TUMWATER - When the opportunity arose, Kaycee Hurd made her move.
In her first regional-tournament appearance, the Yelm sophomore had already secured a state berth by earning her way into the 135-pound title match Saturday at the District III/IV all-classification tournament at Black Hills High School.
But, facing Skyview’s Anna Stauffer in a battle between ranked opponents and trailing 12-9 late in the third round, she wasn’t about to settle for second.
When Stauffer didn’t make a move quickly enough, Hurd seized an opening and pinned Stauffer in 5 minutes, 39 seconds to capture the regional title.
She was one of two Yelm wrestlers who competed for regional crowns – the other was Morgan Michels at 171 – and the Tornados will send seven wrestlers and two alternates to next weekend’s Mat Classic at the Tacoma Dome. The top four wrestlers in each weight class move on to state.
“I just wanted to go 200 percent today,” Hurd said. “I really wanted this really badly. I knew I wanted to be strong, and I went out there and did my thing. It’s so surreal. I can’t even describe it.”
South Sound teams fared well at the regional. One week after winning the sub-regional at Hoquiam, Yelm finished third with 137 points, and Rainier was fifth with 66 points.
Kelso, with three regional champions, won the team title with 161 points, followed by Washougal (144.5).
Tumwater (31) and Montesano (31) tied for eighth place in the 26-team tournament.
For Hurd, the regional title was a year in the making. Last season as a freshman, she didn’t make it out of the district tournament, placing fifth. A goal of hers from the start was to place higher than she did a season ago. After Saturday’s match, she had improved her season record to 25-7.
“Kaycee has figured out there are certain things she’s good at,” Yelm coach Amy Earley said. “She doesn’t allow herself to get worked up before a match. “(Stauffer) is super tough, and nobody on Yelm’s team has beaten her before.”
Depth was a key for Yelm, as it has been all season. The team sent 11 wrestlers to regionals from a 25-wrestler team this season. At the sub-regional, Yelm won the tournament by 130 points. Earley said the difference with this team is the strong group of veterans, plus a lot of strong first-year wrestlers.
Rainier was the smallest classification team to place in the top 10. Cheyenne Larson, who attends Tenino, and Nichole Morris made it to the title matches at 160 pounds, and 140, respectively. After falling to Michels of Yelm in her opening match, Justine Jones bounced back to finish third. She pinned Montesano’s Alexi Prante in 1:50.
Montesano’s Michaela Ecklund remained unbeaten (25-0) after pinning Larson in 2:46. Ecklund has placed sixth and second at state the past two seasons.
One of the bigger upsets came at 125 pounds. Hoquiam’s Dallas Wagner suffered her first loss of the season (32-1) in the title match against Kelso’s Shay Workman, who defeated Wagner in a tight contest, 13-11.
In the 160 match for third and fourth places, Olympia’s Cassie Martin pinned Capital’s Chandra Ragsac in 2:01, and at 140, Tumwater’s Varonica Robbins beat Haylie Osborn of Yelm by a fall at 3:56.
Meg Wochnick: 360-754-5473