Viking Wrestlers Win 9th State Championship
There was never much drama in the team title race at this year’s Mat Classic. In the first round of the state tournament, the Lake Stevens Wrestling team jumped to a 20 point lead, and they never looked back.
After the last match on the last day of Wrestling, a victory by Lake Stevens’s Brandon Johnson for the heavyweight championship, the Vikings led Tahoma 162-120, taking home their fifth team title in seven years and scoring the second-most state points in team history.
Along with Johnson, brothers Michael and Eric Soler also took home individual championships. Michael, a freshman Wrestling at 106, controlled Moses Lake’s Trey Long from the start of the match, winning the title by a score of 8-3.
Eric Soler, despite missing the first part of the season with an injury, put together an impressive list of accomplishments dating back to last year’s Mat Classic, where he beat two defending state champions to win his first state championship. This season he was the only person to beat North Kitsap’s Jake Velarde, who won his fourth 2A state championship on Saturday.
Soler’s only loss this season was to Graham Kapowsin’s Ian Steen, another defending state champion. Soler beat Steen 8-4 at a tournament, but a week later was pinned by Steen at a dual meet. The rematch between Soler and Steen was one of the most anticipated matches of the night, and it lived up to expectations. Soler, trailing Steen 2-1 late in the third round, scored a reversal to take a 3-2 lead, and held on for the match’s closing seconds to win his second state title.
Along with their three champions, Lake Stevens had 6 other placers: at 106, freshman A.J. Crew took fourth, after losing in the semi-finals to the eventual runner-up. At 120, freshman Jake Douglas was pinned in the semi-finals while rolling over his own back to try to pin his opponent, but he came back to place fourth.
At 138 pounds, senior Jesse Peterson took fifth after a disappointing quarter-finals loss to the eventual runner-up. Peterson pinned his opponent in his fifth-sixth place match. Senior Blake Sanders won several close matches on his way to placing seventh at 160 pounds, including a late takedown in the seventh-eighth place match to secure the victory.
At 172 pounds, sophomore Cody Vigoren had the unfortunate luck of running into Mead’s Chandler Rogers in the semi-finals. Rogers, a junior, pinned all of his opponents, including Vigoren, on his way to winning his third state championship. Vigoren came back to finish fourth. Lake Stevens’s Shaquille Reed lost a close match in the semi-finals at 220 pounds but won his next match to take fourth place.
At heavyweight, Brandon Johnson’s victory for the state championship was the final victory in his undefeated season--an impressive feat, considering the schedule Lake Stevens wrestlers face. Johnson’s accomplishments this season included pinning his way through the Tri-State tournament and going 6-0 at The Clash duals in Minnesota.
Although the Vikings will lose an impressive senior class to graduation--the older Soler and Johnson along with placers Jesse Peterson, Shaq Reed and Blake Sanders--they had the best underclassmen performance out of any 4A school at the state tournament. Three freshmen and a sophomore placed in the top four, and two other underclassmen qualified but did not place. Throw in several returning juniors and a solid base of talent in the Wrestling room, and the Vikings seem well-equipped for the next few years.
Champions: 106lbs Michael Soler, 145lbs Eric Soler, 285lbs Brandon Johnson, 4th Place Finish:, 106lbs AJ Crew, 120lbs Jake Douglas, 170lbs Cody Vigoren, 220lbs Shaq Reed. 5th Place Finish: 138lbs Jesse Peterson. 7th Place Finish: Blake Sander