Friday Harbor's wrestling season ends at the state championship | State 1A Wrestling Championship

From left, Friday Harbor wrestlers Calen Mehrer, Willy Dunn and Michael Davis stretch before practice, Feb. 17. The three are in Tacoma for the state 1A Boys Wrestling Championship.   - Jane K. Fox
From left, Friday Harbor wrestlers Calen Mehrer, Willy Dunn and Michael Davis stretch before practice, Feb. 17. The three are in Tacoma for the state 1A Boys Wrestling Championship.
— image credit: Jane K. Fox

Friday Harbor’s wrestlers, having lost their opening matches at the storied Mat Classic on Friday, found some redemption vs. Montesano.

But in the end, it was Zillah that dashed the wrestlers’ hopes of third-place finishes at the state championship.

Sophomore Michael Davis (145) lost his third match to Rodney Treece of Zillah by fall in 3:58 to finish 1-2 at the Mat Classic. Davis was three matches away from a chance at third place, and two matches away from a chance at seventh. He lost his opening match 18-12 to Lee Leavell of Tonasket, but defeated Jason Franks of Montesano 8-4 to keep his hopes alive.

Senior Calen Mehrer (215) was ousted by Nathaniel Deardorff of Zillah, losing by fall in 2:38 to finish 1-2 at state. Mehrer lost his opening match by fall in 4:59 to Brandon Hudson of Tonasket, but defeated Blake Wargo of Montesano by fall in 1:52 to stay in competition.

Sophomore Willy Dunn (285) lost his second consecutive match and was ousted from title contention. Dunn lost his opening match by fall in 0:50 to John Delap of Okanogan. He lost his second match to Tyson Balzer of Rainier by fall in 2:54. Balzer, in turn, lost 5-2 to John Myers of Zillah.

And so ends another impressive year for the Friday Harbor wrestling program.

Between Dec. 5 and Feb. 13, Friday Harbor's wrestlers endured double duals and triple duals. The Iron Sharpens Iron Tournament, the Mount Baker Invite, the Sky Valley Classic. The workouts and the late-night ferry rides. Each event a team sport yet a very personal sport. Out there on the mat, it's just you and your opponent. You've got to be faster, smarter, stronger.

And in the end, three Friday Harbor wrestlers — Davis, Dunn and Mehrer — earned passage to the most storied event in prep wrestling in Washington: The 1A State Wrestling Championship. The Mat Classic, in the Tacoma Dome. Thousands of spectators and the best prep wrestlers in the state.

The competition began Friday and, for those who advance, continues Saturday.

It was Dunn's second consecutive appearance in the Tacoma Dome; he went last year as an alternate (Davis also went to state last year). In an interview three days before the Mat Classic, Dunn said he was unfazed by the thought of competing in front of a crowd of thousands, against wrestlers from much-larger schools.

"It's a little nerve-wracking, but it gets the adrenaline flowing," he said of the crowds. "You feed off that adrenaline. It gets you pumped up for the match."

Out there on the mat, mental matters as much as muscle.

"A lot of wrestlers look at me funny because I don't get all screamy and psyched out," Dunn said in the interview. "I go through everything before the match in my head. Once the whistle blows, the nervousness goes away."

Mehrer got a taste of state competition at the regional tournament. He was No. 1 seed in his weight division but was pinned midway through the second round by Vashon Island's Geran Webb, who is ranked third in the state and is one of the few wrestlers west of the Cascades ranked in the top 10.

"I was thrown around like a rag doll," said Mehrer, who finished second in the 215 weight class at regional.

Mehrer said the week of practices leading to the state championship was "insane — the toughest practices I've had." He sparred with Dunn and with Coach Neil MacDiarmid.

"He's thick and really stocky. He's a muscle hamster," Mehrer said of his coach. "He's built like most of the wrestlers I'll go against, like someone who should be better than me. It's been really good to wrestle him."

All told, it's been an impressive year for the Wolverines and third-year head coach MacDiarmid, whose 2008-09 squad sent three wrestlers and two alternates to the state tournament.

"We may not win a ton of matches, but where we have wrestlers, they're all going to do well," MacDiarmid said at the beginning of the season. His statement was prophetic.

Seven wrestlers advanced to the Boys 1A Regional Tournament Feb. 13 at Bellevue Christian; five were No. 1 seeds in their weight divisions. One female wrestler, Kia Johns, advanced to the 1A Subregional Tournament at Squalicum High School and, although she didn't qualify for the Girls Region 1 Tournament, MacDiarmid was quick to spotlight her performance in her debut year.

"She always has two or three moves going at a time," MacDiarmid said at the seeding tournament.


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