Auburn Riverside’s Jaden Cassel tries to turn Sunnyside’s E.J. Villanueva during their 113-pound championship bout at Mat Classic XXXI in the Tacoma Dome on Saturday. Villanueva prevailed, 7-2. RACHEL CIAMPI, Auburn Riverside.

Auburn Riverside’s Jaden Cassel tries to turn Sunnyside’s E.J. Villanueva during their 113-pound championship bout at Mat Classic XXXI in the Tacoma Dome on Saturday. Villanueva prevailed, 7-2. RACHEL CIAMPI, Auburn Riverside.

Ravens survive a difficult, supersized state field

Four Auburn Riverside wrestlers place; Lions’ Hanson takes fifth | PHOTOS

Unpredictable and unforgiving, steady and rewarding, the high school state wrestling championship offers a little bit of everything.

Auburn Riverside coach Kyle Jones knows as much.

The Ravens, having won three consecutive 4A North Puget Sound League Olympic Division dual and tournament titles, ran into expected challenges at a grinding, expanded Mat Classic XXXI at the Tacoma Dome on Saturday.

Some wrestlers floundered, others flourished.

“We wrestled OK today,” Jones said. “I wished we could have been in the top 10, but the 32-man bracket kinda screwed that up a little bit. We missed out on points, but we did a really good job. I’m proud of our team.”

The WIAA doubled the draw for each weight class, a move necessitated after a major snowstorm wiped out last week’s regional tournaments. Larger fields meant more bouts that stretched the plans of coaches, tested the patience of fans and pushed the performances of wrestlers at a prolonged mat show played out well into the night.

Auburn Riverside, like other teams, adjusted and came away with mixed results.

Jaden Cassel, a 113-pound junior and the Ravens’ lone finalist, came up short to Sunnyside freshman E.J. Villanueva, 7-2.

Cassel, the NPSL Olympic champion, scored a reversal to close to within 3-2 after the first period. Cassel, choosing the down position to open the second round, couldn’t break away from Villanueva’s grasp and fell behind 5-2. Villanueva, who opted to begin the third period in the neutral, standing position, took down Cassel in the closing minute to secure the title.

The bout ended with Villanueva sticking an elbow into the back of Cassel’s neck. An angry Cassel stormed off the mat, refusing to shake hands with Villanueva but congratulating Sunnyside coaches. Villanueva’s antics cost his team a point.

“He was talking to me at the end of the match,” an emotional Cassel said afterward, “but he shouldn’t have done that.”

Cassel nonetheless lauded Villanueva’s persistence.

“He’s tough … (applies) a lot of pressure,” Cassel said. “He’s good.”

The disappointing finish capped a solid season for Cassel, who vows to return stronger next year.

“I have to keep working, come back better,” he said. “I don’t want to leave (anything on the mat). I want to dominate next year.”

Other Raven fortunes

Cassel’s sparring partner, 120-pound senior Yusef Nelson, a state runner-up at 113 pounds last season, advanced to the quarterfinals, where he dropped a 12-6 decision to Lake Stevens’ Matthew Johnson. Nelson then met elimination after an 8-4 setback to Davis’ Elijah Acevedo in consolation.

“It was real hard for him to rally. He ran into a very tough kid in the quarterfinals,” Jones said. “I wouldn’t change anything. He just got upset in the quarters and couldn’t rally back. It didn’t quite work the way we wanted. … He’s had a pretty incredible career.”

Nelson is one of only three wrestlers to place at state three times in Auburn Riverside program history. Past state champions Eric Jones and Mike Mangrum were the other two wrestlers to do it.

Auburn Riverside had three other place-winners. Eyvar Robles finished fourth at 285 pounds, Ethan Pedro was fifth at 195, and Will Russell finished eighth at 220.

Robles, a senior, and Pedro, an unranked junior, advanced to the semifinals before winding up in the consolation rounds. Russell, who finished eighth at state last year, competed with a limited, sore right shoulder.

“We knew (Pedro) was coming on at the right time, but to get fifth at 195, he did just an incredible job,” Jones said. “And Will Russell? He basically placed at state with one arm. … Robles has been a big giant, a top kid for us all year at heavyweight. We knew he had a chance to make some noise and to get fourth place in a real good heavyweight division, he really did a great job.”

Lion roars back

Auburn Mountainview senior Brennen Hanson recovered from a tough 4-3 semifinal loss to Kentwood’s Alex Long to finish fifth at 152 pounds.

