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Jacob Smith is a state wrestling champion

Nichols takes third


Jacob Smith raises his hands in victory after winning the 113-pound championship title match at the state tournament. - Brittany Cozza photos

Lake Roosevelt senior Jacob Smith led his three Raider wrestling teammates at the state tournament last weekend, coming home with the gold medal at 113 pounds and a place in the books as a state champion. And freshman Tony Nichols took the bronze in the 132-pound bracket.

It was Smith's second medal from the big Mat Classic in Tacoma; last year he placed fourth at 113. En route to the championship, Smith pinned Joe Thompson of Illwaco and Gerardo Rios-Lopez of Kittitas. Then in the finals match Smith faced Randy Dixon of Mary Walker (Springdale) who, like Smith, was a number-one seed.

With the four wrestlers, the Raiders finished ninth overall in team points.

"All four of the wrestlers won matches," noted Head Coach Steve Hood. "We have had a good season, and with only one senior this year we are expecting this year's success to continue to grow next season."

Smith's championship match was close, and exciting, and decided by one point, 6-5.

"Dixon scored a takedown late in the first round to lead 2-0," Hood recounts. "Jacob cradled Dixon in the second for a three-point near fall to lead 3-2. Then Dixon scored an escape and takedown and had a 5-3 lead at the end of the second round."

Smith chose to start the last round in the down position. He scored a point with an escape, then later in the round took Dixon down for another two points and the 6-5 win for the championship.

Smith joins the ranks of state champion Raider wrestlers and will have his gold placard placed on the wall of the mat room for future Raiders to see.

Tony Nichols, in his first Mat Classic, almost made it to the championship round. Nichols pinned Corbin Balzer of Adna and Chris Jones of Colfax to set up a semifinals match with Trevor Peterson of Tonasket. Senior Peterson's experience showed as he defeated the LR freshman 6-1 in overtime.

"The match was tied 1-1 at the end of the regulation, both wrestlers scoring an escape," Hood said. "The match went to overtime, and Peterson scored a takedown and near fall for the win." Peterson went on to win his second state championship at 132 pounds.

Nichols was determined to take home a medal and showed his resolve by pinning Graham Rocha of Northwest Christian to set up a match to determine third and fourth place with Matthew Slape of Adna. Nichols won the decision 8-3 over Slape, a number-one seed to the state matches. With his third-place finish at 132 in his freshman year, Nichols will be looking to be a four-year state placer when his last match in the Tacoma Dome comes around his senior season.

Kaleb Horn, at 106, gained state experience that will carry over to next year. Horn did not medal, but did pin Riley Fichter of Concrete and won with a technical fall over Garrett Phillips of Colfax.

"Kaleb has had a good freshman year," Hood said. "He was one win short of placing." Next year, Horn will be looking to return to the Tacoma Dome in whatever weight class he is wrestling at and be hungry for a medal.

Renford Sanchez faced some tough competition at the 220 bracket. After being pinned by Bryden Olmstead of Concrete, Sanchez rebounded with a pin over Luke Hamilton. Sanchez needed another win to get a chance at a medal, but Jake Harrington, of Liberty-Spangle, had other ideas.

Sanchez finishes a great season with a district championship and more experience that will help him next year as he goes for a state medal.

Smith wrestles Randy Dixon in the title match.

Hood shared some statistics compiled by Brandon Walsh, the head coach of Almira-Coulee-Hartline. It shows that wrestlers from Eastern Washington continue to dominate in the B wrestling. Stats that break down the wrestlers region by region show the Central Washington Region did very well at state, with 35 of 74 state placers, 12 of the 28 finalists and seven of the 14 state champions. The state champion and runner up also came from the Central Washington Region (Warden and Tonasket).

Earlier in the week, the Central Washington Wrestling League announced its all-league selections. Smith and Sanchez were named to the first team. Kaleb Horn and Tony Nichols were honored with second team selections. Trevor Circle, who came very close to qualifying for state, was named to the honorable mention list.

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