Mat Classic Memories in Celebration of the 25th Anniversary

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NAME, ROLE MEMORY
Ken Alexander
Competitor (Clarkston HS, 1989)
I was a part of Mat Classic I and it was cool to see all of the mats and all of the schools under one roof. I won a State Championship at 178lbs AA, so that has to be the greatest memory.
Kevin Amsden
Coach (Manson HS (Chelan HS at the time))
I was there coaching for Chelan at the very first Mat Classic. It was quite a sight to see 18 mats going at one time and it went off without a hitch.
Steve Anderson
Mat Classic Staff/Hall of Fame Member
(2A Tournament Manager, 1989)
It was 1991, the year of Mat Classic II and I was the manager of the 2A tournament. As we were preparing for the Championship bout at 101 pounds I saw Fred Kalal, the RA Long coach, preparing his contender, a young looking freshman named Pat Connors. Pat's opponent was Sal Prado of Selah who looked like he was 35 years old if he was a day. Pat gazed up at Fred as if he had descended from Olympus just for this occasion while Fred delivered his number one speech. Pat charged onto the mat and quickly dispatched Sal 9-4. After all the shouts and hugs I saw Fred drift around behind the curtains, out of sight from most eyes. There he dropped to his knees and cried with joy for little Pat Connors. Pat went on to win three more Mat Classic Titles becoming Washington's first Four-Time Champion. Fred retired from coaching in 1994 completing a 29-year Hall of Fame career. He passed away in 2012.  
Steve Anderson
Mat Classic Staff/Hall of Fame Member
(2A Tournament Manager, 1989)
It was 1989, Mat Classic's inaugural year, and Jim Meyerhoff, Shelly Theil and I were the struggling Co-Managers of the event. We had collectively managed many tournaments but none of this size and scope. Nor had we any experience with the idiosyncrasies of the Tacoma Dome including the underlying ice rink which caused uneven mats. We hit nearly every carpet shop in Tacoma looking for pad remnants to fill in the gaps. We were using the latest technology to manage the pairings though, Apple IIe computers each with a whopping 64 kb of memory. They printed labels which then had to be affixed to the bout sheets by hand. We looked like placid ducks on the surface but underneath we were addling like crazy. There were several near disasters which were headed off just in time. Fortunately, the right wrestlers got to the right mats at the right time and the right kids won.
Craig Anderson
Spectator (Liberty HS)
In 2001 my son was a senior, wrestling at 215 lbs. He was undefeated through the entire season in his weight class. He made it to the Semi-Final. He and his opponent were tied 4-4 with 15 seconds left. Bryan made a great move and took down his opponent at the same time the official blew the whistle to end it. Did it count? We weren't sure. The officials went off to confer. They came back and awarded Bryan the two points for a takedown! Unfortunately, in the process of doing it he broke the two bones in his arm one inch from the end by the wrist. He also tore the ligaments in the wrist. They took him to Tacoma General where he was operated on that day, his wrestling career over. He made it to the Final but had to do an injury default. Too bad because he'd met the opponent in the final three times during the year and beat him all three times. Disappointing, but it was a great season.
Garrett Anderson
Competitor (Kettle Falls HS)
When I lost at Regionals by one match to go to State I was mad but coach let me go as a manager. As soon as I walked in the Dome on Thursday and saw those 24 mats I knew that that was the most amazing sight my eyes had ever seen. I loved it!
Ramon Barnes
Hall of Fame Member (Puyallup HS, 1949)
The year was 2002 when my grandson, Burke, won the State Championship at 115 pounds for the fourth time. To be there watching him and his coach, my son Brent, win this was the most exciting State Meet for me. I was very proud and still am of them both.
Burke Barnes
Competitor/4-Time State Champion (Lake Stevens HS, 2002)
My first memory of Mat Classic was watching my father's (Brent Barnes) team throw their neon yellow hats in the air after winning the 1989/90 State Title. This image has stuck with me for the past 24 years and has become a personal symbol of why I put so much time into this sport. Since then, I have been spoiled with wonderful memories. My most memorable moment is watching my childhood best friend and workout partner, Ty Human, win his first State Title as a senior in 2003, after being a finalist as a freshman. The amount of work we put in together made that moment very special. Here is to another 25 years of the greatest high school sporting event in the world.
