Faith Tarrant of Prairie repeats, Malachi Wallway of La Center concludes senior year with title, and Skyview sophomore JJ Schoenlein wins it all
A senior from La Center, Malachi Wallway, made it happen in his final opportunity at Mat Classic, and he walked away grateful for all who helped him along the way.
A sophomore from Skyview, JJ Schoenlein, not only won it all for himself, but he did it for his wrestling program.
A sophomore from Prairie, Faith Tarrant, completed the perfect season and is halfway to her ultimate goal in high school wrestling: Four-time state champion.
Clark County is celebrating three state champions this season after another thrilling Mat Classic in the Tacoma Dome. In all, 10 Clark County wrestlers made it to the championship match in their weight classes.
We talked to the three champions, asking them to relive their championship moments and how they celebrated.
Faith Tarrant, Prairie High School, Class 4A/3A girls 235-pound champion
And not just in an undefeated sense. Tarrant wrestled 35 matches this season, and she won every one by pin.
That came a year after winning a state title as a freshman.
“I would say I just kept working hard. I’ve been wrestling for a long time. I know what I like to do. Everything just started to click more than it did last year,” she said.
She became untouchable.
One of the keys, though, is she never believes she is untouchable.
“I was really, really nervous actually,” Tarrant said of her feelings right before the championship match.
Someone asked her why she was feeling so antsy.
“You don’t understand. Anything can happen. You can get caught,” she said. “I like to walk around, keep my mind off of things (before a match). Talk about something else, to not worry about wrestling. That helped me a lot.”
It turned out, Mia Cienega of Everett did get a takedown on Tarrant in the match. That only happened a handful of times this season. Tarrant, on the mat, noticed some of the fans.
“Seeing everyone’s face was crazy. Their jaws dropped,” Tarrant said.
Yes, she was stunned to have been scored on, but she also knew not to panic. She got out of the jam, and turned things around on Cienega for a pin.
“In my head, I was saying, ‘I have to win.’ My season was perfect,” Tarrant said. “It was perfect to win and be able to say I won all year.”
Last season, she became the first Prairie girl to win a state title. Now she is a two-time winner. Oh, and with the growth of girls wrestling, she also became the first to win in the new 4A/3A girls classification. Girls wrestling used to have just one classification. Now there is a big-school class and small-school class.
Tarrant has her eyes on the bigger picture, too, hoping to become a four-time champion. She has to get to three first, though.
“In the offseason, I’m going to work a little bit harder,” Tarrant said. “I’m going to push myself more. There is no such thing as being the best. You can always improve on something.”
Saturday night, Tarrant celebrated with a meal at Olive Garden. Sunday she had ice cream with friends.
“I’m reliving the moment right now,” she said of her victory. “I’m just super, super happy.”
She also wanted to thank her mom, her coaches, and her training partner, Aaliyah Young, who finished third in the 170-pound weight class at Mat Classic.
“I don’t think I could be where I am if it wasn’t for everyone around me,” Tarrant said.
Malachi Wallway, La Center, Class 1A Boys 120-pound champion
It was a battle of wills.
Malachi Wallway knew that if he could just get to overtime, he could do it, he could win that elusive state title.
Tied at zero through two periods, Malchi had to hold down his opponent, Cooper Williams of Castle Rock, for the final two minutes in order to keep the match scoreless
Wallway accomplished that feat, then got a “fireman’s carry” in overtime, finishing Williams with a pin.
“Right when I heard that slap on the mat, my whole world blew up,” Wallway said. “It was a goal I wanted to achieve the last 15 years of my life. I wanted to achieve this so bad it was overwhelming afterward.”
It was an individual championship, but it took a team to get there, Wallway said.
“You’ve got to embrace it and all the people who have been with you along the way and helped you achieve what you set to achieve,” Wallway said of his celebration Saturday night.
“I thanked everyone who guided me. I was with my team. I was with my family. I was with everyone who supported me along the way,” he said.
