Lake Stevens wrestling claims second consecutive state title
Most people suspected that this year's 4A Wrestling state-title race would be close, but no one knew it would end in such dramatic fashion.
Going into the final round of the tournament, Lake Stevens had a 12.5 point lead over second-place Moses Lake, a lead that was cut to 6.5 points after the all-Moses Lake final at 106 pounds. At 113 pounds, Moses Lake's Fernando Leyva would face off against Lake Stevens's Michael Soler. If Leyva could defeat Soler, the team title would still be within Moses Lake's reach.
Soler, a sophomore and a returning state champion, had lost only one match at 113 pounds this season – to Leyva at the MatMan Classic in January.
In the state finals match, Soler scored a takedown early in the first round, but gave up several points on the mat to trail 5-3 late in the third period.
Soler scored an escape, but as the wrestlers went out of bounds with ten seconds left Soler still trailed 5-4. After the wrestlers restarted at the center of the mat, Soler shot on Leyva and quickly took him down to take a 6-5 lead as time expired.
Lake Stevens had two more finalists, senior Noah Cuzzetto at 138 pounds and junior Cody Vigoren at 195 pounds.
Cuzzetto, a two-time state champion, faced Union High School's Junior Godinho in the finals. After a takedown each and several close scrambles, Cuzzetto and Godinho were tied at the end of regulation time.
In overtime, Cuzzetto shot at Godinho's legs, but as he advanced Godihno threw him to his back to win the match. Cuzzetto will wrestle next year for St. Cloud State, one of the top-ranked Division II Wrestling teams.
At 195 pounds, Vigoren made it look easy. After scoring a takedown in the first round, Vigoren started on top in the second round and quickly turned and pinned his opponent.
After finishing fourth at state in 2013, Vigoren had a dominant season this year, winning the prestigious Doc Buchanan tournament in California and losing only once, in the Tri-State finals to Hermiston's Samuel Colbray, ranked 12th nationally. Vigoren's state championship gave Lake Stevens a final team score of 133, with Moses Lake finishing with 116.5.
Soler's championship victory put the team title away mathematically, but it was Viking efforts earlier in the tournament that gave them a lead they never let go of.
In the tournament's first round, Lake Stevens junior Garret Gershmel, who placed fourth at regionals at 120 pounds, beat regional champion JJ Tavalera from Union High School 8-5, earning crucial team points early on.
At 138 pounds, Lake Stevens senior Zach Cunningham didn't even officially qualify for the tournament until Friday morning.
After placing fifth at regionals, Cunningham had to wrestle another region's fifth-place finisher for a spot in the tournament. Cunningham won that match, but then lost to top-seed Tommy Strassenberg from Union High School.
Cunningham won one more match and then defeated Yelm's Tanner Page, the regional champion from his own region, to place top eight.
The Vikings sent six wrestlers to the semifinals, but left the door open for Moses Lake when they only sent three on to the finals. Soler, Cuzzetto and Vigoren all advanced easily, while the other three Lake Stevens semifinalists had heartbreaking losses.
At 120 pounds, junior Alex Rodorigo led going into the third round against Central Valley's Bryson Beard, but then gave up a takedown to lose 4-3.
At 126 pounds, Lake Stevens' sophomore Jake Douglas led 3-2 late in the third period against Tahoma's Cruz Velazquez, but a controversial stall call gave Velazquez a point to send the match into overtime, where Douglas lost.
At 160 pounds, Lake Stevens senior Logan Johnson, while in the process of turning his opponent to his back, was given another controversial stall call, resetting the wrestlers to their starting positions.
Johnson still led going into the third period, but was turned to his back and pinned with a minute remaining.
Those three wrestlers, along with Cunningham and 113-pound junior Tyler Headland, all won matches in the consolation bracket to give Lake Stevens that 12.5-point lead over Moses Lake going into the finals.
This was Lake Stevens' 10th State Team Championship, sixth in the last eight years.
113lbs Michael Soler
195lbs Cody Vigoren
132lbs Noah Cuzzetto
120lbs Alex Rodorigo
160lbs Logan Johnson
126lbs Jake Douglas
7th Place Finish
113lbs Tyler Headland
138lbs Zach Cunningham