Mat Classic: Five local champions tell their stories

Clark County wrestlers shine in Tacoma Dome

Clark County wrestlers went 5-1 in state championship matches Saturday night as Washington celebrated Mat Classic XXX at the Tacoma Dome.

Tanner Craig of Camas, Danny Snediker of Union, and Jackson McKinney of Skyview all are Class 4A boys state champions. Tanner Lees of Washougal is a 2A state champion. And Allison Blaine of Hudson’s Bay is a champion in the girls classification.

In all, 31 wrestlers from Clark County placed at an event that can be argued has one of the best atmospheres of any of the tournaments put on by the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association. The two-day tournament features all classifications under the dome, capped with the championship matches in six classifications at the same time Saturday evening.

Here are the stories of the local champions:

Tanner Craig, Camas, 4A boys 132 pounds

“It’s kind of crazy to me,” Craig told ClarkCountyToday. “I couldn’t stop crying after I won, to be honest. It’s amazing to think now, that I’ve been striving for it for so long, and it’s finally here. I finally have it. It’s unreal.”

Tanner Craig of Camas took home the Class 4A 132-pound state championship at Mat Classic on Saturday night. He was one of five Clark County wrestlers to win a title. Photo by Nikki Peters/WIAA
Tanner Craig of Camas took home the Class 4A 132-pound state championship at Mat Classic on Saturday night. He was one of five Clark County wrestlers to win a title. Photo by Nikki Peters/WIAA

As soon as he left the dome, he headed out for a pizza.

“One final dinner with coaches, teammates and parents,” Craig said.

Craig got a reversal over C.J. Richmond of Sumner to take a 2-1 lead in the third period, then held down Richmond for the final 40 seconds.

“Forty seconds doesn’t seem long, but on a wrestling mat, it is,” Craig said.

The official raised his arm.

“I didn’t think about what I was going to do if I won. I let out a little yell,” he said. “Man, it’s over. Finally. Worth it. So happy to see my dad and my coaches who have been with me the whole way.”

Craig finished eighth in state last year. He said he credits a change to his mental approach to the sport. He found confidence.

“Realizing I could wrestle with the best and give them matches and beat them,” Craig said.

Tanner Lees, Washougal, 2A boys 145 pounds

Lees left the dome Saturday night on a new mission. He had heard about a half-pound Reese’s peanut butter cup, and he was officially no longer cutting out junk food from his diet.

Tanner Lees of Washougal (shown here at the Clark County Wrestling Tournament) was the lone Class 2A wrestler from the county to win a state championship Saturday at Mat Classic. File photo by Mike Schultz
Tanner Lees of Washougal (shown here at the Clark County Wrestling Tournament) was the lone Class 2A wrestler from the county to win a state championship Saturday at Mat Classic. File photo by Mike Schultz

Only, no one could find that particular piece of candy. So instead, the team went to Dairy Queen, and Lees celebrated with a large Reese’s Blizzard.

He had earned it, after all. A year after placing fourth, Lees, a senior, took home a state title.

A day after he won the title, he was already thinking about coaching up next year’s Washougal wrestlers.

“It’s just nice to be able to know you completed it, and you can help other people,” he said. “I can help people with what works and what doesn’t.”

Lees trailed 3-0 going into the final period. But Lees flipped Weston Lyver of White River, and he knew he had him. The pin came in at 4 minutes, 32 seconds of the match.

“I was super happy knowing that all my time wrestling finally paid off,” Lees said. “It just felt great that everyone was there for me, everyone cheering for me, and I had my dad on the mat coaching me … just knowing they were all there for me.”

Allison Blaine, Hudson’s Bay, girls 135 pounds

Blaine is accustomed to being in the spotlight in her sport, but not so much at a karaoke restaurant after her competition. So she just sang along to Bruno Mars and Sugarland and the like, comfortably at her table, celebrating with friends and family after they left the dome Saturday night.

After all, she no longer needed the big stage. She had already captured her big moment.

 

Allison Blaine of Hudson’s Bay (shown here on top at the Clark County Wrestling Tournament) claimed her first state title Saturday at Mat Classic. She was one of five athletes from the county to win a state title, the only girl. File photo by Mike Schultz
Allison Blaine of Hudson’s Bay (shown here on top at the Clark County Wrestling Tournament) claimed her first state title Saturday at Mat Classic. She was one of five athletes from the county to win a state title, the only girl. File photo by Mike Schultz

 

A year after placing third as a freshman, Blaine is now a state champion after beating Kiara Pierson of Sequim 4-2 in the final match.

That Saturday event turned into a special Sunday.

“A lot of congratulations. A lot of people talking about how great I did,” Blaine said. “Really fun celebrating with friends and family. Honestly, it’s been more than amazing.”

Blaine said she heard the countdown with 10 seconds left in her match. That’s when she knew she had it.

A few seconds later, the official made it official.

“When they raised my hand, I wasn’t facing my family yet. I couldn’t believe it was already over,” she recalled. “I turned around and saw all my family waving at me. They were smiling. I was smiling. It was the best feeling ever. A moment to remember.