Brent Barnes
Coach (Lake Stevens HS)
Over the years I have had so many great moments at Mat Classic from winning our first of eight State Team Titles in 1990 to watching my son win four Individual State Titles and receive his medal from his grandfather. There are so many individual and team stories that go into the quest for State that it would be hard to pick just one as the most memorable. Here is a memory that sticks in my mind however. John Wilbourne was a junior on our 2005 team. A tall, rather skinny, very mellow kid that evereyone liked and had put a lot of time into the sport. He was cerebral, very kind and extremely hardworking. John hurt his knee right before Christmas and it was bad. A complete ACL tear. The coaches, his parents and his teammates really thought he was finished for the season. There was no way he could compete on a knee without an ACL, especially in a sport like wrestling. John hung tough though and he waited, holding out hope that he could possibly get back on the mat that season. Every day he would show up to the practice room, jump on an exercise bike and pedal as his teammates endured the daily grind. He saw all the specialists and worked on his mom and dad to let him try. In the end, his mom was the one that said, "You may never get this chance again, go for it." With little more than some shadow wrestling and bike riding under his belt he competed and qualified for Districts, then Regionals and finally State. Each week the goal was not necessarily to win but to qualify. Once he made the finals of Districts and Regionals he would forfeit to preserve his knee. To be honest, I did not have huge expectations knowing it would be hard enough with two good knees for John to win or even place at the State Tournament. John however believed when no one else did and wanted to try and defy the odds. After winning his first round match, John was set to wrestle the most highly touted 4A kid in the 189 weight class and probably the state. The wrestler from Emerald Ridge had pinned all but one opponent that season. In the previous days Tacoma News Tribune the kid had been named an "untouchable" with a bad knee, being overrmatched physically by a stronger more athletic opponent and very little mat time. We told John to simply "weather the storm." Our idea was, the kid had rarely been pushed into the thrid period and if John could stay off his back and avoid getting pinned early he may give this guy a run in the third round. It turned out John barely weathered the storm and spent most of the first period on his back. As the match progressed, he slowly crept back into contention. At one time he was down 7-1 and it wasn't looking good as he was being tossed around like a rag doll. John continued to persevere and chip away at the lead with a myriad of highly technical and dazzling scoing maneuvers. His opponent having come out like a gangbuster started to tire. At the beginning of the third period winning five points we started to believe what John knew all along. With seconds left on the clock and down by one he scored the go-ahead takedown to win the match. I was so happy and so excited that I jumped out of my coaching chair and leaped into the arms of my assistant coach Andy Knutson. When I spoke to a long-time coaching friend after the match he said that he knew that John must be a great kid. When I asked why he replied, "No coach would have been that excited about a win unless the wrestler was worth cheering for and by your reaction it was obvious he was just that." We didn't cheer - we went crazy with excitement. I have coached over 30 State Champions in my career but this one match where a great kid showed great valor and bravery is one of my cheished moments. After that win in the quarters, John did make the Finals losing a close decision. Ironically, his mom had great insight, as the next year, with two good knees and a full season of competition he failed to lose. You just never know.
Alisha Beach
Competitor (Kelso HS, 2010)
During the Finals match I was wrestling Kendra Cremeans of Bethel HS and we were bothing going at it and were exhausted after all three rounds. The points were tied, so we went into overtime, not once but 3 times. After being so worn out and just exhausted to the max, the time ran out and I won the match. The look on my Kelso coaches' faces and their reaction is one that I will never forget along with how great it felt to win after so much time and dedication I put into this sport; it was all worth it in the end. To be in the Dome and wrestling in front of thousands of people for the State Title is an incredible feeling.
Diane Beauchamp
Mat Classic Staff
I was an original member of the Mat Classic Score Board staff with Venne Beauchamp and Dave Bakwill. Joe Babbitt Award winner. Marysville-Pilchuck High School parent.
Venne Beauchamp
Mat Classic Staff
An original member of the Mat Classic Score Board Staff. Joe Babbitt Award winner. Marysville-Pilchuck parent in the 1980's.
Rob Berger
Competitor (Clarkston HS, 1989)
I participated in Mat Classic I. The year prior, our State Tournament was in Cheney. I remember walking into the Tacoma Dome and seeing all 18 mats. The energy in that building was amazing. I was so proud to celebrate my title with my coach and teammates.
Larry Bridenback
Mat Classic Staff (Elma HS, 1964)
Seeing Elma become the first school to win the 1A State Championship and the 1A State Academic Championship. No other school had done that up to then.
Zac Carpenter
Competitor (Kiona-Benton HS, 1996)
In 1996, I was wrestling for Kiona-Benton. I was warming up on the floor when my head coach, Bob Mars, came over to me super excited and began hugging me and pointing to the "blank spot" on the team standings. That was the first time Ki-Be had ever cracked the board, so there was no placard made yet. That was the first of several top-10 finishes for Kiona-Benton. Bob Mars was murdered in the summer of 2004. I am sure he would love to know that several of his former wrestlers continue to get together and make the trip to Tacoma every year to watch the world's oldest and greatest sport.
John Casebeer
Mat Classic Staff and Official
My favorite memory, hands down, was Ed Aliverti's wonderful words and kindness to all. Truly a wonderful human being and friend. May he always be remembered.
Wallace Chocklon
Wrestling Official (Kent-Meridian HS, 1972)
From the first Mat Classic as a timer/scorer to being an official in the Finals between 1999-2009, the electricity generated from the opening ceremonies to the final match was something to behold. From the triumphs and losses of competitors, to the friendships and camaraderies gained between officials ... I wouldn't trade the experiences for any different life.
Andy Cook
Competitor (Burlington-Edison HS, 1996)
As a freshman at B-EHS in 1993 I was a part of one amazing run. Myself at 101, Tony Helgeson 122, Jesus Fuentes 135, Jason Granger 141, and Bryan Robertson 178 made Mat Classic history with 5 Individual Champions. It was an incredible tournament with many upsets, one going our way as Jesus beat returning two-time State Champion, former UFC Champion Jens Pulver. It was the time of our lives!
Margaret Cook
Spectator
First in 1993, the experience of my freshman son, Andy Cook, beating a tough competitor in the Semi-Finals and winning the first of five Burlington-Edison State Championships that year! Then, as a senior, Andy, at 122, was a three-time State Champion when that weight class had eight of the 16 competitors who had been State Placers or State Champions. As parents, the thrill and excitement of watching your son compete successfully is a super memorable experience.
Frank Dellino
Wrestilng Official
An important Mat Classic memory for me was officiating the event with my friend, Jack Reynolds, 38-year official, Official of the Year, and National Wrestling Hall of Fame inductee, at the 2007 Mat Classic event. Jack died in 2008.
Scott Dennis
Competitor
My favorite memory of Mat Classic I was standing on the podium with all my teammates and raising the Championship trophy. Kent Meridian was the first Team Champion of Mat Classic, coached by Dick Pruett. I remember Coach Pruett came to me before my Championship Match and told me, "don't worry about this we already won the Team Championship." So I didn't have to go out there and try to score a bunch of points. That helped me relax and go out there, wrestle well and win.
