Yusef Nelson and Cole Washburn couldn’t hide their disappointment.
Tough losses on the 4A state wrestling championship stage are difficult to swallow.
Nelson, Auburn Riverside’s 113-pound junior, and Washburn, Auburn’s 170-pound senior, were denied gold at Mat Classic XXX in the Tacoma Dome on Saturday.
Aizayah Yacapin, Curtis’ heralded sophomore and nationally ranked lightweight, used a three-point near fall in the third period to defeat Nelson 5-2 in the finals.
Washburn had South Kitsap senior Mason Eaglin in trouble in the second round but came up short 6-5 after his opponent’s two-point near fall stood up in a late final-round scramble.
For Nelson, it was difficult ending to a great run. The regional and league champion, who was seventh at state last year, was a runner-up at the Tri-State showdown in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, earlier this season.
“I’m disappointed. He was really good,” said Nelson, who finished the season 35-3. “This just motivates me to get my title next year.”
With the match tied 2-2, Yacapin took control, riding Nelson from the up position to begin the third two-minute round. Yacapin turned Nelson on his back, but the Raven refused to be pinned in the final minute.
“He (Nelson) had just got an escape (in the first round) and looked pretty good on the bottom, so we figured it was the right decision to go down (to begin the third round),” said Auburn Riverside coach Kyle Jones. “His opponent just happened to have the right move at the right time and caught us.
“Super proud of the way (Nelson) wrestled and the effort he gave,” Jones said. “It took a lot of heart to fight him off on his back, instead of getting pinned.”
Washburn, the league and regional champion who was third at state a year ago, had Eaglin tied up and gasping with a near-cradle grip in the second round that gave the Trojan back points and a 3-2 lead. But Eaglin’s late second-period reversal gave him the 4-3 advantage going into the final period. The title was up for grabs until Eaglin’s two-point near fall offset Washburn’s reversal in the final minute.
For Auburn Riverside, senior Kenny Miller (160 pounds) and junior Will Russell (220) became first-time state placers by finishing eighth.
“It was a really cool day for them,” Jones said. “They really wrestled well. I was really happy for them.”
For Auburn Mountainview, Russell Hanson finished fourth at 138 pounds, Jabril Muhammad took seventh at 126 and Noah Koester was eighth at 132.