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Auburn reverses first-round woes to push four wrestlers to Mat Classic
The opening round of the Class 4A Region 3 Wrestling Tournament was unkind to Auburn.
Of the 10 Auburn wrestlers competing for a berth to this weekend's state 4A Mat Classic XXVI championships, only one Trojan – 195-pound junior Sam Lindsay – managed a first-round win.
Despite the poor start, the Trojans recovered to qualify four wrestlers – Lindsay, 285-pound junior Jacob Apodaca, 120-pound sophomore Drew Aplin, and 138-pound sophomore Sjon Snitily – for the state tournament at the Tacoma Dome.
"I was surprised and impressed with the way the Trojan wrestlers fought back," said Trojans coach Dennis Herren. "We went one-for-nine at the beginning, and one of our captains, Mario Luevano, injured his ankle and was forced to withdraw from the tournament. If you lose like that in the first round, it is a long road back.
"Some teams might have given up at this point. Instead, these Auburn wrestlers had a team meeting and rallied back to place six wrestlers in the top six," Herren said. "Drew Aplin and Jacob Apodoca were able to avenge losses versus wrestlers who had beat them in the past. Everyone gave all they had against what proved to be a tough (South Puget Sound League) South."
After losing a 7-6, first-round decision to Rogers' Noah Howell, Apodaca fought his way back in the consolation bracket, pinning Federal Way's Steven Crawford at 4 minutes, 46 seconds, and beating Kentlake's Mason Johnson 8-3.
The victories set up a battle with district rival Larkin Williams of Auburn Riverside for third place. Williams came out on top with a pin at the 2:06 mark, relegating Apodaca to fourth place. He starts his Mat Classic journey at 1:30 p.m. Friday against Central Kitsap junior Dominick Johnson.
Lindsay, who competed at 170 pounds at last year's Mat Classic, defeated Graham-Kapowsin's Tim Amadeo in the first round 8-4, then dropped a 5-2 decision to eventual 195-pound champ Joseph Meyer of Puyallup in the second round.
A loss to Tahoma's Cooper Thomas earned Lindsay a fourth-place finish and a first-round Mat Classic match at 1 p.m. Friday against Lewis and Clark senior Andrew Backlund.
Snitily, who finished fifth at 138, starts Mat Classic with a pigtail match at 9:45 p.m. Friday against Lake Stevens' Zach Cunningham.
Aplin, who finished fourth at the regional meet, takes on Central Valley sophomore Bryson Beard at 10:40 a.m. Friday in the first round at Mat Classic.
Balteer Rana, a 120-pound junior, finished sixth at regionals, as did 160-pound junior Bailey Minnar.
"I am absolutely pleased with this team," Herren said. "They stand out to me. Even when things don't go their way, these wrestlers remain inspired, coachable, respectful, great teammates, mentally tough, resilient, and they try their best. It speaks to what great parents we have supporting these kids."
"Sam Lindsey, Jacob Apodaca, Drew Aplin and Sjon Snitily each have their own individual goals for the 4A Mat Classic this weekend," he said. "These young men didn't get to the Dome by accident. They set these goals months ago, and it represents a lot of discipline and work. Now it boils down to a few six-minute matches and the opportunity to leave it all on the mat."
Mat Classic XXVI starts at 10 a.m. Friday and continues Saturday.
One-day tickets are $15 for adults, $11 for students and seniors. Two-day tickets are $23 for adults, $17 for seniors and students.
For more information, visit www.wiaa.com.
ALSO: Auburn Riverside senior 285-pound Larkin Williams earned a berth to Mat Classic XXVI with a third-place finish at regionals. Williams meets Mariner junior Francisco Flores at 1:30 p.m. Friday.