SPOKANE — The Wenatchee Valley will be all over the Tacoma Dome next weekend.
Ten local wrestlers advanced past Saturday’s regional tournament at Central Valley High School and will be in the 4A bracket of next weekend’s Mat Classic state tournament in Tacoma.
“We’re taking five and Wenatchee is taking five (to state), so (Wenatchee coach) Ed (Valdez) has a lot to be proud of, and so do I,” Eastmont coach Ken Hoyt said. “And look at our league — Moses Lake wins it, Wenatchee is fifth and we’re sixth. I’d say our league represented really well, and our valley represented really well.”
Wenatchee finished fifth place overall with 112 points and finished the meet with two regional champions — seniors Kyle Lesmeister (220 pounds) and Ignacio Molinero (285). Lesmeister recorded three pins in three matches and Molinero recorded three more victories to improve his unblemished record to 9-0 on the season.
Molinero spent the season condiditioning and peaked at the right time, reaching a comfortable weight to compete at, and Lesmeister is set to make his second straight trip to state.
“That just means that (Lesmeister’s) wrestling at the top of his game right before a state tournament,” Valdez said. “It’s just another tournament, but everybody’s tough. He’s going to have to keep improving this week. I think we had these guys ready.”
Kris Garrett (138) lost an 8-6 decision in the semifinals, but bounced back and won back-to-back decisions to finish third in his weight class.
Ryan Osterlund (285) lost a tough 4-3 decision in his first match, but also managed a third-place finish by recording consecutive pins.
Alberto Montes DeOca (126) won a gutsy 1-0 match to qualify for state and finished fourth in his weight class.
Seniors Zack Paro (182) and Isaiah VanWeerdhuizen (195) finished fifth and will make the trip as alternates.
Valdez was elated with his team’s overall performance, but knows the work isn’t done yet.
“We just have to get them ready one more weekend, he said. “You can’t be satisfied because you’re going to state, you have to place, you have to reach your goals.”
Eastmont claimed sixth place with 87 points, led by undefeated 106-pounder Fabian Wickham’s regional championship.
Wickham knocked off Moses Lake’s Trey Long 6-1 in the title match, a rematch of last week’s district finals.
“I thought (Wickham) wrestled better in the finals this week than last week,” Hoyt said. “I thought this was a good learning week going into state.”
Kyle Hoffman (195) and Darin Hardgrove (170) both endured tough semifinal matchups before falling in their title contests. Hoffman fell 4-0 to Moses Lake’s Jordan Lacelle in a reversal of districts, while Hardgrove was pinned in the second period by Mead’s Chandler Rogers, a two-time state and national champion.
Hoyt said Christian Hernandez, who claimed third place at 132 pounds, was the “surprise of the day.”
“He wrestled inspired. I can’t say enough about how well he did. That was easily his best day of the year.”
Camden Wheatcroft added a fourth-place finish at 152 pounds to qualify for state.
“That was one of my happier moments of the millennium, Camden Wheatcroft making it to state,” Hoyt said. “With all the work he’s put in the last four years, (it’s nice for him) to finally made it to state.”
The Wildcats brought six wrestlers to regionals, and all six will be present at Mat Classic, including 220-pound alternate Dylan Fechner.
“You show up with six kids and you’re taking all six to state — that’s a good day,” Hoyt said. “Three in the finals, one third, one fourth and one fifth — that’s an awfully good day.”