Coming into the state tournament at the Tacoma Dome, the Woodinville wrestling team enjoyed a lot of firsts.
First time sending five qualifiers.
First time sending three sophomores among them.
Then, after the preliminaries, first time having two guys make the finals.
A large contingent of Falcon wrestling fans sat proudly in the upper deck, wearing the green on Saturday night--much to the appreciation of the coaches.
They’d come to watch 160-pound sophomore phenom Ryan Christensen do battle with the reigning state champion Chandler Rogers of Mead--also a soph.
Both kids were unbeaten at an astonishing 43-0 and anything could happen. It was, to some, the main event.
They’d also come to support 220-pounder Jake Hollister, the well-loved senior co-captain who caught fire down the stretch and earned a shot to become a state champion.
High hopes filled the Dome for Woodinville.
The 160 bout was something to behold, a contrast of styles: Chistensen, long and lean, and Rogers, shorter and stockier, were 86-0 coming in, and Rogers gained an early take-down for two points that tilted the scoreboard. Christensen gained an immediate escape. At the end of one period it was 2-1.
At the end of the second period it was 4-4: two minutes to go to determine the champ.
Rogers gained another takedown with a minute remaining to go up 6-4, then Christensen escaped again to make it 6-5 with 30 seconds left. Rogers, strong in the upper body and with thick legs, managed his way to an 8-7 lead with 10 seconds to go.
Christensen, with the clock winding down, attempted a wild reverse but was denied by the referees-- and Rogers-- to lose 11-7: three late points awarded for a near-fall at the buzzer. The kid took it like a man. Classy all the way in defeat to an absolute stud. Second place at state as a soph, after all, is not too shabby. 43-1.
Maybe 20 minutes later Hollister took the 4A mat against Aaron Davis of Tahoma, an octopus of an athlete who had recorded three straight first round pins coming in.
Jake, perhaps a little off balance early, got caught with a throw up high and was taken down and planted for a pin at 33 seconds. He, too, took it like a man, keeping his chin up. “When the season started my goal was to get to state and stand on the podium,” Hollister said. “So second place isn’t too bad, I guess.”
Christensen, who hadn’t lost a wrestling match since preseason in elite competition, gave the propers to his opponent, while sharing giggles with Woodinville cheerleaders after the show, like a 10th
grader does. The youngster did not appear to be upset with his effort.
“He’s good,” he said of Rogers, now the two-time defending 4A champ at 160. “He’s strong. I thought I wrestled pretty well, I don’t really have any regrets, though I wish I had maybe scored more early... I’ve wrestled him a lot and we’re pretty good friends outside of wrestling so..it goes back and forth...so we’ll see how it goes next time.”
Said Rogers: “I’ve wrestled Ryan for like six years since we were kids and it’s gone back and forth. We’ve done it all, he makes me wrestle my best and we’ll be meeting again, for sure. This was the toughest match I’ve had all year.”
And there it was.