“It’s a journey. You can’t do this sport by yourself. It takes friends, coaches, family, God. You can only go so far by yourself,” Wallway said. “You’ve got to be grateful.”
A year ago, Wallway just missed a finals appearance, losing by two points in the semifinals.
“After that loss, it just fueled me,” Wallway said.
“This season … I have to make it to finals. I have to win it. Senior year. I have to go out with a bang. I have to make history,” Wallway explained. “I kind of busted my butt, trying to make it.”
He also loves that he, and the other three La Center wrestlers who made it to Mat Classic, all had an impact.
“It’s crazy. To place fourth as a team with only four guys is crazy,” he said, noting the accomplishments of Aidan Watson (second place, 126 pounds); Isaac Chromey (fourth, 152); and Lane Roberts (sixth, 220).
“It’s a great feeling, making history and leaving a mark for future wrestlers, those who have big goals and big dreams,” Wallway said. “I hope they can look up to me and I can be an inspiration for them to achieve. It feels great, and I hope it counts for something for the school.”
JJ Schoenlein, Skyview, Class 4A 170-pound champion
JJ Schoenlein got the best Eli Perkes of Hanford in the third period of close match to secure a 6-5 victory to claim his state championship.
“It’s a feeling I couldn’t explain, a feeling I’ve never had in my entire life,” Schoenlein said. “Just a rush of accomplishment, joy, happiness, relief, all of the above. It was all my years of hard work led up to that, and I got my paycheck is what it felt like.”
Schoenlein is only a sophomore. Keep those checks comin’, right?
That’s the goal, he said.
A year ago, he reached the semifinals as a freshman.
This year, Washington Wrestling Report had him ranked No. 1. He only lost one match all season. He said he appreciated the respect he was given.
“Last year, I was under the radar. I wasn’t under the radar this year. It was a blessing to me,” Schoenlein said. “I was excited about it. I was excited to show my skills. It didn’t put too much more pressure on me.”
Next for Schoenlein is to get ready for 2024, with an eye on repeating. Eventually, he wants to be a three-time champion.
And he wants to make a name for Skyview wrestling.
He said the key to his improvement this season was the coaching at Skyview, including an emphasis on the mental approach, breathing techniques, and visualization.
“My coaching staff is great, and we’re building a program, building a team,” Schoenlein said. “The future, not just for me, but my entire school seems pretty bright.”
Owen Pritchard, by the way, made it to finals and finished second at 138 pounds.
“Skyview’s program, for decades, hasn’t been the greatest. I’m happy I can represent the beginning of something new. We’re on the verge of (becoming) a pretty competitive team. With everyone, me and Owen both making it to finals, it’s a landmark for our school and for our program.”
As far as the present, Schoelein said he gave himself a reward for winning the championship Saturday night.
“I came home and went to bed. That was my celebration, a good night’s sleep,” he said.
He followed that up with dinner with family and friends on Sunday.
This championship will not go to his head, he said.
“It feels good to be a state champion. I have that little boost there,” Schoenlein said. “So far I’m keeping my head down and staying to the wrestling grind. Can’t let up. It’s a great feeling, but it’s one of those things I can’t sit for too long. I’ve got to stay on my feet.”
Clark County Finalists:
Class 4A Boys
132 pounds: Noah Koyama, Union, second place
138 pounds: Owen Pritchard, Skyview, second place
170 pounds: JJ Schoenlein, Skyview, state champion
Class 3A Boys
170 pounds: Alex Ford, Prairie, second place
285 pounds: Austin Steinbach, Heritage, second place
Class 1A Boys
120 pounds: Malachi Wallway, La Center, state champion
126 pounds: Aidan Watson, La Center, second place
Class 4A/3A Girls
125 pounds: Niah Cassidy, Union, second place
140 pounds: Addie Wunderli, Camas, second place
235 pounds: Faith Tarrant, Prairie, state champion
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