Jerome Dickson
Competitor (White River HS, 1995)
I wrestled on the 1995 White River team that won State that year. Our coaches were Mike Salcido and Bob Price. That year we took eight wrestlers: Pat Ming, Jason Palari, Jerome Dickson, Johnny Fields, Scot Tugby, Chris Hahto, Corey Cooksey and Bj Haugen; and it took every one of us to win the tournament. We won by one point over Othello, 110-109. We had a lot of "magic" that year in the tournament. Chris Hahto was our last wrestler in the Finals. His 4-3 victory over Brian Mason of O'Dea kept us on top. I am proud to be a part of one of the only two State Champion teams White River has produced. RIP Chris Hahto & Johnny Fields.
Lex Duncan
Competitor (Cascade (Everett) HS, 2011)
It was my senior year at Cascade, my first year at State. I had finally made it after failing to do so for the past three years. My first match out, I tried to throw Trevor Anderson from Bethel and got pinned. At that moment, it hit me. This was my last time wrestling, I was going to place at State. I won my next two matches and made it to the second day and gave my coaches and parents huge hugs. The next day I won my next match and then lost to Herson Rodriquez from Moses Lake and was going for fifth. My opponent in that match was Trevor Anderson from Bethel, the same guy who pinned me in the first round. I avenged my loss and beat him with a last second head and arm (my signature move). I had never been more proud of myself in wrestling than after that match. I had peaked at the perfect time, my first and only chance at a state medal. Fifth at State in 4A 140, one of the toughest weight classes and divisions in that year. I will always remember that day.
Craig Ferrier
Competitor/Coach (Adna HS)
I am fortunate to have wrestled in the first Mat Classic. It was an incredible experience that I look back at with fondness and pride. I wrestled the best tournament of my life and left the Dome with a second place medal. Now, 25 years later I am a first-year head coach of the Adna Pirates Wrestling team. I am so excited to be able to coach my own wrestlers at Mat Classic 25. I can't wait to see them share some of the experiences that I did.
Wes Fischer
Coach (Sultan HS)
Walking around the mat area near the announcers area I was amazed when a wrestler yelled "coach!" All heads in the area turned as if it was their wrestler. That told me how much the name "coach" means to all of us who have dedicated so much time to the sport we love. One other event occured at the Dome. Mike Hes put his arm around me telling me that, "we as wrestlers and coaches think we must be strong all the time." He wanted to tell me how sorry he was for the loss of my son. I will never forget his heart felt comfort offered in friendship. Mike is gone now but never to be forgotten.
Adam France
Coach (Auburn Mountainview HS)
I was a State Champion at Mat Classic I at 135 pounds. The first State Champion I coached was at 135 pounds.
Frank Fulp
Spectator  (Henry Foss HS)
My son, Scott Fulp was a participant at 135 lbs from Henry Foss in 1999. He went 1-2 Friday. At the end of the session, I climbed over to the announcer area to speak to Ed Aliverti. I just passed along to him that part of my son's determination to "make State," was the thrill of hearing Ed calling him to the mat. Ed asked his name,and graciously said of course he remembered the name :) Just a class gesture from a classy man....I miss that voice!!! Thank you.
Jaime Garza
Competitor (Moses Lake HS, 2000)
Moses Lake winning back-to-back-to-back titles in 1998, 1999, and 2000 or four titles in five years: 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002.
Jaime Sr. & Mila Garza
Spectators (Moses Lake HS, 2000, 2002)
We are the parents of Jaime and Ariel Garza from Moses Lake, WA. Our favorite Mat Classic memories would be when our boys won their State Championship titles along with the numerious Moses Lake High School Team Titles. Jaime Garza 1998 Mat Classic X 3A 101lb. Ariel Garza 2000 Mat Classic XII 4A 125lb and 2002 Mat Classic XIV 4A 135lb.
Erik Gonzalez
Coach (Port Angeles HS)
I had the privilege of being a part of three special moments at Mat Classic in my opinion. I was an assistant coach in 2001 when Randy Cuellar (103) became the first State Champion in the history of Lynden High School. I also was fortunate to coach Julio Garcia (125) to the first ever State Championship in the history of Port Angeles High School when I became the head coach there in 2003. Finally, I was able to coach John Camp (285) to an undefeated State Championship at Port Angeles High School in 2009 when he pinned all 40 of his opponents (37 in the first period including in the state finals)!
Pat Green
Grandpa (Omak HS)
Grandsons Darrick 215 lb. and Dylan Green 195 lb. were first in State in 2007 and 2012. They went from five-year-olds under Dave Michaels' Tonasket Pee Wee Wrestling program to first in State under Dewy Ives (Omak, WA.). As soon as Darrick won his final match at Districts he knew that he was going to State as he had just beaten a senior to get there. It was quite the experience for a 215 lb. freshman. Darrick said after his first match at the Dome "they ran out of ink tatting barbwire on one guy biceps." Those boys were huge to him, really buffed up. They sure intimated Darrick. Besides wrestling in the Dome it was a wonderful learning experience for a 215 lb. freshman in 2004. As a Sophomore he placed 6th, as a junior he placed 6th and as a senior he placed 1st, all at 215 lb. weight bracket. Wanting that win, he pulled it off within his self. He knew he had the tools to take it and take it he did. Knowing it was his last chance at the Dome he concentrated on what he needed to do and he did it. Dylan went as an alternate as a freshman, didn't wrestle well as he had dropped his weight from 189 lb. to 160 lb. leaving the weight that he should of stayed in to one of his teammates and filled the brackets at another weight. As a sophomore he placed 6th and as a junior he placed 2nd. He lost to Chelan by one point. He got hurt playing football so missed the first matches of his senior year. He got enough matches in to make it to Districts, placed 1st there, then got a mat disease but got it cleaned up in time to wrestle at Regionals where he placed second. Thanks to Jeff Stevie and brother Darrick they really worked him hard. Dylan Hated those two at the end of the week but they got him in shape for State. He won the 195 lb. weight class beating the Regional Champion from Lakeside. Darrick was in his corner at Districts & Regionals they almost got into it when Dylan didn't do as Brother told him to do at Regionals but at State he listened to big Brother and took the match; he knew he was in shape and had the wind. As soon as Dylan's father (Darrell) saw tat he was going to win he ran down the steps jumped the barrier. Dylan jumped first into his brothers arms and then his Dads what a wonderful celebration for two hard-working, deserving guys.