Hanson took a 3-0 lead after two periods, then rode Puyallup’s Jace Coulter in the final two minutes to deliver a 6-0 decision in the fifth-place match, capping a solid 36-3 season.

“I’m glad I could finish on a high note with a win,” said Hanson, who finished fourth at state at 138 pounds last season.

Notes

Auburn Riverside finished 13th in the team chase, 2½ points out of the top 10. Chiawana of Pasco ran away with the 4A team title. … Of Auburn’s eight wrestlers who competed at state, seven were able to win at least one match at the tournament. Six of those eight wrestlers – and three of four state alternates – are expected to return next year for the Trojans. … The state finals, originally scheduled to start at 5 p.m. Saturday, went off at 7:45. … More than 2,400 wrestlers from six classifications competed over the weekend.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@auburn-reporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.auburn-reporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

Auburn Riverside’s Will Russell rides Mead of Spokane’s Trace Franks during their 220-pound consolation match at Mat Classic XXXI. Russel eliminated Franks, 8-4, and later finished eighth in the tournament. RACHEL CIAMPI, Auburn Riverside.

Auburn Riverside’s Will Russell rides Mead of Spokane’s Trace Franks during their 220-pound consolation match at Mat Classic XXXI. Russel eliminated Franks, 8-4, and later finished eighth in the tournament. RACHEL CIAMPI, Auburn Riverside.

Auburn Mountainview senior Brennen Hanson, right, battles Puyallup’s Jace Coulter. Hanson scored a 6-0 decision to finish fifth at 152 pounds. RACHEL CIAMPI, Auburn Riverside.

Auburn Mountainview senior Brennen Hanson, right, battles Puyallup’s Jace Coulter. Hanson scored a 6-0 decision to finish fifth at 152 pounds. RACHEL CIAMPI, Auburn Riverside.

Auburn Riverside heavyweight Eyvar Robles takes on Gonzaga Prep’s Darius Johnson during their bout for third place at Mat Classic XXXI. Johnson won, 3-1. RACHEL CIAMPI, Auburn Riverside.

Auburn Riverside heavyweight Eyvar Robles takes on Gonzaga Prep’s Darius Johnson during their bout for third place at Mat Classic XXXI. Johnson won, 3-1. RACHEL CIAMPI, Auburn Riverside.

Auburn Riverside’s 195-pound Ethan Pedro, top, wrestles Chiawana of Pasco’s Isaiah Anderson during their semifinal match. Anderson won by a third-period fall. Pedro wound up fifth in the weight class. RACHEL CIAMPI, Auburn Riverside.

Auburn Riverside’s 195-pound Ethan Pedro, top, wrestles Chiawana of Pasco’s Isaiah Anderson during their semifinal match. Anderson won by a third-period fall. Pedro wound up fifth in the weight class. RACHEL CIAMPI, Auburn Riverside.

More in Sports

Former Seattle Sounders Lamar Neagle to coach Federal Way Football Club

Federal Way native looks forward to “giving back to the community that helped raise me.”

Doctor IDs safety measures for youth team sports practices

Before practice begins, parents must understand COVID-19 protective protocols

Pictured: A Mercer Island High School swimmer competes in fall 2019. Washington Interscholastic Activities Association recently announced the girls swim and dive season will be moved to “Season 3,” which begins March 1. File photo
WIAA gives schools option to delay start of prep sports until December

An updated plan moves girls swimming to Season 3 and makes fall cross country an alternate season.

Stock photo
King County announces $600K in grants for youth sports

On July 27, King County announced the recipients of the 2020 Youth… Continue reading

The Todd Beamer Titans football team in Federal Way during a 2019 summer practice. File photo
WIAA modifies prep sports calendar; football moved to spring

Washington’s high school athletics governing body announced its revised plans for the… Continue reading

WIAA delays start dates for fall sports

Football practices to begin Sept. 5, all other sports planned for Sept. 7.

Betting surges at Emerald Downs even without fans in grandstands

Mobile, off-track wagering breaks $1 million on opening day

Emerald Downs changes opening day to June 24

Live racing to return at Auburn track but without fans

COURTESY FILE PHOTO, Emerald Downs
Emerald Downs announces revised 2020 stakes schedule

Racing starts June 22; first featured race Aug. 2

Emerald Downs to open for horse racing June 22

No fans initially at Auburn track; fans can wager from home

FILE PHOTO, Brian Liesse, T-Birds
T-Birds issue ticket refunds, exchanges for cancelled games in Kent

17,000 tickets sold for three March contests at ShoWare Center