What you need to know, who you need to watch at 2020 Mat Classic, the WIAA state wrestling championships

The 2020 Mat Classic starts Friday morning at the Tacoma Dome and continues until Saturday night. Here’s everything you need to know about the Washington state wrestling championships.

FIVE STORYLINES

1. WHAT, NO FOUR-TIMER HOPEFULS THIS YEAR?

Since the state went to five separate classification, and added girls wrestling as a sanctioned sport – it started a boom in four-time state champions.

R.A. Long’s Pat Connors was the first high school wrestler in Washington to win four Mat Classic titles – in 1994. Seven years passed until Tonasket’s Martin Mitchell matched that feat.

But when Black Hills’ Jimmy Belleville became a four-time state champion in 2009, it triggered an 11-year run of at least one wrestler, boy or girl, winning four titles in a row.

That streak ends this weekend, however.

2. SO WHO THEN IS THE BEST WRESTLER IN THE DOME?

There are a handful on a short list of candidates, but Scorebook Live will go with the combatant selected as part of its top 14 wrestlers to watch entering the postseason package – Toppenish’s Haiden Drury (2A) at 132 pounds.

Drury, a two-time Mat Classic winner, won his second consecutive national championship last summer. He captured the Greco-Roman Junior National title at. 132 pounds.

Known for his insanely relentless work rate on the mat, Drury has signed to wrestle at Fresno State University.

3. CAN ANYONE STOP EASTERN WASHINGTON POWERHOUSES CHIAWANA (4A), MOUNT SPOKANE (3A) AND TOPPENISH (2A) FROM REPEATING?

Unlikely, but not impossible.

Chiawana stormed the 4A field last year, scoring a tournament-record 227 points in walloping second-place Curtis (152) by 75 points – the largest margin of victory since 2000 when Moses Lake (159.5) lapped Capital by 94.5 points.

The Riverhawks are bringing nine wrestlers to the Tacoma Dome this week, led by three returning state champions – Darion Johnson (152), Tyson Stover (182) and Isaiah Anderson (195), and three-time state runner-up Robby Vaughn (138).

If there is a team that can chase them down, it is Tahoma with its 10 participants, including four regional champions in Yusief Lillie (120), Steele Starren (145), Michael Gasper (195) and Levi Kovacs (220).

Mount Spokane obliterated the 3A competition with 235.5 points, and brings back 11 wrestlers to defend that crown this weekend – but no returning state champions. Ky Haney is the team’s top wrestler at 145.

In 2A, Toppenish outscored everybody in 2019 with a whopping 310 points to dethrone White River (259).

The Wildcats have star power in Drury, Horacio Godinez (113) and Kyler Romero (138) – and depth with 14 wrestlers in the Mat Classic field this weekend. SPSL 2A rivals Orting and White River have the bench chance of making a move to the top.

4. WHY ISN’T GRANGER GETTING ANY LOVE?

The Spartans should be, and are in great position to nab their first Class 1A crown since 2017.

Gage Cook, a returning state champion at 220, won a national title over the summer. And Abel Nava Jr. (126). also a 2019 state champion, is the best lower-weight wrestler you’ve never heard of.

Granger has not only been the top-ranked program in 1A all season, the well-versed Washington Wrestling Report has had the Spartans inside the top five, regardless of classification. They bring 12 wrestlers to Mat Classic this weekend, including five regional winners.

5. HOW QUICKLY HAS GIRLS WRESTLING EVOLVED?

When Jason Jackson started with the White River girls nearly a decade ago, the sanctioned all-classification state tournament was just getting its sea legs.

Back then, 67 schools scored at least one point in the state tournament (granted, it was in 12 weight classes).

To show how quickly the popularity of the sport has spread among girls, and how rapidly the quality has improved as well, 143 schools scored at least one point point at Mat Classic last season (in 14 weight classes).

“The growth is tremendous,” Jackson said. “Ten years ago, I’d give it a C-grade. Now, they are as technical as the boys. The moves they do are just like the boys.”

Jackson’s group in Buckley are the favorites this week to win their first Mat Classic girls team title.