Josh Guerra
Spectator (Warden HS, 2006)
1. 2004: 125lb 1A Finals Campos vs Starret.
2. Second year in a row, same finalists met up in the same weight class. This match went into triple overtime with Ismael Campos from Warden High School defeating Albert Starret from Colfax for the second year in a row. Truly one of the best wrestling matches I have had the pleasure of experiencing! The previous year, Campos defeated Starret 10-4.
Jeff Hall
Spectator (Tahoma HS, 1973)
At least five of the other champions that year (1973) went on to wrestle in college after their high school careers: Mike Rodriguez, Tyler Sherfey, Mikey Sewell, Pat Pitsch, Yuri Malamura; however, the most compelling match that night in the Dome was the 145lb. Finals as Andrew Johnson had taken the weight class by storm his sophomore year at Tahoma. Sure enough at State, both were in the Finals, and the Dome was just rockin!! Brandon still was not 100% on his ankle, yet by the time the Finals arrived, he was ready. Now people need to remember that when Michael and his little brother Andrew showed up, they brought with them a brawling, violent, aggressive style of wrestling which we hadn't really seen before. Some people liked it, and some didn't. The officials also had split opinions about their style. Basically, they beat the crap out of their opponents, just inside the rules. It was a house hotly divided, and a Final match-up that was anticipated like no other in recent years. As it turned out, Brandon put on a clinic with blast doubles, like we hadn't seen before and very Jordan Burroughs-like; just devastating shots! When the fur stopped flying, and the dust finally settled, Brandon had won in dominant style, and the whole audience at the Dome went nuts! All the classifications, both sides, everybody was going wild!
Greg Hargrave
Coach (Tumwater HS, 1983)
In 2010, Tony Prentice and I coached together at Tumwater HS. We had the fortune to coach both of our sons (Riley Prentice & Easton Hargrave) at Mat Classic XXIII. They both were Champions the same year.
Tony Helgeson
Competitor (Granite Falls HS, 1993)
Being part of a team - Burlington Edison - that had five Individual State Champions in 1993 and winning the AA Title. As a kid it seemed insignificant because we had so many individual champions on our team as it was no big deal. Looking back; it truly was a magical night.
Ben Hill
Coach (Kiona-Benton HS)
I have many memories of Mat Classic over the years but two stick with me. In 1995 we took seven wrestlers to State; a great accomplishment for us. All but one of the wrestlers were knocked out on the first day. Our remaining wrestler went on to win his first of three State Titles in his sophomore year. His name was Garrett Knutson the first State Champion from Ki-Be high school. The second memory was when Sheridan McDonald won her first State Title of four State Titles. The girl from Kentwood had beaten Sheridan in a tournament and Sheridan wanted to wrestle her to avange the loss and I told her the only way you would wrestle her again was to see her in the State Finals. She beat a three-time State Champion on her way to the rematch with Jolene Crook-Meyers. Getting ready for the match Sheridan was extremely focused. When the whistle blew Sheridan showed us she meant business. The final score was 18-1 and Sheridan had her first State Title.
Chris Holterman
Coach (Rainier HS)
The week prior to Regionals, Lyle Cronk's (Mt. Baker HS) dad was almost killed in a logging accident. In an emotional Mat Classic (1994), Lyle overcame an 8-3 deficit in the Semi-Finals and a knee infection to go undefeated and win a State Title.
Warren Howe
Mat Classic Staff (Oak Harbor HS, Whatcom County Schools)
I remember the first Mat Classic (1989) vividly. This was to be a unique and trailblazing event!  We had advance-toured the site, and confirmed the space for the medical/training facility. Loan of furniture and equipment had been confirmed and a medical and athletic training staff recruited. When I arrived on Thursday afternoon, everything had changed!  It was chaos!  Medical had been assigned to a different space, the borrowed equipment wasn't coming, everyone was going crazy setting up and nobody was sure what the final product would look or act like. Luckily, none of our volunteers backed out at the last minute.  After several hours on the phone I was able to obtain gurneys and other equipment on loan from Tacoma General, got set up in our newly-assigned space, and everything was actually organized and ready when our volunteer staff and the wrestlers showed up the following morning. Tacoma General became a significant and much-appreciated supporter of the tournament for many years. Once we got through that first crisis I knew that we could handle pretty much anything and still have Mat Classic function well, and that's the way it has been over the ensuing quarter century. Each succeeding Mat Classic has brought changes, usually improvements, some planned and some in response to unexpected circumstances. Just when we'd thought we'd seen it all, some new and unforeseen crisis develops; thus far we have coped with each one successfully.  I am proud of the safety record at Mat Classic and the procedures we've instituted to maximize health and safety for high school wrestling throughout Washington and at Mat Classic in particular. The dedication of the medical staff, other supporting staff, coaches, administrators, wrestling officials, the WIAA, parents and wrestlers to making Mat Classic the exceptional event that it is has never wavered, and never fails to inspire me. It has been one of my greatest joys in life to be a part of this great event and tradition. (Warren B. Howe, MD, Mat Classic Medical Director 1988-2006; volunteer medical staff 1988-present).
