Stunning pin gives Blanchet's Johnson a title | 3A, 2A, 1A, B Wrestling
Peter Johnson trailed Jake Ferris of Wilson 9-2 before scoring a dramatic pin with 8.8 seconds remaining to win the Class 3A 195-pound state title.
Special to The Seattle Times
TACOMA — It looked like there was no chance Bishop Blanchet wrestler Peter Johnson would exorcise the demons.
But Johnson flipped a sure loss upside down and lifted a huge weight from his shoulders Saturday night at Mat Classic XXIV at the Tacoma Dome.
With nothing to lose and being dominated by Wilson junior Jake Ferris, who led 9-2, Johnson pulled off the most improbable reversal of fortune and scored a pin with 8.8 seconds left to claim the Class 3A state championship at 195 pounds.
"It was like a walkoff home run in the 20th inning," said Johnson, who finished the season 38-2, but appeared as shocked as anyone by his comeback.
"I know we (Metro League wrestlers) hadn't had a champ in a long time, and we don't get the respect we deserve. To win one for Metro makes this even better," said Johnson, a state runner-up a year ago.
"After losing last year, I felt like I let everyone in Seattle down, especially the Metro League. The weight's off my shoulders."
Johnson is believed to be only the second state champion from the Metro League and first since Blanchet's Kevin Riley won at 135 pounds in 1983. Johnson fell 3-1 in overtime to Dustin Johnson of University of Spokane in the 189 finals and it was his lone loss in 42 matches last season.
It looked like it would be two finals, two defeats for Johnson.
"I knew I was down quite a bit, but something we talk about is, 'Never give up'." I left here last year crying, and that loss ripped my heart out," Johnson said. "I was depressed for a month after last year. I used it as fuel. I love to win, I guess."
Johnson's pin attempt started when Ferris went for a pin, but lifted the Blanchet wrestler off the ground. That's when Johnson seized his final opportunity with about 34 seconds remaining, and then nearly rocked the pin attempt too far.
"I felt him lift me up, and I said, 'This is my shot, I've got to throw it,'" he said. "It worked and I'm here. I want to thank everyone who's ever helped me out, all my coaches and the fans who are here.
"It's the most magical feeling. I've been working all year for this."
Blanchet coach Jim Rohr was just plain proud.
"He's fought hard to come back after losing last year when he took second," he said. "That was scary, because Peter was down and took the kid to his back and started to re-roll him and he almost lost control.
"He got back on him, and stuck him. That was sweet. That's by far his biggest comeback win."
Enumclaw effectively sewed up the team title — the Hornets' fourth in five years — when juniors Tyke Reid (120) and Lucas Somera (138) reached their respective championship matches. The Hornets outdistanced Yelm 126-104. The Tornadoes are the only school between Enumclaw and five titles in a row; Yelm won in 2010.
Enumclaw had one champion, Somera, and six state placers. Hornets wrestlers went 21-3 in their Saturday matches.
"I've been doing this a long time, and I can't remember a time when we lost just two matches (actually three) on a whole Saturday," said Enumclaw coach Lee Reichert. "That's an amazing feat. When you're backdoor wrestlers come through, and your younger wrestlers do that, you're going to win state championships."
Down 3-0 more than halfway through the 138 final to Pasco's Deondre sparks, Somera caught Sparks off balance and scored a pin at the 3:13 mark.
"I'm always looking for a big opportunity when the other wrestler is making a mistake and I capitalized on that," said Somera, who finished 36-4 this season and was 38-2 as the 135-pound champion in 2011. "He started pushing into me quite a bit, so I threw him. Winning two (state titles), you have to be attacking as well as looking for those opportunities.
"I just always try to keep pushing."
Somera shared an emotional embrace with his father, Andy, after the win.
"I've been through a lot of adversity this season, and I was third at region," Somera said. "I just praise God that he'd bring me through and take me to my goals. I just had faith.
"My Dad just said a bunch of mumbles, but he said, 'Great job' and that he couldn't believe it."
Reichert, in his 34th year as a wrestling coach, never grows tired of seeing hard work rewarded.
"This is a kid who comes in and works hard every day and he's a great leader on our team," Reichert said of Somera. "He gets down, 3-0, and lot of kids would start to panic, but he doesn't. It's just part of wrestling to him.
"The tougher it gets, the better he likes it. And, this is exactly what happened last year with a kid from Yelm. The kid comes in, and he sees it."
Orting senior Drew Templeman finished a 38-0 season as just the ninth four-time state champion in state history. He scored a major decision on Chelan junior Erick Garcia 10-2 in the 126-pound final in Class 1A. Templeman helped the Cardinals to their fourth consecutive team state title, 166-135.5 over Chelan. He captured the 125-pound class last year after taking 112 in 2009 and 119 in 2010.
"I'm more happy for our 106-pounder (state champion Darren Harris), our team and we'll probably get a four-peat as a team," said Templeman, who will wrestle at Wyoming. "It really hasn't sunk in yet. I wasn't nervous really until this (final) match. The first whole minute I was shaking and super jittery.
"It was weird, but then I finally dialed in. There was some negative thoughts. I was really fortunate. I couldn't get injured, sick or any skin diseases."
Senior Andrew Cunningham of Bonney Lake won his second state title in three years, outlasting Enumclaw junior Tyke Reid 4-1 in the 120-pound final. Cunningham wore a face mask to protect a gash requiring six stitches above his right eye that he sustained in the quarterfinals.
Cunningham exacted a measure of revenge in the finals after falling 8-2 to Reid in the regional final a week earlier.
"Every time we wrestle, it's a battle," said Cunningham, who scored a reversal for two points with 50 seconds left. "We've wrestled 10 times, and this is my eighth win. He got me twice, and both times they were on big moves in the first round.
"As long as I didn't make a mistake early, I felt pretty confident. You learn the most from your losses. That loss, it helped me this week."
Cunningham won the 103 title as a sophomore and lost the 112 crown last season.
• Junior Jessie Lopez became the first state champion for Everett since 2010, scoring two points in the final 23.2 seconds of a 7-6 decision over Yelm's Dillon Harris at 132 pounds in 3A. Lopez is the first Seagulls' title-holder since Alec Bird at 215 in 2010.
• Shorecrest senior Ian Bolstad beat University's Kyle Cosby 8-4 to cap his career as the 285-pound 3A champion.
• Glacier Peak junior Sean Elledge won the 3A 182 title, beating Mercer Island's Phil Frazier, 8-0.
• Mercer Island senior Blake Johnson defeated Decatur junior Nick Karris, 5-3, for the 3A 160-pound title.
• Mount Si senior Josh Mitchell's bid for a state-title repeat at 285 pounds in 3A was derailed in the semifinals, where he lost 8-2 to University's Kyle Cosby. Mitchell hoped to become the school's first repeat champion, but settled for third place.
• Metro League wrestlers Aqua Prigge (120) of Ingraham and David Dempsey (220) of O'Dea lost in the semifinals. Reid pinned Prigge in 4:47. Dempsey lost 10-6 in overtime in the semis.
• Deer Park wrapped up its fifth consecutive 2A team title with two state champions — juniors Jake Konzal (120) and Cole Harris (126). The Stags held off Centralia 154-134. Warden won its second 1B/2B state crown in a row.
• North Kitsap junior Jake Velarde (38-1) got his third state title, downing Deer Park sophomore Joe Grable 4-1 in the 2A 138-pound final. Velarde also has a 2A title in 2011 and a 3A crown in 2010.