Smith, Thomas off to Mat Classic

On Saturday at White River High School, five Spartans took to the mats. But at the end of the day, only two advanced to the Mat Classic AAA state tournament -- their last hurrah of the season.

Juniors Zach Smith and Billy Thomas battled to second- and fourth-place finishes at the regional level, while senior John-Michael King and sophomore Brian Robert would ultimately settle for fifth -- and alternate spots at state. Elliott Thompson ended his season with a with a pair of losses.

Smith opened competition in the 125-pound weight class by ripping off Trenton Murray’s headgear off, and then Smith picked up the North Mason wrestler and was poised to throw him to the mat before barreling out of bounds.

The Spartan junior attempted the heave-ho again -- successfully -- and after the two-point takedown, quickly pinned Murray at 1:10 in the first period to advance to the second round.

Smith recorded an 8-1 decision against Clover Park’s Jake Amadeo with a pair of takedowns, an escape and a three-point near-fall. But in the finals, hometown grappler Paul Klein had the advantage, and Smith couldn’t eke out three points for the decision, instead settling for a 6-4 loss and second place overall.

Smith, now 29-5 overall with 19 pins, advances to this weekend’s Mat Classic XVI at the Tacoma Dome where he will take on Jake Cutrer of Squalicum in the first round of action.

171-pounder Billy Thomas drew a tough 5-0 loss against Peninsula’s Ryan Oswalt in his initial match of district competition.

Thomas and Oswalt circled each other like a pair of hungry bears, tugging and pawing, before Thomas eluded an Oswalt takedown attempt by spinning out of Oswalt’s grasp.

The Peninsula wrestler finally managed to bring Thomas to the mat with 45 seconds left in the first period, for the first points of the match. A three-point near-fall put Oswalt up 5-0, and the score didn’t change through the next pair of periods

-- despite Thomas dominating the final round.

His second match against Ingraham’s Drew McDonald ended with a pin-fall for Thomas at 3:23, but the next two go-arounds would be tough for the Spartan.

Thomas squeezed out an 8-6 victory over Blanchet’s Sam McNaghten -- who he’d never beaten in three previous matches -- but Peninsula’s Ryan Oswalt pinned Thomas near the end of the final round of wrestling. But, Thomas’s fourth-place regional finish sends him to state, where he will start off against Washougal’s Jamie Watts.

Senior John-Michael King had a rough start at regionals, being pinned by Peninsula’s Tony Underwood at 5:29. King bounced back to shut out O’Dea’s Chris Manning 8-0, but he couldn’t hold off Andy Chinn of Sequim in the third round. After the 6-3 technical-fall loss, King finally out-muscled West Seattle’s Nick Connor for fifth place.

King will accompany Smith and Thomas to state as an alternate at the 125-pound weight class. Sophomore Brian Robert also qualified as a state alternate with his fifth-place finish Saturday.

Wrestling at 140 pounds, Robert split the day with two wins and two losses, besting Jack Prince of Franklin Pierce and Eddie Lobdell of Eastside Catholic.

Robert scrapped out a 6-5 win against Pierce after a pin-fall loss to Rob Kilcup of Fife. His third-round matchup with Jesse Nyren of Clover Park led to the Spartan being pinned in the second period, but the subsequent match against Lobdell ended with a 5-3 victory.

Mat Classic XVI matches begin Friday morning at the Tacoma Dome, with finals continuing through Saturday.

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