Emma Keller
Spectator (Deer Park HS)
The last five years my school, Deer Park High School, has won the Mat Classic. Being able to cheer my team on every year is amazing. Also being able to interact with new people every year, you walk away with friends and memories you will have for the rest of your life... Thank you Mat Classic for all the memories I have to take with me after high school.
Darrell King
Coach (Auburn Mountainview HS)
My favorite memory is watching my son Tyler King's dreams come true.  After 13 years of hard work, traveling all over the nation, learning to love and evolve in "the greatest sport," not to mention the thousands of miles and hours of driving to and from all those long wrestling days, talking about and dreaming about someday being a State Champion. My memory is no different than any other parents but, I was blessed to see him win his Title from a little different angle than most, right down on the floor winning the schools first ever State Championship in it's fifth year as a school. I was asked to be the Assistant Coach at a brand new high school in Auburn called Auburn Mountainview High school. I was able to coach him in four State Tournaments and seeing him place three times was great but, what was most special was his senior year. He had lost the Sub-Regional title in a close match to Josh Musik of Enumclaw. The next week he had lost another close match in the Regional Final to the same wrestler. This tough kid from Enumclaw had also beaten him one other time in the regular season. Going into the State Tournament the odds didnt look too good but, I have never seen a kid with so much confidence and it appeared there would be a re-match for the State Title once again in the Final. Saturday morning he had his Semi-Final match and won with a fall in the first period setting up the re-match that was destined to happen. That Saturday morning he looked in my eyes first thing in the morning and all he said was "today was his day". I had never seen such conviction in anything he had said before. Saturday night the coaching staff dressed in our suits and got ready for the most important match of his life.  The match went all three rounds 0-0 until about 40 seconds were left in the final round when suddenly he got in deep on a single-leg, struggling with all his might to get the takedown he secured it with about 20 seconds left and finished with the ride out for the win.  Fourth time was the charm.  After the celebration and all the emotions and tears of joy, he put his arms around me and wispered in my ear "it was all worth it." I will never forget that moment as long as I live and nobody can ever take that from us. "The Dome" is magical for so many reasons. Just walking in can be emotional and almost spiritual. In addition, our young team won two more State Titles that night which made it even more magical.      
Kelly Knebel
Spectator (Pomeroy HS, 1985)
My husband attended the first Mat Classic and came home excited!  He said, “It is awesome. The best of the best from all classifications, all on the same floor.” I came from a basketball loving family. Over the years my family and I have become wrestling fans. What other sport do you have no timeouts, no excuses, and really not a lot of glory with the physical and mental demands that make you stronger and prepare you for life? Qualities that we find necessary in life just go hand-in-hand with wrestling. Twenty-two years ago I remember taking my toddler boy to the Tacoma Dome and watching his dad coach, and his idols wrestle. When Pomeroy had Michael Denny wrestling in the Championship match I remember tears coming to my eyes as I watched the Parade of Champions, and Ed Aliverti’s rendition of America. The medal ceremony was so professionally done. I was so proud of our athletes' accomplishments. I have witnessed as a coach’s wife, spectator, and parent the highs and the true lows of wrestling. I have felt the pain and agony of physical and mental hurts from the stands. The Mat Classic will always be special. Every wrestler has a story and I am proud of each and every one. Last year as my family left the Dome I remember thinking it was over, but what good memories I will always have of the Mat Classic.  May the lessons we learn at the Dome prepare us for life. Kelly Knebel, Mom of Tye and Tory Knebel and wife of Fred.
Gary Knutzen
Hall of Fame Member/Official (Burlington-Edison HS, 1956)
The sport of wrestling has left me great memories too many to count. My grandest Mat Classic memory has to go back to 2007 when I had the priviledge and honor of presenting my granddaughter Kelsy Klein from Hoquiam High School the 1st place medal as the first 125 lb. Girls State Wrestling Champion.
Charles Liggett
Other
My best memory is from 2001 Mat Classic XIII, after it was all over and the dust had settled in the 4A Division. Spanaway Lake and Capital were tied for first with 79 points and Kentwood was in third place with 78.5 points.
Richard Linsenmayer
Coach/Hall of Fame Member
Cash Stone telling me that my wrestler injured in a match with a wrestler of his would come back and win the next year, which he did.   
Robert Lynn
Coach (Hudsons Bay HS)
Two State Champions (1989), two State Champions and one runner-up in 1990 and team second in State is a good memory.  My other memory is that I said, "You sure could put a lot of hay in this place." I was in awe of the size and all the mats laid out.
Diego Martinez
Coach (Mt. Tahoma HS, 2005)
Coaching the first ever Tacoma girls team to bring home medals, having the first Tacoma girl in the Finals and bringing a 5th in State placing as a team all in the same year as a first year high school coach.
Jim McConnell
Coach (Cheney HS, 1973)
First Mat Classic in Tacoma Dome 1989. I was assistant coach with head coach Sam Indorf (WA Hall of Fame and recently deceased). We were the 1st State AA Team Champions at the first Mat classic. Still today, it is the only State Wrestling Championship for Cheney High School. We had most likely one of the strongest teams in Cheney High School Wrestling history and proved it as we swept through Districts, Regionals and State. I am now a 34 year educator and fondly remember our State Championship. Sam Indorf was well respected and very much a mentor to the State of WA Wrestling program and to me as I wrestled for him and coached with him at Cheney. I still remain in close contact with many of the wrestlers from that Championship team and consider the 1989 year as my coaching career highlight. Jim McConnell
Veronica Mendoza
Competitor (Kelso HS, 2007)
I remember walking out with the other 119lb wrestlers before my final match at State, I was so nervous! Ironically, being overly nervous about my matches became the only emotion I could feel on the mat. That's really why I did so well. My senses were heightened, quick-twitch muscles alert, I was ready for whatever she was about to throw out. Those are some good memories. 
