Sports

Grapplers ready for Mat Classic

Anna Lyons (left) will compete in the girls invitational at the upcoming Mat Classic at the Tacoma Dome. Making the regular tournament are Spart wrestlers (L-R) Brian Robert, Matt Ritualo, Eli Narte and Ian Brooks.  - JULIE BUSCH photo
Anna Lyons (left) will compete in the girls invitational at the upcoming Mat Classic at the Tacoma Dome. Making the regular tournament are Spart wrestlers (L-R) Brian Robert, Matt Ritualo, Eli Narte and Ian Brooks.
— image credit: JULIE BUSCH photo

Spartans have tough draws in their matches, while Lyons is ready for the girls invitational.

It’s the biggest and brightest tournament in the state.

And the busiest.

“There’s about six different matches going for each classification,” Brian Robert said.

“It’s a completely different situation than a regular tournament,” fellow senior Ian Brooks said. “It’s perfectly organized, though.”

“But there’s a lot riding on the matches,” Robert said. “Coaches can get out of hand and argue with the refs.”

Don’t forget parents, fans and anyone else who travels to the Mat Classic every year to cheer for their favorites.

The 18th edition, held at the Tacoma Dome yesterday and today, is one of the most popular state tournaments aside from football and basketball.

Four Bainbridge wrestlers qualifed for the tournament, while Anna Lyons was chosen for the girls invitational.

It’s her second time participating in the invitational, as she wrestles in a round-robin style with three other female wrestlers in her weight group.

Last year, she finished third.

“It (last year) was OK, but I expect better this year,” she said.

The senior struggled this year wrestling at 130 despite dropping 5 pounds.

“I’m hoping to go out on a good note,” she said. “I should get first in my weight group.”

Also hoping to go out on a good note are seniors Robert and Brooks.

But both are in tough quarter brackets.

Brooks faced off against Leif Woldseth from Franklin Pierce in the 152-pound category, while Robert got Reid Chivers, a highly touted freshman out of Bellingham in the 160-pound category.

“My first round guy barely lost to one of the top guys (in the state) by a point,” Robert said. “He’s supposed to be really tough and there’s a lot of talk about him in the papers.”

If Robert gets past him, he’ll have the challenge of his life – facing off against three-time state champion Brandon Sitch from Kelso, who is favored by many to make it four in a row this year.

“It’s kinda bad luck on my part,” he said.

If Brooks gets past his man, he’ll take on number one seed Derek Driscoll from W.F. West out of Chehalis.

Both are still hobbled by injuries, but co-head coach Britton Johnson said Brooks is “95 percent” and Robert is “80 percent” going into this weekend.

“I wish Brian and Ian were a little healthier,” he said. “They’re a couple of maniacs on the mat.”

Freshman Eli Narte and sophomore Matt Ritualo don’t have it any easier.

At 103 pounds, Narte draws Black Hills freshman Jim Belleville, who is ranked number one in their weight class.

Ritualo takes on Mount Si’s Kyle Heath at 119 pounds. If he made it past him, he’ll have to deal with Josh Berkenmeier from R.A. Long and Sedro Woolley’s Derek Crouther, last year’s state champ and a favorite to repeat.

Johnson feels they’ll still be tough.

“Matthew’s goal this year was to just get to State,” he said. “Now his new goal is to try and place.

“Eli gets the number one guy in the state, but he’s excited,” he said. “I said, ‘You need to go in there with a good attitude and see how long you can last.’

“Freshman are usually fearless anyways.”

The tournament runs all day today, starting at 10 a.m.

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