Two Northshore School District kids won state championships at wrestling’s Mat Classic XXV, something that had never happened before in the history of the meet, according to all the know-it-alls.
Bothell senior Brandon Davidson overwhelmed his opponent and finished with a quick pin at 152 pounds — the first Cougar to win a state title since his big brother Justin did it in 2004.
Then about an hour later, Woodinville junior Ryan Christensen outclassed and outworked his guy 4-1, nearly pitching a shutout, to bring home the state title at 182.
It was a coronation for the popular red-headed kid who finished second in state as a sophomore, then won the way more prestigious national championship in elite competition last summer. The youngster was asked where this moment stacked up to all he’s accomplished in the sport so far.
“I’d say this isn’t as big a deal as nationals, but high school is special,” he said. “And it means something extra because I’m the second one now (Kyle Komata won Woodinville’s first state title in 2009).”
Christensen, long and lean, said there was a time he wasn’t even sure he’d be a high school Falcon back around the 8th-grade when there was some family consideration of him transferring to a state wrestling power.
“I spent a lot of time thinking about it and decided Woodinville was where I wanted to be, as opposed to going somewhere else and just being another guy that wins state, if I did.But I wanted to help change the program at Woodinville.”
In the finals versus Central Valley’s Tanner Davis, a big burly guy at 182, Christensen took a quick 3-0 lead, despite three timeouts called for his bloody nose.
Then he worked his superior technique, even muscling up on his opponent when he needed to.
“Yeah, he’s a pretty strong guy. I was trying to use my quickness but he kinda got locked up on me.”
Ryan, stronger than he looks, dominated Davis throughout, allowing only one point when he gave one up on an escape to get away, with the victory in the bag.
Said coach Shaker Culpepper: “He wrestled a smart match as Tanner did a good job of tying his arm up, trying to counter what Ryan does best. But Ryan’s so quick and fluid and stronger than you think. You just gotta win and Ryan’s a winner, that’s for sure. He deserves it.”
Davidson, meanwhile, who doesn’t smile much naturally, was asked how it felt to be a state champion.
“It feels awesome. All the hard work paid off.”
The Bothell grappler had a grueling overtime win the day before, and a grinder earlier on Saturday, winning 3-1 against a tough opponent, just to make it through to the finals.
Did he feel like he had much left in his tank?
“Oh, man, I had a lot left in my tank. I’ve been training hard for the last few weeks, multiple practices a day, making sure my conditioning was ready for overtime matches.”
How long had he been dreaming about being a state champion?
“Since I was four years old,” he said, with an ear-to-ear grin.
Big brother Justin Davidson, who won the state title nine years earlier for the Cougars at 130 pounds and has coached Brandon since junior high, now an assistant to Bothell head man Scott LaBrash, was asked how sweet it was.
“Unbelievable ... It’s almost better than when I won it. He’s been working so hard and finally got to the finals his senior year, after coming in third last year … We worked extra hard to make sure we got over that hurdle and we did.”
He was asked how good it felt when his little brother jumped into his arms after the match.
And then he teared up.There was nothing more to say.