River Ridge’s success rate was 100 percent at the 2A Region 2 wrestling tournament Saturday.
The host Hawks had five wrestlers competing in their home gymnasium in pursuit of next weekend’s Mat Classic, and they were a perfect 5 for 5, with four of those wrestlers going to the Tacoma Dome as participants for their first time.
Four of those five — Pyboon Krongmuang (132 pounds), Gabe Fraser (160), Jacob Zocco (170), Blayne Haderman (195) also wrestled in the finals, and all finished second. Also joining them at state is JJ Lewis, a fourth-place finisher at 285 pounds. The top four placers, plus the fifth-place alternate, advance to state at the Tacoma Dome.
Still, the thought of having five Hawks at the Tacoma Dome next weekend has Fraser, who lost to Renton’s Volodymyr Kalinin, 5-0, in the finals, awestruck.
“We’ll all be hanging out and doing our drills together,” said Fraser, a second-year wrestler. “We’ll be ranked up there (in the team race), hopefully.”
Those five helped the Hawks place fourth in the team standings with 83 points. Orting won the team title (243 points) and is a strong contender for the 2A state team title after sending nine wrestlers to the regional finals, including an all-Cardinals final at 138 between Fred Green and Rex Dunn. Washington, with three regional champions, was second with 132 points, followed by Renton with 119.
A season ago, River Ridge coach Jim Belleville sent three wrestlers to state, including Zocco, who failed to place in 2014 as a junior. Now there’s five in Belleville’s second season.
Krongmuang lost to reigning 2A 120-pound state champion Ben Gore of Orting in the 132-pound final by pin, in 1 minute, 31 seconds, yet Krongmuang said he goes into every match thinking he’s wrestling a state champion, and he hopes next week is a different outcome.
“I think I could’ve won today ... Just learn from it and, hopefully, place at state,” he said.
Orting had three of its regional champions in the first six weight classes — freshman Alex Cruz (106), sophomore Gore (132) and the senior Green (138), a three-time Mat Classic champion, pinning teammate Dunn in 2:28. Earlier in the day, Dunn’s 5-second semifinal pin created a buzz.
Then at 285 pounds, junior Hunter Mullins, the top-ranked 2A wrestler, had little trouble with Lindbergh’s James Garcia, winning 11-2 to give Orting its fourth regional champion.
In all, the Cardinals are sending 11 wrestlers (as well as two alternates) to state, seeking a state title they’ve been focusing on since November.
“Now that we’re less than a week away,” Mullins said, “I think this team will be able to win state this year.”