Cheney High wrestling head coach Brad Rasmussen knew Michael Ferguson and Devon Waterman had what it takes to advance far in the Mat Classic XXVI state championships, Feb. 20-21, at the Tacoma Dome and he was not disappointed.
In his first trip to the Mat Classic, Ferguson (220 pounds) finished third in his weight division. Waterman, who competed in state for the second time, (182) took eighth in his bracket.
Ferguson defeated Orting’s Kenny Marll via 11-4 decision in the first round. In the quarterfinals, he lost a 6-3 decision to tournament runner-up Hockinson’s Cameron Loos, of Brush Prairie.
“Michael has been ‘Mr. Consistency’ for us this year but you could tell the pressure was building on him and he didn’t wrestle well in that second match,” Rasmussen said.
Ferguson powered his way through the consolation bracket with pins over Washougal’s Jacob Brown and Rochester’s Matt Shields and an 11-2 decision over Port Angeles’ Kyle La Fritz in between. In his last match, he pinned Sedro Woolley’s Gabe Torgensen in the second period.
“The look on Michaels’ face after he got that last pin was worth all of the hardships,” Rasmussen said.
Ferguson had a good regular season, winning titles in several regional tournaments. He finished third in both districts and regionals.
Similar to Ferguson’s path in the tournament, Waterman scored a second-period pin over R.A. Long’s Will Tiegen, of Longview, then lost a 14-2 decision to Anacortes’ Aaron Tisinger, who finished first in the division.
“The score was lopsided but Devon wrestled tough,” Rasmussen said.
In the consolation bracket, he picked up a 4-1 win over Lindbergh’s Diego Gallecos then lost to Quincy’s Cade Wallace via pin. In his last match, he lost a close 4-3 decision to Ellensburg’s Kerrigan Simpson. Simpson defeated Waterman in the final match at regionals.
Waterman had a strong regular season, placing in several tournaments including third at the Blackhawk Invite in January. He captured his first district title then finished second at regionals.
“Devon has wrestled good throughout the season and he turned it up at the right time,” Rasmussen said. “He wasn’t quite satisfied with eighth place but it was his first state medal.”
As a team Cheney finished 18th out of 65 with 27 points.
The Blackhawks lose Brannon Pederson, Tyler Thomas, Kodi Smith and Justin Randolph to graduation. Next season they’ll bring back several returners, including Ferguson, Waterman, Braden Wirth and Garrett Pederson.
“We have a strong core group of kids coming back next year,” Rasmussen said. “We’ll take a few days off and then start freestyle wrestling. We plan to put in a lot of work through the off season.”