Three move on to state

When the dust finally settled at the 4A Regional I championships Saturday, three Oak Harbor wrestlers left Maple Valley with automatic berths to the Mat Classic this weekend at the Tacoma Dome.

“It was a brutal battle in what many consider the toughest region in the state,” Wildcat coach Brian Farmer said.

Junior Karlson Miller (103), junior Chris Wichers (140) and senior Tony Nicolas (145) all finished in the top four, earning their first ever trips to the state tournament.

“They all did a great job,” Farmer said.

After losing a tough semi-final match to Kenny Kubec of Marysville-Pilchuck, Miller fought back for a big 7-6 decision over Chase Smith of Enumclaw in the consolation match.

“He came back and wrestled really well to place,” Farmer said.

Miller has his first ever state bout against Joe Vela of Moses Lake at 10 a.m., on Friday.

Wichers was in contention to win his title match, but went down with a strained tendon in his leg during the second round of his championship bout with Kurt Schwartz of Auburn.

“That was unfortunate,” Farmer said. “He wrestled extremely well to get there.”

Farmer expects Wichers to be able to compete in his 11:30 a.m. first round match against Jimmy Bennefield of Lake Washington.

A determined Nicolas worked his way to the championship bout against Ryan Paulson of Auburn-Riverside, before losing a 12-5 decision. In his senior year, Nicolas is just glad to finally make his way to Tacoma.

“It’s about time,” he said smiling.

Nicolas takes on Jon Porter of Evergreen (Vancouver) at 11:40 on Friday.

Seniors Chad Tacia (135), Robert Taflinger (160), Patrick O’Brien (170) and Blake Ward (215) all finished in fifth place at the regional tournament, earning alternate positions at the state meet.

Oak Harbor’s combined team effort gained them a fourth place overall finish at the tournament with 111 points. Lake Stevens won the region with 196.5 points, while sending nine wrestlers to the Mat Classic. Auburn (139) and Enumclaw (123) finished second and third respectively.

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