Three Blaine wrestlers finish top 5 at Mat Classic XXXV


Boys Wrestling

The Blaine boys wrestling program didn’t come away with the state championship it wanted, but still saw fantastic efforts from the eight boys it sent to the Mat Classic XXXV on February 16 and 17 at the Tacoma Dome.

The Borderites finished with a team score of 42.0, placing 11th in a stacked 1A field, right behind 10th place Northwest Conference rival Mount Baker.

Senior Victor Gervol earned third place in his final day of high school wrestling, capping off a stellar career with his third consecutive podium finish at the state tournament.

Gervol, who was battling an injured AC joint in his left shoulder throughout the postseason according to head coach Tom Hinz, won his first match by a 4-1 decision, lost his quarterfinal match, then won his final two to earn a third place podium finish. Gervol began wrestling his sophomore year, and earned a top-three state finish in his 285-pound, 1A division all three years.

The end of his senior year postseason was bittersweet for Gervol, who entered the state tournament with a 36-1 record and district and regional championships under his belt. But Hinz knows this is just the beginning for Gervol’s career, as the young wrestler is now slated to play collegiately at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, B.C.

“This isn’t the end of the story,” Hinz said. “This is just where he placed his senior year. He battled and he’s happy where he got … third place is something to be super proud of.”

Fellow senior Cal Fitzgerald also made it to the second day of wrestling, finishing 4th in the 144-pound weight class. Fitzgerald won his first four matches of the Mat Classic before finally falling to third place finisher Jessie Garcia of Omak. Blaine heavyweight junior Otto Shelton also had a great postseason cut short, running into eventual state champion Anthony Nava of Toppenish in his second round, unable to make day two of the tournament.

The Borderites cut its teeth with a tough regular season schedule, going up against higher-classification 2A teams all season long, and tough 1A opponents like Mount Baker and state 12th-place finishers Cascade Christian multiple times throughout the year. Hinz said that constant, high level of competition, combined with sending so many wrestlers to the high-pressure environment of the Mat Classic this postseason puts his team in a great position to get even better.

“For our younger guys, it’s really hard to go down there no matter if you’ve seen it before or not – to actually wrestle under the pressure of it all,” Hinz said of the Tacoma Dome environment. “The fact that we have five guys returning that are state participants I think is huge.”

The eleven seniors departing will certainly be hard to replace, but Hinz said the team culture is where it needs to be to continue at this high standard.

“I think we have a really good team that’s returning,” Hinz said. “I’m definitely going to miss the senior class, but what we’re refilling with is a bunch of really good kids and a really good atmosphere and family feel in the locker room.”

Girls Wrestling

The Blaine girls wrestling squad sent three wrestlers, Lucy Dahl, Makenna Lausier and Claire Hume, to the Mat Classic XXXV at the Tacoma Dome on February 16, with the senior captain Dahl leading the charge with a stellar fifth-place finish in the 145-pound, 1B/2B/1A/2A division.

Dahl was given an extremely tough road through her tournament bracket, facing eventual state champion Makayla Torres of Toppenish in just her second round. Torres, who was originally classified in the 155-pound division but dropped down, and Dahl should have been the first place match, according to Blaine head coach Damon Higgins, but massive tournaments like the Mat Classic often don’t work out that way.

“[Torres] is a formidable opponent, and the two of them clashed,” Higgins said of the semifinal bout. “It was like two rams when they rear up and slam their heads together. When they collided, that image is stuck in my mind, just two giant titans slamming together.”

Facing the toughest opponent in the 145-pound bracket, Dahl made a critical mistake and allowed Torres to counter a half chokehold, losing control and getting pinned by the eventual state champion in under a minute.

Dahl lost her next match, then recovered – “back to the old Lucy,” as Higgins put it – to win her final, fifth-place match via pin, earning Blaine’s only 15.0 team points. Hume did not compete due to her alternate status, and Lausier lost twice on the first day of the tournament.

Higgins said that while the pressure of a massive state tournament under the bright lights of the Tacoma Dome can always be a psychological challenge for young athletes to overcome, it’s also a massive learning opportunity.

“The pressure of the Mat Classic for a brand new wrestler that has never been there before is daunting,” Higgins said. “Every sense that you have is on fire. From the noise to the visual sights to the feel of it, if you are not prepared for state and your coach hasn’t done something to prepare you for state, it’s a huge task.”

Higgins went on to say that while the bright lights can be a distraction for some, that wasn’t the problem for team captain Dahl. She simply ran into the toughest girl in the entire bracket.

“I don’t want to take a single thing away from [second place finisher Kaylie Baker of South Whidbey] because she got there,” Higgins said. “We saw the true finals early.” 


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here