McMillan takes fifth; Mountain Lions finish 14th in state meet
By Don Nelson
After a one-year absence from the medals podium, Liberty Bell High School senior Meritt Fink took first place in the 1B/2B 145-pound division last weekend at Mat Classic XXVIII, the state championship wrestling meet in Tacoma.
Liberty Bell’s only other scorer was senior Jacob McMillan, who took fifth place at 170 pounds. He finished second last year at 152 pounds, and third in 2014.
Junior Kaleb Martin was to wrestle at 152 pounds for the Mountain Lions, but underwent an emergency appendectomy on Thursday (Feb. 18) — the night before the meet started — and was out of the state competition. However, he was out the hospital the next day to cheer on his teammates.
Liberty Bell finished 14th overall in the 1B/2B division with 38 points. Last year the Mountain Lions tied for third place; the previous two years they were state champions.
Warden, last year’s winner in the 1B/2B competition, repeated as champions with 176 points, followed by Tonasket with 134.5 points and Reardan with 117.5.
Saturday night’s championship finals victory gave Fink his second state title. He won in 2014 wrestling at 138 pounds, but was hampered by injuries in last year’s state championships and failed to place in the 138-pound division.
Fink had a bye in the first round, then quickly pinned Jace Duckworth of Raymond and Reggie Jones of Colfax to move into the championship showdown. “He looked great. He dominated all the way through,” said coach Gunnar Doggett.
Jones, a senior, has likely seen enough of the Fink family. Last year, Meritt’s older brother Emmett defeated Jones for the state title at 145 pounds.
In the championship match, Meritt Fink took on Peter Manville of Warden, who had defeated Fink, 3-1, at the regional tournament the previous week. The wrestlers were scoreless through the first two periods. “It’s what we expected,” Doggett said. “We had a plan.”
The plan was to stay close and make the third period count. As the period began, Fink was in the down position and Manville attempted a takedown that failed — giving Fink the first and only point of the match.
“He [Manville] gave us the only point we needed,” Doggett said. “Meritt played it safe and rode it out” for the victory.
McMillan also had a bye in the first round, then dispatched Glenn Johnson of Liberty with a pin at 2:55. In his second match, McMillan lost 5-1 to the eventual champion — and now three-time state champion — Blake Phillips of Republic.
In the consolation round, McMillan faced Luke Peebles of Kittitas, who had defeated McMillan at the regional championships. Peebles came away with a 12-4 win, putting McMillan in the match for fifth and sixth place against Shiloh Borden of Raymond. McMillan finished strong with a 10-1 victory over Borden. “He [McMillan] fought hard. He showed up with some fire,” Doggett said.
McMillan wrested three times within three hours on Saturday, Doggett pointed out.
As for Martin, he had been experiencing stomach problems earlier in the week, Doggett said. On Thursday night, he was taken to an emergency room in Tacoma, where it was decided that he needed immediate surgery, Doggett said.
Martin will return next year, along with a relatively young group of wrestlers, Doggett said. The coach said that eighth-graders may be included in next year’s varsity competition to bolster the squad’s size.
Meritt Fink, 145 pounds
Round 1: Bye
Round 2: Pinned Jace Duckworth, Raymond, 2:55
Round 3: Pinned Reggie Jones, Colfax, 5:37
Championship: Defeated Peter Manville, Warden, 1-0
Jacob McMillan, 170 pounds
Round 1: Bye
Round 2: Pinned Glen Johnson, Liberty, 2:33
Round 3: Lost to Blake Phillips, Republic, 5-1
Round 4 (consolation): Lost to Luke Peebles, Kittitas, 12-4
Round 5 (consolation): Beat Shiloh Borden, Raymond, 10-1, for fifth place
1B/2B Washington Mat Classic XXVIII Championships
2016 Team Scores
1 Warden 176
2 Tonasket 134.5
3 Reardan 117.5
4 Concrete 78.5
5 Ilwaco 77.5
6 Selkirk 71.5
7 Okanogan 69.5
8 Kittitas 67.5
9 Lake Roosevelt 55.5
10 Liberty (Spangle) 51.5
11 Colfax 50
12 Brewster 43
13 Darrington 41
14 Liberty Bell 38
15 Mary Walker 36
16 North Beach 29.5
17 Ocosta (Westport) 29
18 Republic 29
19 Mabton 29
20 Waitsburg-Prescott 24
21 Pateros 24
22 Raymond 24
23 Toledo 21
24 Adna 19
25 Davenport 18
26 Kettle Falls 18
27 Winlock 18
28 Rainier 15
29 Wilbur-Creston 15
30 Chief Leschi 13
31 Almira/Coulee/Hartline 13
32 South Bend 13
33 Pomeroy 12
34 Northwest Christian 11
35 Riverside Christian 10
36 Lind-Ritzville 9
37 Oroville 9
38 Friday Harbor 7
39 Life Christian 7
40 La Conner 0
41 Garfield/Palouse 0
42 Onalaska 0
43 Napavine 0