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WRESTLING | Medeiros finishes as heavyweight runner-up
TACOMA — The result left him with laments.
South Kitsap senior Damien Medeiros, who lost a 7-3 decision Saturday in the Class 4A heavyweight championship against Lake Stevens’ Brandon Johnson at Mat Classic XXV, wondered if the result might have been different if he started wrestling earlier.
For perspective, when Conner Hartmann and Terrill Wilson won state titles for the Wolves in 2011 at Tacoma Dome, Medeiros was not even in the program. He only became a wrestler later that year when he went to pick up a math textbook he left in his locker. South coach Chad Nass and football assistant coach Adam Kanouse, who was involved with the wrestling program at that time, approached and asked him to try out.
“I kind of wish I had another year,” said Medeiros, who is contemplating playing football next season at Minot State University in North Dakota. “I kind of wish I had wrestled my sophomore year. Everyone has regrets. I tried to make up for it this year.”
Nass said Medeiros’ two seasons were remarkable, though. After all, Medeiros placed eighth and second at state despite never wrestling before his junior year. He finished with a 38-4 record as a senior. His only setbacks came against Johnson and Jalean Webb from Jefferson High School in Portland.
“It is a pretty remarkable accomplishment,” Nass said.
Medeiros felt experience — Johnson wrestled for the heavyweight title last year — made a difference. This marked the third time Medeiros and Johnson have faced each other this season. Johnson won 5-3 last week at regionals and 6-4 in overtime at Matman Classic on Jan. 12.
“It felt like I was kind of off,” said Medeiros, who defeated Kentlake’s Tyler Deskins 3-2 in overtime in the semifinals to advance to the championship round. “He just outwrestled me.”
Medeiros was one of five Wolves to place at state. The four boys who placed helped South finish in 12th place with 48 points.
“The kids wrestled well all weekend,” Nass said. “I was really proud of what they were able to accomplish.”
Senior Adam Gascoyne was the Wolves’ highest placer behind Medeiros. He finished fourth after losing 12-3 against Bethel’s Trevor Anderson. Gascoyne trailed 4-2 entering the final round before Anderson began to pull away when he scored a near fall midway through the third period.
“I was pretty excited and happy,” said Gascoyne, who placed for the first time. “All of the time and effort I and the coaches have put in have made me what I am today.”
On the boys side, Bryce Broome (170) and Michael Beard (182) also placed for the first time at state for South. Broome defeated Kentwood’s Josh Boekelman to finish fifth.
“I feel pretty good,” Broome said. “It’s been a dream of mine to place here.”
Beard had perhaps the toughest route to placing as he lost in the opening round when he was pinned in 5:46 minutes by Union’s Cody Gromes. That meant he had to win his first two matches in the consolation bracket just to avoid elimination. Beard later was pinned in 1:19 by Auburn’s James West in his final match.
“Beard has been under the radar all year because he had a bad shoulder,” Nass said. “He had to beat a two-time state placer from Spanaway Lake to get here.”
He was referring to Zack Bickford, who placed eighth at 170 last year. Beard needed just 37 seconds to pin Bickford in the first round of the consolation bracket.
Senior Ben de Lacy also advanced to state at 145, but was pinned by Chiawana’s Clayton Smith in 2:31 and then lost an 11-5 decision against Kentlake’s Josh Becker to be eliminated.
For the girls, senior Caleenda Johnson pinned Washougal’s Erin Locke in 3:28 to become the second female wrestler in school history to place when she finished fifth at 130. To get there, Johnson had to face teammate Amberlee Brasch on Friday for a third consecutive week in the postseason. Johnson won at sub-regionals, while Brasch was victorious at regionals. This time, Johnson needed seven rounds before she earned an escape point that led to a 2-1 win.
“We practice with each other every day, so we know each other’s strengths and weaknesses,” Johnson said. “She chose the top [to start the round] because I usually can’t get out of it. This time I did.”
Johnson said she was determined to win because she is a senior. Despite that, she said it was difficult to knock her teammate out of state. Brasch, a junior, became the first female in school history to place at state last year when she finished fifth. The two practice against each other and are friends.
“I feel happy and devastated at the same time,” Johnson said.
Nass shared similar sentiments.
“[Johnson] had a great tournament,” he said. “It’s just unfortunate that she and Amberlee had to wrestle each other.”