When you add up all the numbers, the Hermiston Bulldogs had a prosperous weekend at the District 8 Wrestling Tournament.
The host Bulldogs placed three in the finals (all freshmen), had 11 place in the top six, and will send seven wrestlers to the regional tournament.
“It’s good to have kids make the finals and experience that,” Hermiston coach Kyle Larson said. “We are excited. We have quite a young team. It’s our first WIAA district competition. We need to find out as a team how to finish strong.”
Mt. Spokane, the reigning 3A state champion, ran away with the team title, amassing 404.5 points, leaving the rest of the competition behind. Rogers (221.5) was second, while Kamiakin (204.5) was third, Southridge (193.5) fourth and Hermiston fifth with 184.5 points.
“It was good,” Mt. Spokane coach Travis Hughes said. “We have a good team with some talented kids. Next weekend will be a better test. We were surprised by the scores. We were concerned about Kamiakin. Team-wise, it was low stress. To get that many kids through was nice.”
The top four district placers advance to the regional tournament Feb. 9 at Yelm High School. From there, the top four will advance to the state tournament Feb. 15-16 at the Tacoma Dome.
The Bulldogs had Jon Lee (220 pounds), Sam Cadenas (195) and Hunter Dyer (120) in the finals, but did not come away with any champions.
Lee, the Mid-Columbia Conference’s top seed, was pinned by Kamiakin senior Ben Hollenberg in a time of 4 minutes, 50 seconds in the title match.
“I felt he was going to be hard to beat,” Lee said. “Everyone I wrestled here, I had wrestled before. They were way harder this time. After my second match, I knew Hollenberg would be the real deal.”
Lee (29-11) beat Mt. Spokane’s Tyler Dallas 7-6 in the semifinals to advance.
In the championship bout, Hollenberg led 5-0 in the third before getting the pin.
“I’m a freshman and I’m proud of how far I’ve gotten,” Lee said. “I could have done way worse. It makes me excited for the future. I think as time goes on, we will grow as a team. By the time we freshmen are seniors, we will be winning tournaments.”
Cardenas, who won the 220-pound title at the MCC JV championships last week, cut down to 195 for districts, and worked his way through the bracket before earning an 11-7 decision over Nate Smiler of Shadle Park in the semifinals.
In the finals, he encountered Kamiakin’s Jacob Olson (31-5), who pinned the young Bulldog in 32 seconds. Olson won the 3A 170-pound state title last year.
“I was nervous,” Cadenas said of his match with Olson. “I got caught in a head-and-arm and that got me off balance. This is my first year wrestling and it was fun. It’s a whole new experience.”
Dyer (20-16) pinned Jacob Williams of Southridge in 3:37 to reach the finals, where he met up with Kamiakin senior Xavier Zavala.
Zavala took Dyer down just 23 seconds into the first round, and registered the pin at 1:03 for his second consecutive district title.
“It was a great experience,” Dyer said. “I drew a good seed in the bracket and took advantage of it. I went in knowing the kid (Zavala) was three grades ahead of me. I was a little nervous. I’m going to regionals, and I’m really excited about that.”
Larson was pleased with the performance of his youngsters.
“It’s awesome for these freshmen,” he said. “For Sam, this is the biggest tournament he has been in.”
Also joining Lee, Cadenas and Dyer at regionals will be Jordan Franklin, who was third at 132, Trevor Wagner, who was third at 160, junior Dustyn Coughlin who was third at 285, and senior Gage Shipley, who finished fourth at 126.
Franklin left no doubt who was in charge of his match against Matthew McGuire of Rogers. The Hermiston junior cruised to a 17-4 major decision to earn the third seed to regionals.
Wagner, a sophomore, picked up the third seed to regionals with a 9-5 victory over Ryan Stayrook of Southridge, while Coughlin beat Kingston Grey of Mt. Spokane 5-2.
Shipley was pinned by Riley Bonser of Mt. Spokane in the placing match in a time of 3:04.