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Friday Harbor’s Guard earns 3rd straight Mat Classic berth

  • Written by Matt Pranger

Friday Harbor senior James Guard placed third in the 120-pound division at the Class 1B/2B Region 1 Wrestling Tournament in Adna Saturday, Feb. 11 and will be making a third consecutive trip to the state tournament.

Fellow Wolverine senior Jesse Payne finished sixth in the 113 division at regionals and narrowly missed an outright berth to Mat Classic XXIX Feb. 17-18 in the Tacoma Dome. He will attend as an alternate.

Weston Swirtz (195) completed his first season with the Wolverines at the regional meet.

Guard started regionals by sticking Brad Kelly of Winlock to the mat with nine seconds remaining in the match. The 120-pound champion — Ilwaco’s Tony Merino — defeated Guard 15-5 in a semifinal. In a consolation semifinal, Guard pinned Darrington’s Joseph Monchack in 2:27. Guard recorded his third pin of the day in the consolation final when he stuck Ilwaco’s Wilfrido Mendez in 4:37.

Payne opened regionals by scoring 20 points but eventual 113-pound runner-up Ethan Hoggat of Kalama tallied 28 for the decision. Payne rebounded by pinning Winlock’s Santos Balbuena in 2:56 in his first consolation match. Concrete’s Riley Fichter, the third-place finisher, stopped Payne at 5:36 in a consolation semifinal. Hoggat edged Payne 4-2 for the fifth and final 113-pound state tourney berth.

Swirtz dropped his first match of the day by a fall in 1:04 to sixth-place finisher Cahlin McNabb of Ilwaco. The fifth-place finisher — Ilwaco’s Marcus Connor — pinned Swirtz 1:55 into a consolation first-round match.


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