With a smile and a can of peaches in tow, Jeremy Smith set the bar.
“I made it this far,” he said. “Might as well go out and try to take it.”
Smith, a junior at Yelm High School, won his first 195-pound regional wrestling title at Bellarmine Prep last weekend.
This weekend? He’ll compete at Mat Classic at the Tacoma Dome for the first time.
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“He’s got everything,” Yelm assistant coach Tim Beaudin said. “He’s got the quicks. He also has a good shot. He’s tough on top — he’s got everything you need to win it.”
Smith enters the state tournament ranked No. 2 at 195 pounds in Class 4A. Kent Meridian’s Emmanuel Daigbe is No. 1 — and is on the opposite side of the bracket.
“He’s a solid kid, he’s got the right mindset,” Beaudin said of Smith. “We hope he can get to the finals, and if he gets a shot, he’s prepared for it.”
Smith found success this season. He enrolled at Yelm this year after spending his first two years of high school at Bethel.
“I wanted a change, and I knew the program here was really good,” Smith said. “My parents wanted to buy a house, so it kind of all came together this way.”
Smith said the move positioned him in an environment where he could thrive.
“I push myself harder,” he said. “I don’t want to let these guys down. It’s just the environment — I feel so good here. I mold in, I feel like I’m more of a leader here.”
Yelm coach Gaylord Strand said that — despite being a first-year transfer — Smith often fires up his teammates.
“He fit in right away,” Strand said. “His personality is great. Some kids just have that persona about them and they fit in well.”
Smith played football last fall with many of his wrestling teammates — including Bo Campbell (170 pounds) and Tyler Losch (182), with whom he spars.
Yelm is expected to contend for the team title this weekend — it is currently projected as the No. 8 team in the state in 4A. Thirteen Yelm wrestlers advanced to the state tournament.
“We push them to the point where they’re mentally tough,” Beaudin said. “We focus on pinning and finishing and winning that next match.”
Strand said Smith’s surroundings have contributed to the rapid success.
“He’s matured,” Strand said. “He didn’t have a lot of good workout partners at Bethel. If you can surround yourself with good workout partners, you’re going to be pretty good yourself.”
Beaudin, an occasional sparring partner for Smith at practice, is a former state champion for Yelm. He won a 2A title in 1994 at 148 pounds. Beaudin said Smith has the right mentality to compete for a state championship.
“One, you’ve got to believe that you’re at that level, which usually doesn’t happen until you’ve been at state, because you’ve got to get used to that environment,” Beaudin said. “Two, is just having the will to get through it, because you’re going to face adversity.
“It’s not easy — especially 4A. When I wrestled, it was 2A. It’s a whole different monster now, what these kids have to get through just to get to the finals.”
But Smith intends to be there, and molding into Yelm’s winning culture has helped him reach the path.
“It was obviously a good choice, it made me into what I am right now,” Smith said.
Mat Classic XXVIII
Friday-Saturday, Tacoma Dome
Friday: Session I (all first-round matches) is 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Session II (consolation and quarterfinal matches) is 3:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m.
Saturday: Session III (semifinal, consolation and state placing matches) is 10 a.m.- 2:15 p.m. Session IV (championship finals) is 5 p.m.-9:15 p.m.
Region II champion Yelm is ranked No. 8 in the state in 4A, and will try to contend for a team title with 13 wrestlers competing. The Tornados took sixth last year. Bo Campbell (170 pounds) and Holden Miller (285) are both returning state placers, as is Olympia’s Layn Pannkuk (138). Olympia’s Logan Pine, who suffered a head injury at last year’s tournament, returns to a loaded 145-pound bracket. Shelton’s Colton Paller (195) is South Sound’s only returning state placer in the 3A tournament. W.F. West’s 11 wrestlers will try to best a seventh-place finish in the 2A tournament last year. Michael Matagi (145) and Michael Anderson (152) — ranked No. 1 in 2A — are both returning state placers, while Damon Thomas is ranked No. 1 at 138 pounds. Riley Noonan (285) also returns for Tenino. Yelm’s Bree Hyder (105) is back in the girls competition.
