Lincoln’s growing presence on the big stage was evident early on the first day at the Mat Classic. Five Abes wrestled within a 30-minute period of each other – with four pulling out first-round victories – as Lincoln concluded its impressive season at the state wrestling meet on Feb. 21-22 at the Tacoma Dome.
“It’s incredible, man,” said senior 170-pounder Keidrick O’Bannon, one of three Lincoln boys to wrestle at state last year. “We came a long way. We set team goals and we just destroyed them. It just feels good…we’re here to push it to the roof.”
The Abes brought eight boys wrestlers to the Dome this year, as O’Bannon put up Lincoln’s first victory in pinning Ferndale’s Charnjit Matu with 11 seconds to go in the first round. Junior B.J. Hawthorne was similarly impressive in his 182-pound opener, getting a pin late in the first round over Liberty of Issaquah’s Quinn Magendanz.
“I just waited for the opportunity to open up and took my shot,” said Hawthorne, who was an alternate at the Mat Classic last year and did not wrestle. “Being here last year and not being able to participate was horrible.”
Hawthorne advanced to the semifinals with a 7-5 overtime victory over Shadle Park’s Kyle Vinson, but fell in his next two matches to eventually settle for fifth place. Senior Aliyas Fletcher gutted out a 6-3 win over Mountlake Terrace’s Brett Potter in his opener, and later earned fifth place with a 2-1 win over Peninsula’s Chance Stolz. Fellow 195-pounder Jeremy Lukosh raced out to a 10-1 lead over Sunnyside’s Isaac Palomino in his opener, securing a pin late in the second round to advance. Lukosh, senior 285-pounder J.J. Saili – another first-round winner – and senior 132-pounder Robert Mathews and 160-pounder Murad Vagabov all fell short of placing, but helped establish Lincoln wrestlers as a growing power.
And the success didn’t stop with the boys, as Lincoln junior 155-pounder D.J. White placed third in the girls bracket by pinning Nooksack Valley’s Kylee Dekoekkoek in the second round of the consolation final. Stadium’s Celeste Wise placed sixth in the 100-pound girls bracket while the Tigers’ Jazmine Teganvoort took seventh at 235 pounds.
Bellarmine Prep senior Hunter Taylor helped get the Lions’ contingent off to a solid start, pulling a late reversal and pin with 11 seconds to go in his 170-pound opener after falling behind 4-2.
“I knew I had to leave it all out there, so I just gave it 110 percent the whole time,” Taylor said. “I realized he was getting kind of sloppy, so I decided it was time to pull the trigger and go for it.”
Taylor fell in the quarterfinals and settled for a seventh-place finish, while Bellarmine sophomore 106-pounder Jed Klein eventually earned fifth place after getting a quick pin over Heritage’s Jordan Zuniga in his opener. The Lions’ Elliott Villars (220 pounds) and Luke Yi (285) both fell in their opening two matches to be eliminated.