Hanford Champion
Year: 2011
Team: Wrestling
Name: Matt Owens
State Tournament - Second Place
Dustin Utecht and Matt Owens never made any bones about it. They had one target in their sights from the start of the season.

Owens, the Hanford senior who placed fourth at state last season, came to Mat Classic XXIII with just one thing on his mind: winning the 145-pound 3A state title.

Utecht, a senior at Richland who placed fifth last season, came to the Tacoma Dome with every intention of beating Mead's Jeremy Golding. And as Golding was a returning state champion and favored to wear the 4A 135 crown, a win over him likely would come only in the final.

Unfortunately for the good friends, they each came up short Saturday night.

Utecht lost to Golding 3-1, the fourth time this season he has come close to knocking off the champ.

"It slipped through my fingers," he said. "It happens."

Owens lost 9-6 to Camas' Miguel Salamanca. A takedown on the edge of the mat at the end of the second period and another midway through the third turned the tide. Owens, down five with time running out, had to pull out all the stops.

"I was trying to throw him, and I'm not a thrower," he said. "I had to do some stuff that I don't always do."

While the Tri-City schools came up empty in the 3A and 4A finals, Moses Lake got repeat titles from Brian Chamberlain at 215 and Kabe Fluaitt at 285 and finished second to Lake Stevens in the 4A team race.

"I told my mom when I was a kid that I wanted to be a three-time state champion," said Chamberlain, who will wrestle at Utah Valley State next season. "She said keep dreaming. I got two anyway."

The Chiefs added two more runners-up, Nico Moreno at 145 and Jonathan Perales at 160, and also got medals from Herson Rodriguez (fourth at 140), Omar Suarez (sixth at 125) and Beau Gleed (eighth at 119).

Utecht gave up a first-period takedown to Golding but still trailed just 3-1 in the third. But the Mead junior rode him the entire period.

"He's really good on defense," Utecht summed up.

Owens advanced to the final with an 8-6 win over Pasco's Cody Rush, who went on to place fourth.

The pair had split their previous two matches, with Owens winning a decision at the end of the regular season and Rush pinning Owens in the district semifinals.

This time, Owens did his best to keep the action off the mat, twice cutting Rush loose after a takedown and reversal.

Rush took a 5-4 lead with a head-and-arm early in the third period before Owens reversed and again cut him loose.

With the score tied at 6 and a minute left, the match seemed headed for overtime. But Owens shot in on Rush's legs and got him to the mat. It took the final 20 seconds of the match, but the takedown finally was awarded and Owens had the 8-6 win.

Salamanca broke up a potential CBBN monopoly on the weight with his 8-7 four-overtime win over Sunnyside's Josh Romero, though not without plenty of controversy.

After a scoreless first overtime, Romero rode out Salamanca in the first half of the second OT. All he needed was an escape in 30 seconds and the match was his.

Camas elected to start in the neutral position, giving Romero the free escape but giving himself the full 30 seconds to get a takedown.

Instead, in the final 10 seconds, Romero was hit with a penalty point for grabbing Salamanca's headgear, which brought the Sunnyside coaches leaping out of their chairs in protest.

With the score tied, Romero seemed to get a takedown in the closing seconds but couldn't get the call at the edge of the mat. Instead, the match went to a third overtime, with Romero starting down and needing to escape for the win.

Instead, he was hit with a false start, his third of the match, including an earlier one that seemed to come on an inadvertent whistle from another mat.

But the call went against Sunnyside, ending Romero's hopes for the final.

It was a mixed early afternoon for the Tri-City teams. While Utecht and Owens won their respective semifinals and guys like Chiawana's Nick Garcia and Kamiakin's Sisto Santana Pina had their hands raised after their last match of the season, most wound up on the short end of their placing matches.

Richland's Josh Andrew (112) and Kyler Mars (119) finished sixth in the 4A brackets, as did Chiawana's Chris Montelongo, who at 103 pounds became the school's first state placer (contrary to previous reports that the Riverhawks had a placer last season).

He was later joined by Garcia and Daniel Ramirez, who placed fourth at 145 and, at least for now, is the second-year school's highest placer.

"This kid has surprised me every single round," Riverhawks coach Jack Anderson said of his senior co-captain, who is in just his second year of wrestling. "He's the hardest worker I've ever coached in my life, and it's paying off right now."

Unlike many others winding down a hectic two days late in the early-afternoon matches, Garcia went out with an explosive performance in his 14-2 win for fifth.

"It's not what I wanted, though," said Garcia, who was thinking about a top-three finish. Still, he wasn't about to let any disappointment spoil his match for fifth.

"It was my last match of my high school career. I figured I might as well leave it all out there. There was no way I was going home with sixth place."

Kamiakin's sophomores finished strong, Pina getting third at 160 and Harley Kolp seventh at 119.

"I wanted to come in here and end with a winning record, and that's what I did," said Kolp, who won three of his five matches in his first visit to the Tacoma Dome mats.

"It was nerve-wracking -- a lot of noise, a lot of people."

Pina secured a 3-1 victory for third with a takedown in the final 30 seconds.

Rush and Romero went down to the wire for third-fourth, as they had in the district and regional championships. But just as before, Romero held on for a close win, this time 3-2.

Sunnyside rallied from a tough morning -- none of the Grizzlies' five semifinalists made the finals -- with a strong afternoon but had to settle for sixth in the team standings.

Romero and Adam Peters (285) finished third, Jesse Barajas (103) and Rigo Valdez (130) fourth and Isaac Guerrero (130) fifth.

Peters said he was "just crushed" when his bid to become Sunnyside's first heavyweight champion was derailed when he lost 201 to Mount Si's Josh Mitchell in the semifinals.

But he bounced back with 6-1 and 5-2 victories for a positive finish to his final season in Grizzlies gear.

"Me and Josh came in going for first place, and that got messed up," Peters said. "But we came back to take third."