Sports

Quartet of grapplers at state tournament

Spartan wrestler Brian Robert subdues an opponent during Metro League play recently. At last weekend’s regional tournament, Robert took first in the 152-point weight class. He won his first match at the Mat Classic Friday. - JIM BRYANT photo
Spartan wrestler Brian Robert subdues an opponent during Metro League play recently. At last weekend’s regional tournament, Robert took first in the 152-point weight class. He won his first match at the Mat Classic Friday.
— image credit: JIM BRYANT photo

Smith, Robert prevail in early action; Brooks, Lyons look to rebound.

The Bainbridge High School wrestlers sent their big three to the state Mat Classic tournament yesterday and today, after the Spartans emerged with two first place finishes, a second and a sixth at regionals a week earlier.

Early results at the Mat Classic were mixed. Zach Smith and Brian Robert both claimed victory in their first round matches Friday morning at the Tacoma Dome, while Ian Brooks stumbled.

Also heading south for the weekend was Anna Lyons to compete in the classic’s girls invitational. Lyons fell in the first leg of a three-match round-robin Friday.

The road to Tacoma went through Renton and regional competition, from which Smith, Robert and Brooks emerged with distinction last weekend.

Pinning his opponents by the second round in each of his three regional matches, Smith (35-1) rolled through the 130-pound field, taking the championship trophy.

For the third meet in a row, he also won honors as the wrestler of the tournament.

“He plowed through,” Bainbridge coach Steve Hohl said. “Metro has some top talent, so that was an honor. But (to win) at Regionals where it was all filtered to top wrestlers, that says something special about Zach.”

Robert took first in his weight class of 152, while Brooks (26-10) has only been beaten in recent weeks by nemesis Nate McRae from West Seattle.

Robert (25-8) pinned Blanchet’s Alex Polich in the second frame, before a 17-8 decision over Ben Pesicka of Mount Rainier earned him the crown.

At 145 pounds, Brooks pinned the first two wrestlers he faced, Steven Gentry from Kennedy in the third period and Jeff Lowery of Ingraham in the first, then was edged on points 4-8 against McRae.

For the second week in a row, Brooks lost to the West Seattle senior, but he advanced to the Mat Classic as the second place finisher.

Mathew Ritualo (15-16) was the only disappointment in Renton. While he was a longshot to move on, he was still in position to advance through the 103-pound weight division going into his third match.

He saw a familiar face in Chase Cowin of Eastside Catholic, whom he had wrestled twice previously.

The third meeting went Cowin’s way, but he had to overcome a points advantage by Ritualo going into the final period.

“It’s too bad about Mathew,” Hohl said. “He was in position to go to state with the win over Cowin. He went into the final period with a four-point lead, but was too aggressive.”

Smith’s honors as wrestler of the tournament added that ribbon to those he earned in the Metro and District meets in previous weeks.

Smith’s focus and competitiveness are now balanced by smarts in challenging situations, his coach said.

“Sometimes he goes for too much, or he did (in past meets),” Hohl said. “Now he’s showing his maturity to not get frustrated, take what he can and refocus even during the ups and downs of the match.”

State tournament action continues today at the Tacoma Dome.

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