Photo by Callie Fink LBHS senior Meritt Fink, right, is congratulated by wrestling coach Gunnar Doggett after taking first place in the 1B/2B 145-pound division at the state championship meet in Tacoma last weekend. It was Fink’s second state title — something Doggett is familiar with, having won two state titles when he wrestled for the Mountain Lions. See Page B1 for complete details.

Photo by Callie Fink

LBHS senior Meritt Fink, right, is congratulated by wrestling coach Gunnar Doggett after taking first place in the 1B/2B 145-pound division at the state championship meet in Tacoma last weekend. It was Fink’s second state title — something Doggett is familiar with, having won two state titles when he wrestled for the Mountain Lions. See Page B1 for complete details.

McMillan takes fifth; Mountain Lions finish 14th in state meet

By Don Nelson

Photo by Callie Fink Meritt Fink leverages Warden’s Peter Manville airborne in the 145-pound championship match.

Photo by Callie Fink

Meritt Fink leverages Warden’s Peter Manville airborne in the 145-pound championship match.

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.

Photo by Callie FinkFrom left, former LBHS coach Paul Schmekel,assistant coach Jon McMillan and head coach Gunnar Doggett offer encouragement.

Photo by Callie Fink
From left, former LBHS coach Paul Schmekel,assistant coach Jon McMillan and head coach Gunnar Doggett offer encouragement.

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.

Photo by Callie FinkJacob McMillan works for position against Republic’s Blake Phillips in the 170-pound division.

Photo by Callie Fink
Jacob McMillan works for position against Republic’s Blake Phillips in the 170-pound division.

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