On Saturday the Lake Stevens High School wrestling team started the year off with a 31-24 victory over Tahoma, the defending state 4A champions, in a dual meet that came down to the last match of the night.
Lake Stevens relied on freshman talent, close wins, and an overall team effort to win the tight contest between two of the state’s powerhouse wrestling programs.
The turning point in the meet was the 126-pound match between Lake Stevens freshman Jake Douglas and Tahoma’s Tim Whitehead, a senior who finished second at state last year.
Douglas got an early takedown in the first round and a reversal in the second round, taking a 4-0 lead into the third round. When Douglas hung on to win 7-4, Lake Stevens fans went wild—not only was this a huge victory for the freshman, but it gave Lake Stevens crucial team points going into the final three matches.
“That felt amazing,” Douglas said. “It helped the team out, and it was awesome that we won the meet.”
Douglas was one of four freshmen wrestling varsity for Lake Stevens. Many of the younger Lake Stevens wrestlers have come through the Pin City wrestling club, a youth wrestling program coached by Burke Barnes, a four-time state champion and son of Lake Stevens head coach Brent Barnes.
Twin brothers AJ and Ruben Crew, both freshmen, won their respective matches at 106 and 113 with a pin and a major decision, giving Lake Stevens ten total team points.
In close dual meets, keeping losses close and avoiding pins is just as important as winning matches. Against third-place state finisher Garrett Autrey, Lake Stevens sophomore Cody Vigoren got a third-round takedown to avoid a major decision and only give up three team points.
All of this set up the deciding final match at 145 pounds. Lake Stevens led the team score by four points, which meant that senior Keenan Thomas could ensure a Lake Stevens victory if he lost by less than eight points. But Thomas did more than that, coming back from a two-point deficit to win the match 5-2 and seal the win for Lake Stevens.
The meet with Tahoma was part of a double dual that also featured Rogers and Snohomish. Lake Stevens beat Rogers 70-6, while Snohomish beat Rogers 66-6 and lost to Tahoma 38-16. Lake Stevens wrestles Snohomish Jan. 22 in a Wesco league match.