Oak Harbor’s Jon Garcia might have missed his chance to capture a state title at last weekend’s Mat Classic, but he didn’t let that get him down.
After narrowly losing his quarterfinal matchup, Garcia fought his way back through the consolation bracket to win his final four matches and take third-place in the 119-pound weight class, the Wildcats best showing in the two-day tournament held at the Tacoma Dome.
“Jon worked extremly hard this year and made it a goal to be a champion,” said his head coach Brian Farmer. “He doesn’t say a lot of words but he just wants to win. He has a tremendous heart and when it really counted he proved to be an excellent wrestler.”
Garcia began the tournament with a third-round pin over Tahoma’s John Maryanski. Down by four points in the final round, Garcia got Maryanski on his back with a throw and scored the pin at the 4:34 mark to move to the quarterfinals.
“He had to throw the guy,” said Farmer. “He was down and he needed that. You don’t want to have to rely on a throw all the time, but Jon’s been getting it this year.”
In the quarterfinals, Garcia lost 5-3 to Brett Wagner of Rogers (Puyallup). Trailing most of the way, Garcia didn’t have many chances to score against Wagner in a hard-fought match. He scored an escape in the closing seconds, but didn’t have enough time to go for a match-tying takedown.
In his final match of Friday, Garcia knocked of Robert Davis of Foss 8-2 in a match that he controlled the entire way. He started Saturday’s round of matches by beating Gonzaga’s Luke Kuhn 6-5.
That victory set Garcia up against a familiar foe, Lake Stevens’ Ty Human. Human knocked off Garcia during the regular season, but he gained a bit of revenge by decisioning the Viking junior in the regional semifinal. In the rubber-match, Garcia had Human’s number again, this time pinning him at the 2:06 mark. Down 2-0 after the first-round, Garcia chose both wrestlers in the neutral (up) position and hit a twister against Human sticking him for the pin.
Garcia’s victory over Human put him in the third/fourth-place match where he took on Heritage’s Jesse Getchell, the 112-pound state champion from last year. Garcia dominated Getchell, putting him on his back and almost earning a pin as time ran out in the third period. Instead Garcia settled for a 15-5 victory.
“He just stepped it up a notch and kept scoring points, it wasn’t even close,” said Farmer. “It was just a super-dominent performance by Jon.”
The 119-pound weight class proved to be one of the wildest in the tourney. Tony Kubec, the No. 1 seed from Cascade who pinned Garcia in the regional final on Feb. 9, lost his first two matches and was eliminated on Friday. Wagner, who gave Garcia his only loss of the meet placed sixth. South Kitsap’s Derek Kipperberg, the third-place wrestler at regionals behind Garcia and Kubec, won the state title by defeating Kamiakin’s Tyler Sherfey.
“We thought going in that the 119 class was one of the toughest if not the toughest classes in the tournament,” Farmer said. “For Jon to finish were he did just solidified what he did all season and was a great way to end his career.”
The Wildcats three other grapplers at the Mat Classic didn’t fare as well as Garcia.
Brent Thompson, who captured the regional title in the 145-pound weight class the previous weekend, was upset in the first round by Central Valley’s John Daschbach 13-2. In the consolation bracket Thompson faced Erik Honda of Decatur in a loser-out match. Trailing Honda 2-0 after the opening round, the senior scored eight points in the second period and looked to have the match in hand, nearly scoring a pin. In the final round Honda pulled off a near impossible rally, putting Thompson on his back twice and winning the match 12-10.
In the 215-pound weight class senior Chris Whiteman lost his opening round match 10-2 to Shelton’s Cody Simmons. Whiteman was then knocked out of the tourney after a narrow 6-5 loss to Chris Walsh of Lincoln.
“Chris and Brent did a super job for us all year,” said Farmer. “They’re both winners and finishing in the top 16 in the state is quite an accomplishment.”
Sophomore Patrick O’Brien had his hands full in his opening-round match, losing 23-5 to the eventual second-place finisher Paul Riener of Walla Walla. In the consolation round, O’Brien trailed Bellermine Prep’s Sean Kelly 5-2 and was nearly pinned before coming back in the third round to pick up an 11-7 victory. O’Brien lost his next match 9-6 to Moses Lake’s Tey Lusk in the final seconds, but gained invaluable experience that he can use the next two years.
“For a sophomore, Patrick did very well,” said Farmer. “He could have been pinned by (Kelly) in the first round but he came back and beat a real good kid. I told him that I’ve seen some of his best wrestling when his back is against the wall.”
As a team the Wildcats tied Mountain View for 28th place in State with 20 points. Moses Lake won the team title with 95 points.
“Obviously the high was with Jon placing third, and Patrick was 30 seconds away from placing in the top eight,” said Farmer. “ For our other two kids they have nothing to be ashamed of. Anything can happen at state.”
Oak Harbor Mat Classic wrestling results:
Jon Garcia (119 pounds): First round: Garcia pinned Maryanski (Tahoma) 4:34. Quarterfinals: Wagner (Rogers) d. Garcia 5-3. Consolations: Garcia d. Davis (Foss) 8-3. Garcia d. Kuhn (Gonzaga) 6-5. Garcia pinned Human (Lake Stevens) 2:06. Third-place match: Garcia d. Getchell (Heritage) 15-5.
Brent Thompson (145 pounds): First round: Daschbach (Central Valley) d. Thompson 13-2. Consolation: Honda (Decatur) d. Thompson 12-10.
Patrick O’Brien (171 pounds): First round: Riener (Walla Walla) TF O’Brien 23-5. Consolation: O’Brien d. Kelly (Bellermine) 11-7. Lusk (Moses Lake) d. O’Brien 9-6.
Chris Whiteman (215 pounds): First round: Simmons (Shelton) d. Whiteman 10-2. Consolation: Walsh (Lincoln) d. Whiteman 6-5.