SHELTON - Consider it a tuneup for next week's state wrestling tournament for Tahoma. As anticipated, the South Puget Sound League North Division power flexed its muscles at the 4A Region III tournament Saturday, capturing four individual titles.
Tahoma, last year’s Class 4A state runner-up, got championships from Steven Hopkins (119), Jesse Vaughn (125), Dan Haniger (135) and Matt Hopkins (160); and easily took home the team title with 229 points.
South Kitsap was a distant second with 146 points.
Kentwood finished third as five of the top six teams were from the SPSL North. The top four finishers in each weight class advance to Mat Classic XXIII. The state wrestling tournament begins Friday at the Tacoma Dome.
Shelton, which finished 10th overall, advanced three wrestlers – Jakeob Garrick, Ty McCullough and Colby Barber – to state.
Joel Anthony was the only Olympia wrestler to move on to state.
Anthony (28-8) lost to Auburn’s Dylan Rutledge, who won the 2010 state championship at 171 pounds, by pin (4:43) in the 215-pound final.
Garrick (25-11) advanced to the 125-pound final, where he lost to Tahoma’s Vaughn by pin (3:59).
Vaughn (25-8) closed the first round with a near fall to establish an early 5-0 lead before posting a 8-0 advantage midway through the second en route to the pinfall victory.
“He was a little bit stronger, a little faster than me today,” said Garrick, a sophomore. “I got a taste of what state’s going to be like. It’s going to be a great experience next week.”
In addition to Garrick, Shelton also advanced McCullough (112 pounds) and Barber (160).
McCullough rebounded from a first-round loss to Tahoma’s Gabe Boynay to capture fourth place.
McCullough, a 2010 state participant, won a pair of matches in the consolation round before falling to Boynay for a second time, losing by pin (4:43) in a match that McCullough trailed, 4-3, midway through the third round.
“It’s just going to make me train harder this week heading into state,” McCullough said. “Being (at state) last year will help. I’ll know what to expect. Hopefully I will see (Boynay) again.”
Barber defeated Kentridge’s Chris Bailey by pin (4:18) in the first round before being pinned by Tahoma’s Garrett Autrey (5:53).
The junior then made his way through the consolation bracket, defeating Olympia’s Tanner Wright by pin (1:55) and Auburn’s Tarin MacDonald by pin (3:10) to secure the region’s third seed.
“Once the third round started I just wanted to end the match as quick as possible and start focusing on state,” said Barber, who trailed 2-0 after the first round.”