Dave Mitchell
Coach/Hall of Fame Member (Tonasket HS)
Every hug and high-five I get at the Dome is a special memory for me. Coaching my three sons Martin, Patrick and Kevin to State Championships was especially rewarding. When Patrick hit a cheap-tilt with a short time left to win his Title and then do a somersault over to me was awesome. When Kevin got a takedown and nearfall over a returning State Champion to win his second State Title; it was awesome. I always wear a jacket and my best cowboy boots for the Finals. When Martin wrestled for his fourth State Title, the stress was immense. I was sweating so much my boots were full of water and I thought I'd have a heat stroke, but I was afraid to take off my jacket during the match for fear of sending the wrong message when he looked over at the coaches. He won, the jacket came off, and I'll never forget the relief, joy, and the bear hug I got from him.
Jeff Nelson
Coach (Fife HS)
One of our kids, Ed Rossich, was getting warmed up for his State Championship final. Ed Aliverti started singing his beautiful version of the National Anthem. I looked over at Ed. He had tears streaming down his face as that wonderful, proud, strong voice filled the dome. I still get chills remembering how overcome with emotion a teenager became by Mr. Aliverti's wonderful voice. That memory will live with me forever.
Ashlee Phy
Competitor (Mount Baker HS, 2008)
My favorite Mat Classic Memory has to be in 2006 practicing with the Mount Baker Mountianeers in the Tacoma dome the day before the State Tournament. I had never seen so many wrestling mats and I was in awe. From that point forward I was hooked on wrestling and was determined to make it back to the Dome to wrestle on the those mats the following years.
Stark Porter
Mat Classic Staff (Liberty HS)
For me, it is the "thank-you's" we so often receive for those experiencing Mat Classic for the first time.  Over the years, parents, coaches, family and friends are always in awe and very appreciative of the opportunity to witness and/or be a part of such an outstanding event. I want to take this moment to thank Jim Meyerhoff for bringing me on board, allowing me to be a part of Mat Classic.
Marc Requa
Competitor (Edmonds HS, 1990)
Being at the first Mat Classic and winning a State Title listening to the crowd and Ed Aliverti yell over the PA ..."and the Tiger of Edmonds High roared!" Was an experience I'll never forget.
Jim Richards
Mat Classic Staff (Bellevue HS, Sammamish HS)
At M.C.I we had great problems getting the mats to lay down flat over the hocky rink curb that had not been removed.We worked until midnight to pad the mats so the wresters didn't have to step over the bump. Another memory is the first time that Ed sang his rendition of America the Beautiful was a special night. Also, the 50th year award ceremony of State Wrestling was a very special presentation as I have been to every state meet since 1960, first as a coach then as MC staff and then on the Medical staff as an A.T.C.  
Ralph Rise
Coach (Lake Roosevelt HS)
The funniest memory I have is from the first year, first weigh in. The scales were all out in the open, hundreds of naked wrestlers in the middle of the Tacoma Dome and hundreds of cheerleaders in the stands. The cheerleaders were going nuts in the stands, embarrassed with nowhere to go and the wrestlers couldn't care less. They wanted to get through weigh-ins and go eat. Saturday's weigh-in had a curtain system for the scales.
Jerry Scheidt
Coach (Enumclaw HS)
In 2009, it was our second year of girls wrestling at Enumclaw High School. We took five girls to the State Tournament hoping we might get someone to place. However, at 171 lbs we had a first-year wrestler, Chantelle Bailey, win the State Championship by pinning her way through the Finals. The most memorable thing about her tournament was her victories over Jessie Christensen of Rogers of Puyallup in the Semi-Finals and Betty Granados of Fife in the Finals. She had lost to both of these athletes in the prior weeks and then came back and beat them to capture the State Title. It was remarkable. Chantelle went on to repeat as the 171 lb State Champion in 2010 going undefeated with a record of 32-0.
Austin Springer
Competitor (Heritage HS)
When Bill Conrad was inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Scott Spruill
Yakima Herald Reporter
It’s hard to believe that Mat Classic turns the ripe old age of 25 this weekend. The WIAA has been commemorating the milestone by soliciting favorite memories from athletes, coaches and fans, and I certainly have plenty. Like wondering in horror, the first time I stepped in the Tacoma Dome for the all-inclusive State Wrestling Championships, how in the world I would cover the wall-to-wall event. But for someone who has not missed a single Mat Classic while here at the Herald-Republic, my favorite memory has nothing to do with wrestling and can be summed up in two words.Child birth. Not me personally, you understand, although recent complications with appendicitis makes me think I’ve at least had a glimpse of it. No, this
was my wife, Joan, whose efforts to set a state record for fastest labor and delivery led me to whiff on two things on Feb.  16, 1991 – the Championhip Finals of Mat Classic III and the birth of our daughter, Kristine. What kind of man leaves his hugely pregnant wife in Yakima while dashing to the westside on a multi-day business trip? One who was led to believe she was still a week away, one who was certain he could return very quickly if need be and one who was told after Friday’s quarterfinals that everything seemed fine. Which it was. Until just after we spoke and I ventured across the street to a neighboring hotel to have a nightcap with my good friend and colleague Jeff Morrow from the Tri-City Herald. We found the lounge to be too crowded and noisy so we did the next best thing, grabbing a six-pack and relaxing in his room while complaining and laughing about this and that. All the while the ball in Times Square was beginning to drop for Joan, and what started as simple cramps – around
the time of my status-check call – had become contractions. So Joan called my hotel. No luck. I told her I might cross the street for a visit to the lounge with some of the media gang, so she had me paged in the lobby and lounge there. Again, no luck. So the blessed act was happening and I was sucking down brews in a Fife hotel. And this was long before the days of cell phones. That’s Joan’s husband – what a guy! When the beer ran out and Jeff and I tired of ranting and raving, I headed down the elevator and ran into Grandview coach Richard Esparza, who said, “Hey, Scott, your wife’s in labor. You know that, right?” He had been in the lobby and heard the page. Holy crap! I sprinted across the street and found a note on my door and a message on the phone. I called the hospital and talked to a nurse who
considered my estimated drive time and Joan’s present condition and
basically said I had two chances: Slim and none. Nonsense. I was focused, determined and equipped with an eager Mazda MX-6 and freeway all the way home. I flew. But so did Kristine. Within one hour of checking into the hospital, Joan gave birth at 3:37 a.m. – while I was somewhere around Cle Elum convinced I would make it. My daughter was an hour old when I finally showed up, still flush with adrenaline and excitement. When I held her for the first time she opened one critical eye as if to say, “Look, pal, I wait for no man.” Kristine turns 22 on Saturday and that championship day in 1991 remains the only part of Mat Classic
history that I’ve missed. I’ve covered well over 100 State Champions in the Dome and I’m sorry I missed the seven from that year, which included one of Esparza’s kids, George Graf.
