It had been nearly two decades since Adna High School last had a wrestler compete for a state championship at Mat Classic.
The Pirates ended that drought in a big way, having both junior Braxton Dowell and sophomore Matthew Slape advance to the finals at the Class B state championships at the Tacoma Dome on February 18.
Dowell and Slape each finished second in their respective weight division and were two of five Adna wrestlers to place – the most ever for the program. The strong showing also gave the Pirates their first team trophy in school history as they finished sixth overall in the B classification with 80 point.
Tonasket won the team state championship with 184.5 points, while Reardan (141) and Ilwaco (126.5) rounded out the top three.
Adna was not the only school from the Central 2B to send a wrestler into a state finals match. Both Toledo and Winlock each had a state runner-up. The Indians received a second-place finish from senior Dalton Yoder in the 285-pound division. Winlock junior Seth Lindsey took home a second at 195.
Dowell edged Travis Nauff of Garfield/Palouse, 6-5, in the semifinals to secure his berth in the 145-pound finals where he faced Kalama senior Jacob Posey.
The two met the previous week in the regional finals with Posey emerging as the 7-4 winner.
In the rematch, the two were tied at 3 before Posey scored a third-period takedown and near fall leading to an 8-3 lead. Dowell was unable score the remainder of the third period.
Slape followed Dowell by facing Reardan senior Justis Anderson in the 152-pound finals.
The Adna junior saw his stellar season end in a 13-2 loss to Anderson, who had previously finished second twice and third once at the state tournament before claiming his first title.
Despite the defeat, Slape made some Pirates’ history, joining Brendan Nocis (2010-11) as the only wrestlers to place twice at the state tournament.
Slape, a regional champion this year, also finished fourth at 132 pounds as a freshman.
It had been 19 years since a Pirates wrestler last advanced to a state championship match. Before Dowell and Slape’s postseason runs this year, Luke Moerke was the last to accomplish the feat, finishing as the state runner-up in the 178-pound division in 1998.
Ashton Dowell, Braxton’s brother, overcame an early loss and navigated his way through the consolation bracket to post a third-place finish at 160.
After losing, 5-3, to Glen Johnson of Liberty (Spangle), Ashton Dowell, a sophomore, impressively won three consecutive loser-out matches before beating Selkirk’s Hunter Carman, 5-4, in the medal round.
The Pirates also received placings from freshman Lucas Ashley (sixth, 126) and Kameron Perry (sixth, 182). All five state placers return next year, setting Adna up as a state team title contender in 2018.
Toledo’s Yoder saw his high school career end in a heartbreaking loss in the 285-pound finals to North Beach’s Seth Bridge by injury default.
Yoder had finished second the previous two seasons in the 220-pound division and had been the top-ranked heavyweight in the state heading into the state tournament.
Yoder, who had defeated Bridge, 8-1, in the regional finals, led 1-0 in the third period before suffering a knee injury while the two wrestlers were on the ground. Following a brief injury timeout, Yoder put on a gutsy display as he continued the match.
Moments later, however, a second injury timeout occurred and Yoder, who signed his letter of intent to play football at Southern Oregon University earlier this month, was unable to continue
Lindsey faced Tonasket sophomore Isaac Gomez in the 195-pound championship in a rematch from last year’s tournament. Lindsey secured third place at 182 as a sophomore in 2016 after pinning Gomez (2:09).
Gomez would prevail narrowly in the return match, defeating Lindsey by a slim 4-3 score to capture the championship.
Linsey’s teammate Hannah Randell finished sixth in the girls’ 140-pound division, while Napavine’s Aydan Costin capped his junior season with a fourth place at 170.