Worn, tired, bruised and bloodied, AJ Hostak embraced Eastside Catholic head coach Dennis Reddinger Saturday afternoon on the Tacoma Dome floor.
A strong season came to a satisfying end for the 130-pound senior – albeit, not the ending he envisioned.
“My coaches talked to me after I lost the match after the semifinals and said ‘Hey lets go on with a new goal, let’s win the last match of the season,'” Hostak said. “That’s what I had to do and I went out there and did it, so it felt great.”
Hostak, who entered day two of the Mat Classic XXI with two first-round wins and a 31-0 record, finished fifth overall after dropping his first two matches Saturday.
He fought back in his fifth-sixth place 3A match – his third bout in five hours – to beat James Bradley of Yelm, 5-3.
Hostak let a 3-0 lead slip away with 50 seconds left in the match, but scored a two-point reversal with 13 seconds remaining to break a tie and nab the victory.
“Once I got that switch I just hung on to it,” Hostak said. “I basically took his arm over my head and hung onto his leg and got around on him.”
Hostak won his first two matches Friday against White River’s Jeremy Gurule and Capital’s Tony Gallardo – both via pin. Day two started off strong for Hostak as he jumped out to a 2-0 lead over Franklin-Pierce’s David Kuich. The semifinal match went back and forth with Hostak grabbing his last lead, 6-5, on a two-point reversal with 55 seconds left in the match. Kuich earned a one-point escape with 21 seconds and a two-point takedown with 3 seconds to go for an 8-6 victory.
“It was brutal, you know,” Hostak said. “You go in thinking the whole year if I make it to the semifinals all I’ve got to do is win that match.”
Kuich ended up winning his next match to take the state title.
Hostak lost his next match 8-2 to Auburn Mountainview’s TJ Peretti, missing a chance to place as high as third.
Eastside Catholic’s CJ Danforth lost his first round match Friday in a 6-2 decision to East Valley’s Keith Babington. The 112-pound senior fought back to beat Marcus Nicols of Enumclaw, 6-2, but lost 14-2 to North Central’s Jared Berlinger and was eliminated. Junior Ian Smith lost his first two matches at 125 pounds via pins.
Skyline’s Willcher finishes second
Skyline junior Alexis Willcher pinned her way to the girls state championship match, but came up just shy of a title for the second straight year.
Willcher, 2008 runner-up at 145 pounds, earned three straight pins in the 140-pound division, beating Maya Howard of Foss and Sarah Keltonic of Sequim on the first day. The first pin came in 28 seconds, the second came in 17 seconds. Willcher continued her success on the second day, pinning Burlington’s Teira Graham in 4 minutes, 48 seconds.
“She was comfortable, she wrestled her game and it worked for her,” coach Sean Gulikson said.
Willcher ran into a buzz saw in the championship, however, against nationally-ranked wrestler Jolene Crook-Meyers of Kentwood. The two-time state runner-up pinned Willcher just 12 seconds into the second round to grab her first state title.
“It was a good match by (Willcher),” Gulikson said. (Crook-Meyers) took her shot and she caught her. Tough competition is tough competition. Anything can happen in wrestling and it did.”
Skyline senior Nolan Richards also placed, taking eighth at 130 pounds. He won his opening match against Kelso’s Austin Smart with a second-round pin. He lost his next match to eventual state champion Sam Otto of Snohomish, but battled into day two with a third-round pin over Marysville-Pilchuck’s Sam Donaldson. Richardson lost two matches via decision Saturday to finish in eighth. Skyline’s Anthony DeMatteo, who placed third at 171 pounds in 3A last year, failed to place at 189 pounds in 4A. The junior lost in the first round, beat Wenatchee’s Jacob Sealby 5-3 in his second match, before being eliminated in a 3-2 decision to Russell Stinson of Ferris. Spartan junior Danny Christianson went two and out in the 152-pound division, falling to eventual state champion George King of Lake Stevens in the first round.
Issaquah grapplers done on day one
Five Issaquah wrestlers advanced to state, but none made it past the first day of competition. Senior Dalton Baunsgard won his first match at 112 pounds, beating Andrew Valdez of Moses Lake 8-5. Baunsgard lost his next match via pin to eventual state champion Josh Heinzer of Lake Stevens, then lost a one-point decision, 6-5, to Riley Miller of Kelso. Junior Jordan Tanner was the only other Eagle to earn a win on Friday. He lost his first-round 125-pound match, but fought back for a 10-8 decision over Cody Barich of South Kitsap. He lost his third bout 11-1 to Kurtis Gilbertson of Kelso. Seniors Ben Tickman (130) and Jacob Borin (160), and junior Tyler Volk (171) all lost their first two matches.
Eastlake’s Benjamin goes two and out
Max Benjamin was the first Eastlake wrestler to advance to state in two years, but his stay was short-lived. The 103-pound sophomore lost his first two matches via second-round pins to University’s Brandon Matlock and Evergreen of Vancouver’s Jarret Canovas.