But as Robin Williams’ line from Good Will Hunting goes, “Sorry guys, I gotta see about a girl.”
Cash Stone
Coach/Hall of Fame Member (Mead HS)
The highlight year of the Mat Classic for me is 1993. My Mead Panthers qualified six wrestlers for the 3A State Meet.  My high school wrestling Alma Mater, Burlington-Edison Tigers, qualified five wrestlers for the 2A State Meet. At the State Tournament, my Mead Panthers showed their talent and their grit.  All six wrestlers placed in the top four. Donnie Rein-Champion 148. Shaun Flanigan 2nd 135. Seth Kernodle 2nd 158. Troy Hughes 2nd 168. Adam Finley 4th 141. Jon Lamb 4th 275. The Mead Panthers took first with 110 pts.  Oak Harbor was second with 92 pts. Mike Compton and his Burlington-Edison Tigers did the impossible in the 2A State Meet.  All five of Mike's wrestlers were State Champions. Andy Cook 101. Tony Helgeson 122. Jesue Fuentes 135. Jason Granger 141. Bryan Robertson 178. The Tigers took first with 130.5 points. East Valley of Spokane took second with 104. To share that State Title experience with Mike was serendipitous. We remain friends to this day. Thanks for letting me share this highlight of the fantastic Mat Classic that has become the very fabric of Washington State Wrestling. 
Jose Tanguma
Competitor (Warden HS, 2003)
My best memory will have to be when I won my third State Title at 119 pounds in 2003 and our team (Warden High) also set the State Record for highest team score in the State Tournament.
Lena Tibbelin
Media
At the 2003 Mat Classic the KingCo League was about to write league history as senior Aaron Pedeferri of Cedarcrest was going for his third State Title. I covered the league for the King County Journal (Bellevue) and wasn't going to miss a second of the action, so I brought my then 5-month-old son in a baby carrier to the Dome for the Friday morning session. As I ran around between mats on the floor, my son fell asleep in the arms of Walt Pedeferri, Aaron's father, in the stands as the wrestling matches continued on the floor. After having handed over my son to my husband in the parking lot just before the afternoon session, I could then continue to follow a magical tournament for KingCo wrestlers. Pedeferri won the 125-pound weight class, his third State Title in the Class 3A tournament, with a 5-0 decision. His teammate senior Darren DeBoer won the 135-pound Final, ripping of his face mask showing the tears which were streaming down of happiness and relief of finally getting his first title. A few minutes later, I had KingCo wrestlers in both the 3A & 4A 140-pound finals, I sat in-between the two mats as BJ Ward of Liberty (Renton) won in Class 3A, while Inglemoor's Mikey Sewell snatched up the 4A Title, his first of three consecutive State Titles. Sewell, then a sophomore, walked in circles around the mat afterwards on the cellphone with his brother simply stating: "I just won state." KingCo finished with another pair of runner-ups, Justin Studer of Liberty (152 in 3A) and Scott LaBrash of Bothell (189 in 4A) and Cedarcrest took third in the team standings with just a handful of wrestlers. By the time I walked out of the Dome late Saturday night, I was buzzing with excitement and happiness for "my" wrestlers I only had one thought in my head for my Monday column: "Is it November yet?"
Tom Tripple
Coach (Governor John R. Rogers HS)
Kylah Williams 171 lb Girl's Academic State Champion from Governor John R Rogers High School in Puyallup come from behind to decision Jessie Vitartas from Klahowya 9-8 in an exciting match to become Governor John R Rogers High School's first Girls Wrestling State Champion.       
Julie Tyler
Spectator
 In 2004, 215 lb. wrestler Jay Carlile defeated Matt Leonard 8-4 in the 4A State Championship  coached by his uncle Dave Carlile of Battle Ground High School.
Chuck Veloni
Coach (Aberdeen HS)
It was the day after my sister gave birth to her and her husband's first child (Feb 20th, 1997). Her husband, Jay Izatt, had been chosen to serve as a referee to Mat Classic that year. Jay spent all night in a hospital in Olympia with my sister as she gave birth to my nephew. In the morning he drove to the Tacoma Dome to fulfill his duties. As the start of Mat Classic was about to get underway, the great announcer, Ed Aliverti, got word of this and momentarily halted the start of wrestling to announce my brother-in-law's whirlwind two-days and recognized him on the mat that he was officiating on. This is what separates this sport from any other, the willingness to share all of our victories, not just the ones that take place on the mat.