Area wrestlers competing
Class 4A: 106 — Chaz Poston, soph., Olympia; Chase Poston, soph., Olympia; Ryan Davis, fr., Yelm. 113 — Mason Harrison, jr., Yelm; Gavin Stewart, soph., Yelm. 120 — James Page, sr., Yelm. 126 — Trevor Shaw, sr., Olympia; Thomas Munoz, sr., Yelm. 138 — Layn Pannkuk, jr., Olympia. 145 — Jacob Nolan, sr., Yelm; Logan Pine, sr., Olympia. 152 — Chayton Miller, fr., Yelm. 160 — Derrick Platt, fr., Yelm; Adam Benson, jr., Timberline. 170 — Bo Campbell, sr., Yelm. 182 — Tyler Losch, jr., Yelm. 195 — Jeremy Smith, jr., Yelm. 220 — Bryce Vaughn, sr., Timberline; Noah Littlefield, sr., Yelm. 285 — Holden Miller, sr., Yelm.
Class 3A: 145 — Alec Manke, sr., Shelton. 182 — Gable Lacy, jr., Shelton. 195 — Colton Paller, sr., Shelton. 285 — Angus Beaton, jr., Capital.
Class 2A: 106 — Matthew Anfeldt, jr., Tumwater; Roehre Cunningham, soph., W.F. West. 113 — Levi Walters, soph., W.F. West. 120 — Mykka McAllister, soph., Centralia; Ethan Lund, sr., W.F. West; Jacob Paris, jr., Rochester. 138 — Damon Thomas, jr., W.F. West; Logan Greenwell, sr., Tumwater. 145 — Colter Jacobsen, jr., Tumwater; Michael Matagi, sr., W.F. West. 152 — Michael Anderson, jr., W.F. West; Tristan Dickey, soph., Centralia. 160 — Gage Keesee, sr., Black Hills. 182 — Joe Finch, sr., Centralia; Brenden Spahr, jr., W.F. West. 195 — Braden Bostwick, jr., W.F. West; TJ Borden, sr., Black Hills. 220 — Blayne Haderman, jr., River Ridge; Brin Hanson, sr., Tumwater; Tyler Pallas, jr., W.F. West. 285 — Cy Hicks, soph., Tumwater; Hunter Arredondo, jr., W.F. West; Cole Miller, sr., W.F. West.
Class 1A: 113 — Colten French, soph., Elma; Jordan Antill, jr., Tenino; 120 — Mario Yanez, jr., Elma. 138 — James Heppe, soph., Elma. 145 — Jeremiah Leonard, sr., Elma. 160 — Cory Marsh, sr., Elma. 285 — Riley Noonan, sr., Tenino.
Class 2B/1B: 106 — Curtis Lenz, jr., Rainier. 126 — Israel Elwell, sr., Rainier. 132 — Graham Roca, fr., Northwest Christian. 182 — Matt Brown, soph., Northwest Christian; David Hoover, soph., Rainier.
Girls: 105 — Bree Hyder, jr. Yelm; Kalyn Filby, sr., Tenino; Veronica Chigo, sr., Centralia. 115 — Kaylan Rocamora, sr., Timberline. 120 — Chelsey Rochester, soph., Yelm. 125 — Kayla Weed, soph., W.F. West; Samantha Teitzel, jr., Centralia. 130 — Taylor Dick, soph., Elma. 135 — Kaylin Wilson, sr., Yelm. 140 — Tyler Jorgenson, soph., Centralia. 145 — Sidnee Arcury, jr., Centralia; Bailey Fullerton, sr., Yelm; Matlyne Mecham, jr., Shelton. 155 — Jordan Christin, sr., Centralia. 170 — Quinn Lacy, fr., Shelton; Anna Dick, jr., Elma. 235 — Julia Sylstad, sr., Yelm.
Lauren Smith: firstname.lastname@example.org