“Just having them there made everything so much better.”

Danny Snediker, Union, Class 4A boys 152 pounds

When the buzz subsided a bit, and wrestlers left the Tacoma Dome, Snediker just wanted to hang out with his team one more time. For him, it was not just an individual title.

“They’re the people who got me here. We reminisced on the season and how we got to where we were,” Snediker said. “Talking to everyone who got me where I could be and thanking everyone for putting me in the position I was in.”

A junior, that position now and forever will be: state champion.

Union’s Daniel Snediker (shown here on top at the Clark County Wrestling Tournament) won the Class 4A 152-pound weight class at Mat Classic on Saturday. File photo by Mike Schultz
Union’s Daniel Snediker (shown here on top at the Clark County Wrestling Tournament) won the Class 4A 152-pound weight class at Mat Classic on Saturday. File photo by Mike Schultz

“Truly is incredible,” Snediker said. “It’s a big accomplishment that everyone can recognize. They know how real a deal you are.”

Snediker, who finished fifth in state last year, beat Cameron Crawford of Mead 8-4 in the finals. Snediker said he went into the tournament believing his next match was going to be his best match. He knew he needed that for the finals, too, because Crawford was having the tournament of his life.

It did not take long, though, for Snediker to take command.

“Not to be overly confident, but I thought I had it in the first 30 seconds,” he said.

His arm raised, he could start to appreciate the moment.

“It was unbelievable. I had so many people who were so supportive. Everyone was on my side, rooting for me the whole time,” Snediker said. “I finally had a chance to look into everyone’s faces and show them what I could do … just amazing.”

Jackson McKinney, Skyview, Class 4A boys 195 pounds

McKinney was the final Clark County wrestler to earn a state title Saturday.

Jackson McKinney became the first Skyview wrestler to win a boys state title when he accomplished the feat Saturday night at Mat Classic. File photo by Paul Valencia
Jackson McKinney became the first Skyview wrestler to win a boys state title when he accomplished the feat Saturday night at Mat Classic. File photo by Paul Valencia

Didn’t matter to him that it was late. He knew his final destination that night was open 24 hours.

“Drove straight to Shari’s and ordered a breakfast that I hadn’t eaten in a couple days, plus a coconut pie. I ate the whole thing,” McKinney said.

No more watching his weight, at least not for the rest of this holiday weekend.

“Definitely enjoying the spoils,” he said.

Sunday was full of more joy.

“I’ve just been mobbed by my family, friends, and teammates. I just got back from grandma’s house. Everyone there was celebrating,” he said.

McKinney, who lost in the finals a year ago, was not going to settle for second place in 2018. He had no trouble in the finals, dispatching Izaiah Davis of South Kitsap 6-2. He said he knew he was going to win before the match started.

“My goal wasn’t to win to state. It was to take state. That’s exactly what I did,” McKinney said.

He also became the first Skyview wrestler to win a boys title.

“It felt like a win for me, my school, my coach, my teammates, for Clark County, for everyone who helped me put in the work and believed in me,” McKinney said.

Krista Warren, Union, girls 140 pounds, second place

Union’s Krista Warren also made it to a championship match. She had to settle for second place, falling in the girls 140-pound weight class to Nicole Clark of Sumner.

The Union Titans did have their best team finish for the girls program, taking second place.

Camas had the best finish among the boys teams, placing fifth in 4A.

Clark County placers

Class 4A

126: 3rd, Jack Latimer, Camas
132: CHAMPION: Tanner Craig, Camas; 4th, Rylan Thompson, Camas
138: 6th, Noah Talavera, Union
152: CHAMPION: Danny Snediker, Union
160: 4th, Gideon Malychewski, Camas
195: CHAMPION: Jackson McKinney, Skyview; 3rd, Samuel Malychewski, Camas

Class 3A

106: 5th, Noah Messman, Mountain View
170: 3rd, Dylan Goodpaster, Evergreen
182: 5th, Alton Culver, Mountain View; 7th, Nick Langer, Prairie
285: 7th, Alex Ferruzca, Mountain View

Class 2A

106: 6th, Judeah Sanders, Woodland
113: 5th, Josiah Sanders, Woodland
145: CHAMPION: Tanner Lees, Washougal; 4th, Dale Anderson, Hockinson
152: 4th, Logan Knudson, Columbia River
195: 7th, Jacob Flanagan, Woodland
220: 6th, Dawson Lieurance, Ridgefield

Class 1A

195: 3rd, Mike Garrison, King’s Way Christian

Girls

100: 3rd, Ashlyn Daugherty, Woodland
105: 3rd, Hikaru Abe, Skyview
130: 4th, Riley Aamold, Union; 7th, Jaden Robb, Washougal
135: CHAMPION: Allison Blaine, Hudson’s Bay
140: 2nd, Krista Warren, Union; Brooklyn Wurm-Wertz, Washougal
145: 3rd, Annabelle Helm, Union; 4th, Nevaeh Cassidy, Union
170: 7th, Amanda Fry, Seton Catholic

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