This year’s Great Northern League wrestling districts Feb. 7 at East Valley was a different landscape with the absences of Colville and Deer Park, who moved to the Northeast A League in the fall that only allowed for the top three finishers in each weight to would move on to the Class 2A Region IV tournament Feb. 13-14 in Ellensburg.
Yet history repeated itself for the Cheney High wrestling team as seven Blackhawks advanced to regionals.
Cameron Wiseman (138 pounds) and Devon Waterman (182) captured District 7 titles in their weight divisions.
Waterman, who finished second at last year’s districts, received a bye into the semifinals where he pinned East Valley’s Bryan Westwood halfway through the first period. In the finals he pinned West Valley’s Quintin Stansberry in the middle of the third period to earn his third-consecutive trip to regionals.
After a first-round bye, Wiseman scored pins over Pullman’s Hunter Muraszawski and East Valley’s Mac Romney. He pinned EV’s Nathan Chapman late in the second period to win his first district title.
Head coach Brad Rasmussen said he knew both Waterman and Wiseman had good chances of winning their brackets, despite enduring some hardships during the regular season.
“The chips continued to be stacked against them and they battled back,” Rasmussen said. “It’s great to see them get a taste of success.”
Taylor Nguyen (113), Justin Randolph (170), Kodi Smith (195), Michael Ferguson (220) and Garrett Pederson (285) earned places at regionals after they all finished third in their brackets.
The semifinals were tough for Cheney. Nguyen, Ferguson and Randolph lost via close decisions while Pederson and Smith were pinned by their opponents.
“After our big guys lost, you could see our morale go down,” Rasmussen said. “We had a team pep talk and our guys rallied back in the next two rounds.”
Billy Bakke (138), Braden Wirth (120), Francisco Martinez (138) and Tyler Thomas (126) finished fourth in their brackets. Boedy Taylor (160), Colten Vandine (132), Josh Corean (145) and Saul Bautista (120) had wins but were eliminated in the consolation round. As a team Cheney finished third out of five with 177 points.
“We competed as well as we could have,” Rasmussen said. “We scored more points at districts than we have in any tournament this year. We knew we were going to be successful. It’s good to see those kids get those wins.”
According to Rasmussen, regionals are different this year. While Waterman and Wiseman advance straight into the tournament, the other five will have to wrestle a pigtail match against the Central Washington Athletic Conference’s No. 6 wrestler in their division.
“I live for these tournaments,” Rasmussen said. “Emotions are high and your season comes down to what you can do in six minutes. We know what we’re getting ourselves into.”