Fink, McMillan look to improve on last year
By Don Nelson
Liberty Bell High School will send three wrestlers to compete in this weekend’s Mat Classic XXVIII state championships in Tacoma.
Representing the Mountain Lions in the 1B/2B classification are senior Meritt Fink at 145 pounds, junior Kaleb Martin at 152 pounds and senior Jacob McMillan at 170 pounds.
The meet is in the Tacoma Dome on Friday and Saturday (Feb. 19 – 20). For detailed information, visit www.wiaa.com/ardisplay.aspx?ID=1579.
McMillan took second place in last year’s Mat Classic at 152 pounds. Fink won the state championship at 138 pounds in 2014, but was hampered by injuries last year and failed to place. Last year, Liberty Bell sent five wrestlers and one alternate to state.
Wrestlers will compete in 12-man brackets this year rather than eight-man brackets. Fink will get a first-round bye in his weight group. His first competition will be against the winner of the first-round match between Thomas Perryman of Liberty (Spangle) and Jace Duckworth of Raymond.
Martin’s first-round match is against Taylor Flesher of Kettle Falls.
McMillan also has a first-round bye, and will face the winner of the match between Glen Johnson of Liberty and Aydan Costin of Napavine.
Coach Gunnar Doggett said that Liberty Bell’s competitors “all have good positions to make it far this year.”
Last year, Liberty Bell finished in a tie for third place with Tonasket. The Mountain Lions had won the state championship in 2013 and 2014.
At the 1B/2B Region II championships last weekend in Kittitas, Liberty Bell finished sixth out of 12 competing schools with 83 points, behind Tonasket, Warden (last year’s 1B/2B state champion), Kittitas, Okanogan and Lake Roosevelt.
Freshman Tanner White took sixth place in the 132-pound division. He won his first match over Ivan Dominguez of Warden, 9-4; then lost in a fall to Tony Nichols of Lake Roosevelt; pinned Jaric Cook of Okanogan; pinned Justo Velasquez of Mabton; and lost 10-0 to Austin Wood of Tonasket in the final round.
Fink finished second in the 145-pound division, losing the final match to Peter Manville of Warden, 3-1. Fink had a first-round bye, then pinned Garrett Wilson of Tonasket and Chase Gleason of Kittitas on his way to the final round. Fink could encounter Manville in the finals at the Mat Classic.
Martin took third place in the 152-pound division. After a first-round bye, he pinned Merrick Hyde of Kittitas; was pinned by Jorge Juarez of Tonasket; pinned Kade Nierman of Kittitas; then beat Raul Martinez of Warden, 8-5, for third place.
McMillan finished second in the 170-pound division, losing to Luke Peebles of Kittitas in the final match. Earlier, McMillan had a first-round bye; pinned Arnulfo Mercado of Okanogan; and beat Robert Arrendondo of Warden, 9-5, on his way to the finals. McMillan could face Peebles again in the Mat Classic.
In the 170-pound division, senior Ivan Johnson took sixth place. He overcame Elvis Lopez of White Swan in the first round, 18-3; was pinned by Peebles; beat Joaquin Valdez of Mabton, 17-1; pinned Fermin Martinez of Kittitas; and lost to Arrendondo, 9-4.