By JAMES EIK
Cheney wrestlers will have some strong representation this weekend in Tacoma as six members of the team advanced to Mat Classic XXV.
The team had seven wrestlers represented at the regionals tournament, with only freshman Devon Waterman unable to secure a spot at state in a tough final match.
“Taking seven kids and getting six to state was about as good as we could hope for going into the tourney,” head coach Wade Schlotter said in an email.
The six wrestlers going to state are junior Vern Sanderson (145), junior Josh Wessels (160), senior Sam Pegg (170), senior Eli Mason (182), senior Cameron Schlotter (195) and senior Zac Corean (285). Mason is the sole first place wrestler, with Schlotter and Corean taking second place in their weight class. Pegg, Wessels and Sanderson battled their way to a fourth-place finish.
“Zac (Corean) wrestled a great tourney to get himself back to the state tourney,” Schlotter said. “He was a state participant two years ago.”
The resilience of wrestlers after their hard work this season was noted throughout the regional tournament. One of those continuing to do well, Schlotter said, was Pegg.
“In the match to go to state Sam (Pegg) was down early and then was put to his back in the third period. Sam was able to maneuver himself to bridge through and put the Othello wrestler on his back,” he said. “When it looked like he was going to come up short, Sam found a way to pull out a huge win to pave his way to state.”
In his path to state, Mason pinned or technically fell all of his opponents at the regional tournament.
“He pinned Chandler Knight of Colville in the finals,” Schlotter said. “Eli’s the No. 1 ranked wrestler in the state and wrestled like it this weekend.”
Sanderson got things rolling very quickly, helping to set the pace for the tournament. Schlotter said the 145 pound weight class is one of the more difficult ones, and this year was no exception.
“Vern had a great tournament. He won his first match (12-11) against a very tough wrestler from Othello, Eric Garza,” he said.
The weekend turned out to be a very positive one for Cheney wrestling, and it’s hoped the momentum carries forward to Tacoma.
“I feel all six of the wrestlers we’re taking to state can earn a state medal. A couple of the first round matchups are tough, but I think our kids have shown they can wrestle well through consolations,” Schlotter said. “Our goal is to come back with six state medals.”
James Eik can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.