Brandon Walsh
Coach (Almira Coulee Hartline, 1991)
In 1990 I was a senior at Almira-Coulee-Hartline High School. That was the first year that wrestling was offered at our school and I decided to give it a try. Through hard work and some good fortune I was able to qualify for Mat Classic III that season.  Walking into the Tacoma Dome for workouts for the first time on Thursday afternoon will forever remain my favorite memory of Mat Classic. Coming from a small school with a very limited experience in the sport of wrestling, that day was a revelation to me, and my love affair with the sport was born in that instant. I have not missed a tournament since. After a couple of years of wrestling in college I started coaching. In 1995 I helped coach my brother to an A/B heavyweight State Championship at ACH (that's my second favorite moment). I've helped coach nine other State Champions at ACH since that time. Each of those experiences was special to me in its own way. I've had many other great memories and experiences as well, such as watching Pat Connors get a standing ovation for being the first in Washington wrestling history to win four Ttate Titles, hearing Ed Aliverti sing "America", enjoying the Parade of Champions, or receiving the 1B/2B Coach of the Year Award. For me though, none of those compare to the thrill of walking into the Dome for the first time back in 1991.  I'm looking forward to the next 25 years of attending Mat Classic.
James Watkins
Competitor (John R. Rogers HS, 1989)
My favorite moment was after winning the 3A Hwt. State Championship in 1989. I stood on the podium with my teammates and we were honored as a team for finishing second that year. And while we stood there the song that began playing was Whitney Houston's "Give me one moment in time" which was the song that our coach Ken Pelo picked as a theme for that year.  
Lauren Watts
Competitor (Burlington-Edison HS, 2009)
Day two of the Mat Classic my senior year in 2009, second match was against a friend I had made over the course of the season. It was round two and I had her in near side cradle. I was digging so hard into the mat to roll her over that the rubber on the bottom of my shoe tore in half. To this day those shoes have been retired hanging on my wall. After that match I felt like the Champion. I finished the tournament in 6th place. Thanks to the girls for letting me borrow a pair of shoes two sizes too small to finish the tournament.
Darrel White
Coach/ Hall of Fame Member (Warden, Zillah, Clover Park)
Since its inception in 1989, Mat Classic has continued to be the premier high school State Wrestling Tournament in the U.S. I was coaching in Alaska in 1989 and even in the wilds of America's last frontier reports of its success reached epic proportions. So much so that, when I retired from teaching in Alaska in June 1989 and returned to Washington to teach and coach, I placed attending Mat Classic right at the top of my list of gotta do's. I was not disappointed! Mat Classic certainly lived up to its billing and was absolutely amazing! I spent almost as much time wandering around the Tacoma Dome in a wrestling-induced daze as I did coaching my four Zillah qualifiers in 1990. I remember telling my wife Linda following that first Mat Classic experience that if I had to have the "big one" that I would prefer to have it happen at Mat Classic since I would already be in heaven!  Another great memory associated with Mat Classic was the first time our Zillah team made the top-10 board. We and our fans took dozens of photos of that first posting. I wanted to be sure to capture a record of it before we slipped off again!  The 1990 Mat Classic Finals featured one of the greatest wrestling matches that I have ever seen. Hudson Bay's Stoney Meyers and Ferndale's Jason Muggy met in the 148 pound Finals at 3A and absolutely burned up the mats! Muggy won with a last second 6-5 victory but both were true champions! My personal highlight, however, has to have been my team's first day performance in Mat Classic XI. Zillah was not expected to be a serious contender in 1999 and had never won a State Wrestling Title but our kids simply would not be denied. They strung together one of the most miraculous series of upsets and pins that I have ever witnessed and vaulted us past the favorites putting us solidly into first place. It was totally unexpected and that made it particularly memorable. Beyond the wrestling itself, my best memories of Mat Classic all involve people; the wrestlers, coaches, tournament directors, officials and staff. The incomparable Ed Aliverti's announcing and his moving renditions of the National Anthem, the long-time dedication of Dr. Warren Howe, Tom Tipton and others who worked so tirelessly behind the scenes to make Mat Classic possible. The mass movement of coaches, former athletes and admirers toward Eric Beardsley as he entered the Dome each year is another special memory. It always seemed to me that the appearance of Beardsley's signature fedora drew us like moths to a bright light. His positive  influence as a coach and mentor influenced so many! The recognition of the members of Washington's Wrestling Hall of Fame was always a highlight and inspiration as well. Truly, there is nothing like Mat Classic!
George Wilfong
Coach/Hall of Fame Member/Former Mat Classic Staff
(Puyallup HS)
Being a part of State Wrestling's 50-year Anniversary was great. However, my personal favorite happened two times: in 2000, two of my former wrestlers: Tom Wilfong, Stanwood HS and Bryan Bartelson, Orting HS were chosen as State Coach of the Year and again in 2009 Mike Sowards,Orting HS and Jim Meyerhoff, Emerald Ridge HS were also selected as State Coach of the Year for their respective school classifications. I am very proud of these guys.
Bronk Williams
Competitor (Ilwaco HS, 1990)
I remember being a junior and coming to this event from a small A-sized school. I was amazed at the size of the venue and the amount of mats and wrestlers that were there. I was a little scared and stunned when my coach showed me the bracket for who I would be wrestling against, and I saw that his name was Matt Lucky. How would I ever beat someone named Matt Lucky?!?! I had a wonderful experience and would have loved to have made it back my senior year, but an injury kept me from participating. I still have the original t-shirt sold at the concessions.
Gary Witherspoon
Competitor (Marysville-Pilchuck HS, 1989)
It was nice to see wrestlers from all divisions in one place. For a competitor and wrestling fan, it was a wrestler's dream. I highly enjoyed the recognition of the wrestlers. I'm glad to see that the Mat Classic is still going strong.


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