State Meet | Grapplers eliminated on first day of Mat Classic

Alex Hoover tries to fight out of a pin attempt by Shadle Park’s Darren Bunke at Mat Classic. - John Becerra Jr./Staff Photo
Alex Hoover tries to fight out of a pin attempt by Shadle Park’s Darren Bunke at Mat Classic.
— image credit: John Becerra Jr./Staff Photo

(A slideshow of Mat Classic can be seen here.)

TACOMA – After his last match as a Bainbridge wrestler ended in a heartbreaking loss, Corey Touchette was so upset about his defeat he tossed his headgear to the floor. 

The reaction was indicative of a frustrating day for five Bainbridge wrestlers, all of whom were eliminated on the first day of Mat Classic XXIII at the Tacoma Dome.

Touchette was the only wrestler to come away with a win, eventually finishing with a 1-2 record on the day in the 160-pound bracket. 

The senior co-captain lost his first-round match to Glacier Peak’s Sean Elledge in a 7-4 decision. 

He rebounded to defeat Joey Bellinger of Columbia River in a 2-1 decision when he scored on a reversal in the third period.

Touchette’s run at a medal was ended at the hands of Jake Lueders of Bonney Lake in a 5-2 decision. 

Touchette was down 2-0 going into the third period, but scored on a reversal to tie the score.

Lueders followed with an escape late in the third period, then added a takedown to ensure the victory. 

Lueders went on to place third in the bracket.

Senior co-captain Karl Hunt lost by pinfall in both of his matches in the 189-pound bracket. 

He was pinned by eventual state champion Dustin Johnson of University Prep in 56 seconds in his first match, then lost to Shorewood’s Joel Smith by pinfall in 3:15 in his consolation match. 

Hunt was down 1-0 before making a mistake and subsequently being pinned.

“For Corey and Karl, there is a lot of disappointment,” head coach Dan Pippinger said. “They wanted to get a medal and they didn’t accomplish it.

“Regardless, it’s a great accomplishment to make it to Mat Classic and wrestle there,” he continued. “It’s something they’ll remember for the rest of their lives.”

Pippinger said the sport often teaches its participants a lesson or two about life.

“If nothing else, sometimes wrestling teaches us to bounce back from adversity,” he said. “We’re handed struggles for a reason. Having that goal and not accomplishing it makes you hungry to succeed in the future.”

Three other Bainbridge wrestlers – all underclassmen – went two and out on the first day of Mat Classic. 

Dylan Read lost two straight in the 119-pound bracket to be eliminated. 

He was pinned by eventual state finalist Brandon Matlock in 56 seconds of his opening round match. He was eliminated by Kenny Griggs of Lakes via pinfall in 4:24, as the much stronger Griggs took him down time and time again.

Alex Hoover went 0-2 as well in the 140-pound bracket. He lost to eventual state champion Darren Bunke by pinfall in 1:11, then was pinned by Chili Sabin of Bonney Lake in 46 seconds.

In the 215-pound bracket, Mike Grant lost to Joe Janicki from Sedro Woolley by pinfall in 1:14, then was pinned by Johnny Martinez from Eastmont in 2:55.

Pippinger said despite the stacked hands the younger wrestlers were competing against, they can still take away much from the state tournament. 

“It’s just a great experience to be there,” he said. “Now they have a better idea for what to expect and know what they’re training for going into next season. If nothing else, you get to say I wrestled the state champion when I was a freshman.”

Though they lose several seniors to graduation, Pippinger said they’ll get back the same with several freshman coming up and with many underclassmen getting valuable experience on the mat.

“I’m looking forward to next year,” he said. “In some ways the team will still be young, but they’ll have more experience and be able to get more successful on the mat.”


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