Mountain Lions face challenge from schools dropping down a class
By Don Nelson
Liberty Bell High School’s defending state champion wrestling team will head to Mat Classic XXVII in Tacoma this weekend with five wrestlers and one alternate, facing a tough battle to retain their title in a realigned competitive class.
The Mountain Lions took fourth place at last weekend’s regional meet for the east side of the state, which was won by Warden with 159.5 points. Liberty Bell finished with 95 points behind Reardan and Tonasket.
Trent Skelton took first place in the 120-pound division with a 10–4 decision over Josiah Guerra of Warden, who Skelton had defeated in the finals at the district meet earlier. Skelton had advanced to the finals with two pins.
In the 126-pound division, Danny Humiston took fifth place with a 4-0 decision over Rade Pilkinton of Tonasket. Pilkinton had defeated Humiston in the district meet.
Meritt Fink advanced to the finals in the 138-pound division, where he again faced Raf Varelas of Brewster, who bested Fink at the district finals. Fink took second on an injury default.
Emmett Fink dominated the 145-pound division, pinning all of his opponents including Ruger Lillengreen of Reardan in the finals.
In the 152-pound division, Jacob McMillan advanced to the finals where he finished second to Jorge Juarez of Tonasket in a 9-0 decision. At the district meet, Juarez had pinned McMillan in the finals.
Ivan Johnson claimed the sixth spot in the 160-pound division, losing to Zach Lofthus of Tonasket, 6-3.
Skelton, Humiston, the Fink brothers and McMillan all advance to the state meet; Johnson will be an alternate. The wrestling begins Friday (Feb. 20) and continues through Saturday.
Liberty Bell is the two-time defending state champion in the 1B/2B classification. In 2014, the Mountain Lions had four individual champions: Skelton won at 120 pounds, Meritt Fink at 138 pounds, Emmett Fink at 152 pounds, and Milo Holston (since graduated) at 160 pounds. Humiston competed at 126 pounds but did not place; Johnson competed at 152 pounds and did not place.
Warden and Tonasket were not 1B/2B classification at last year’s state meet, while Reardan was and finished seventh. Last year, competing in the 1A division, Warden finished third and Tonasket 17th. In the most recent rankings on the Washington Wrestling Report website, Warden was the top-ranked B school and Liberty Bell was ranked second, followed by Reardan and Tonasket.
For updates on Mat Classic competition during the state meet, go to www.wiaa.com.
Team scores, East regionals
Liberty Bell 95
Lake Roosevelt 53.5
Mary Walker 37
Northwest Christian 34
Kettle Falls 29