Chelan had three wrestlers competing at the WIAA MATT Classic this past weekend. Jose Lopez, left, placed fourth overall in the State Championship. Eric Garcia managed fifth place and Senior Hank Burton, while not medaling, wrestled at the tournament for the second year in a row. All three are to be congratulated for a job well done for Chelan Athletics.
Chelan has two place wrestlers at State
Garcia takes fifth and Lopez takes fourth
By Richard Uhlhorn
Leaving it all on the mat is all that a coach can ask, and for Chelan’s Wrestling Coach Jay McGuffin, his wrestlers did just that. No, they didn’t end up as state champions, but they did prove they were amongst the best in the State.
MATT Classic is this nations largest high school athletic event with all classifications wrestling at the same time in the Tacoma Dome.
For Senior Hank Burton (135 lbs.), it was his second trip to the Classic and Coach McGuffin had high hopes for his chances at securing a medal, but it wasn’t to be. Burton lost his first match on Friday to Warden’s Scott Henderson by fall at of the six minute match. Burton then faced Port Townsend’s Ryan Unbedacht and destroyed him in an overwhelming 18-2 Technical Fall.
This put Burton up against Omak’s Jeff Condon, a wrestler who he has never been able to beat this year. Condon once again got the best of Burton beating him by a narrow 6-3 decision to continue on. “If Hank had won his first match, I believe he would have made it all the way to the semis,” said Coach McGuffin. “We are going to miss his leadership next year.” Burton has been the team captain and team leader all year long, not missing one practice.
Senior Jose Lopez found himself in a battle in his first match, winning it in a 5-3 overtime decision against Cortez Hernandez of Zilla. Lopez went on to pin Chance Petrich of Tenino, placing him in the semi-final match up with Orting’s Drew Templeton.
Orting was the strongest 1A team at the Classic and Templeton showed Lopez to the back door by pinning him in of the semi-final match. Templeton eventually won the state championship. This put Lopez down in the bracket where he took on Castle Rock’s Marcus Deyo, winning that match and the right to wrestle for third or fourth by a tough 4-3 decision.
This put Lopez up against Lakeside’s Michael Baumgarden and he found himself in another tough match, losing 4-0 to take home fourth place hardware to finish his high school wrestling career. Lopez plans on attending Eastern or CentralWashingtonUniversity after graduation.
An upcoming leader of the Chelan Wrestling Team has to be Eric Garcia. As a freshman, Garcia has been particularly impressive, taking on wrestlers more experience then he is and winning, and winning, and winning.
Garcia immediately let his presence know when he stepped onto the mat in his first match and beat his opponent, Misael Lopez of Connell by a fall in 1:59 of the first round. Garcia then entered the second match of Friday’s session against Orting’s Dakota Stiles, a junior in that program. Stiles also fell to Garcia in of that match, putting Garcia into the semi-final match against the number one ranked junior, Hernan Serra of Connell. This was a tough match and Garcia had it tied 2-2, but Serra scored points on a reversal towards the end of the match to win and then go on to win the state championship match.
“It happens so quick,” said McGuffin. You are tied at 2-2 with only a little time remaining and your opponent scores on you giving you only a little time to score back.”
The loss to Serra put Garcia up against sophomore Javier Tapia, a match he lost in a 6-3 decision. Garcia then wrestled for fifth or seventh and ended up dominating Austin Dodson of Orting in a technical fall 18-0 to take home fifth place hardware. “It’s good to see him win that last match of the day,” said McGuffin.
For Coach McGuffin, the year ended with two state placers. “I feel better today than I did last month,” said McGuffin. “I’m looking forward to helping with the middle school program and getting the newcomers read to enter high school. We’ve got a great group coming up.”
Reaching the MATT Classic is a highlight in any wrestler’s career. Only 16 wrestlers in each weight class are good enough to make the State Championships, which puts them at the top of their game. Congratulations go to all the Chelan wrestlers for their efforts this year.
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