Here was Scorebook Live’s top 10 girl wrestlers to follow in this postseason, including in the Tacoma Dome.

THREE BOYS TO WATCH IN EACH WEIGHT CLASS (in order of classification, then alphabetical order)

106: Steven Zaragoza, North Central (3A); Joel Godino, Toppenish (2A); Oscar Alvarez, Granger (1A)

113: Donnie Krissak, Bethel (3A); Jarrett Sharp, Mount Spokane (3A); Horacio Godinez, Toppenish (2A)

120: Yusief Lillie, Tahoma (4A); EJ Villanueva, Sunnyside (4A); Nathan Gregory, Deer Park (1A)

126: Kenndyl Mobley, North Central (3A); Conor Goucher, Orting (2A); Abel Nava Jr, Granger (1A)

132: Maka Yacapin, Curtis (4A); Haiden Drury, Toppenish (2A); Rueben Seeman, Colville (1A)

138: Robby Vaughn, Chiawana (4A); Thor Michaelson, Bremerton (2A); Kyler Romero, Toppenish (2A)

145: Mateo De La Pena, Kennedy Catholic (4A); Steele Starren, Tahoma (4A); Ky Haney, Mount Spokane (3A)

152: Ryan Wheeler, Curtis (4A); Gabe Hawthorne, White River (2A); Christopher Hamblin, Seton Catholic (1A)

160: Isaiah Gonzales, Pasco (4A); Gideon Malychewski, Camas (4A); Weston Lyver, White River (2A)

170: Kyle Brosius, Union (4A); Ethan Davis, Medical Lake (1A); Kaden Krouse, Chewelah (B)

182: Isaac Clark, Puyallup (4A); Tyson Stover, Chiawana (4A); Cayden White, Marysville-Pilchuck (3A)

195: Isaiah Anderson, Chiawana (4A); Michael Gasper, Tahoma (4A); Johnny Franke, Darrington (B)

220: Dustyn Camacho, O’Dea (3A); Amadeo Flores-Pimental, Selah (2A); Gage Cook, Granger (1A)

285: Braxton Mikesell, Central Valley (4A); Isaiah Perez, Othello (2A); Charlie Harrington, Liberty of Spangle (B)

TWO GIRLS TO WATCH IN EACH WEIGHT CLASS (alphabetical order)

100: Kayla McKinley-Johnson, Federal Way; Taylor Wilson, Hanford

105: Aaliyah Escamilla, Warden; Isabella Morales, Toppenish

110: Emily Mendez, Othello; Salyna Shotwell, Rogers of Puyallup

115: Shelby Moore, White River; Molly Williams, Redmond

120: Holly Beaudoin, North Kitsap; Maizy Feltwell, Liberty of Spangle

125: Riley Aarnold, Union; Claire Dicugno, White River

130: London Houston, Federal Way; Viktorya Torres, Granger

135: Allison Blaine, Hudson’s Bay; Holly Butler, Snohomish

140: Xylia Warner, W.F. West; Jalia Williams, White River

145: Ivy Kraight, Kentwood; Grace Nelson, Hanford

155: Jennifer Tongi, Federal Way; Shannon Workinger, Quincy

170: Alexa Asselin, Kennewick, Kiley Hubby, Lake Stevens

190: Ofa He Lotu Tuifua, Kent-Meridian; Alivia White, Marysville-Pilchuck

235: Goddess Ma’alona-Faletogo, Jefferson; Chanel Siva, Stanwood

FRIDAY SCHEDULE

Session I (4A, 1A and 2B/1B first-round, quarterfinal and consolation matches in the Tacoma Dome) is from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Session II (3A, 2A and girls first-round, quarterfinal and consolation matches) is from 4:30-8:30 p.m.

SATURDAY SCHEDULE

Session III (semifinal, consolation and non-championship state-placing matches for all classifications in the Tacoma Dome) is from 9:45 a.m-2:45 p.m. Session IV (all championship finals) is from 5 p.m.-9 p.m.

TICKETS

Single day is $18 for adults, $13 for students and senior citizens. All tournament is $32 for adults, $23 for students and senior citizens.

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