-1 defeat in quadruple overtime during the Gut Check Challenge.

But as Olympia wrestling coach Greg Hargrave noted after Pine beat Strassenberg, 5-0, in Friday’s 4A 138-pound quarterfinals at Mat Classic XXVI, “that’s a great time to get him back.”

Pine’s win sends him to Saturday’s semifinal. He is the second Olympia wrestler in the past two years to make the semifinals, joining Josh Newbill (182) in 2013.

Pine said his tactics and stamina changed since the last time he faced Strassenberg, which gave him the edge in the pair’s second go-round.

“I needed to set up my stalling,” Pine said. “He kept working at the edge of the mat.”

It worked. A quick 2-0 lead on a takedown in Round 1 was all Pine needed.

“Right there,” he said, “I knew I had a shot at beating him.”

Pine, a No. 3 seed, wasn’t the only South Sound wrestler who beat a higher seed to make the semifinals. It happened to Timberline’s Niko Laiuppa, who faces a familiar opponent — Decatur’s Trysten Dawson — in Saturday’s 3A 120-pound semifinals. Dawson topped Laiuppa in last weekend’s regional tournament, forcing Laiuppa to win two successive consolation matches to place fourth.

In his quarterfinal match against Mount Spokane’s Alec Hoover, Laiuppa’s 4-3 lead became a 12-3 victory courtesy of a quick momentum shift.

“(A match) can turn in any way really fast,” Laiuppa said, “and I’m just glad it went in my favor.”

And then there’s the River Ridge duo of Daniel Montesa (132) and Elijah Camacho (160), who become the first pair of semifinalists the school has produced in the same season.

While Camacho makes the semis for the second successive year — he finished third a year ago — this is Montesa’s first trip. He showed strong emotion after his 10-9 Class 2A quarterfinal win over Granite Falls’ Tyler Groff and gave a thumbs-up to the River Ridge fans nearby in the stands.

“My hard work is working,” Montesa said. “It’s the only goal of mine — it’s to win.”


 • Yelm’s Darren Harris (120) pinned both his opponents to improve to 33-0 with 33 pins on the season, but he needed medical attention after a 3-minute, 32-second quarterfinal pin over Tahoma’s Justin Sipila.

“He wasn’t feeling that good today,” Tornados coach Gaylord Strand said of Harris. “He’ll get through it.”

Teammate Holden Miller (182) also reached the semifinals. Yelm is tied for fourth in the 4A team race with Union at 51 points.

 • North Thurston 220-pounder Jake Grantham had one of the swiftest days of any wrestler Friday. His pins came in 1:12 and 37 seconds — the third-fastest pin of Day One — to advance to his first semifinal in Class 3A. The day’s fastest pin belonged to Hudson’s Bay’s Gunnar Metzger in his 152-pound 3A quarterfinal (19 seconds).

 • Rochester’s Lucas Eastman (152) and Tenino’s Dom Nakano (195) are semifinal bound in Class 1A. Nakano becomes the Beavers’ first semifinalist since Justin Hernandez in the 120-pound class in 2008.

 • In the girls Mat Classic, Tumwater’s Megan Johnson (155) reached the semifinals with pins in 1:33 and 3:55. Yelm’s Shanelle Berry made the 235-pound semifinals, while Centralia boasts four semifinalists — Hailey Huerta (124), Kaitlyn Whalen (170) and 190-pounders Emily Huerta and Ryan Gibbons. Gibbons seeks her third Mat Classic title. The Tigers sit in second place with 42 points in the girls team race.

Meg Wochnick: 360-754-5473 @megwochnick

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