Johnson third at Mat Classic

By Matt Phelps

Mercer Island High School sent two wrestlers to state Friday and Saturday to compete during the Mat Classic at the Tacoma Dome. Both placed to finish their high school careers.

Jesse Johnson placed third at 215 pounds, while Kyle Agnew took eighth place at 145 pounds during the state meet. Islander Jean Laschever dominated the female exhibition to take first with three consecutive pins.

Jesse Johnson -- third place at 215 pounds

Johnson, who took third in state last year, lost just one match during the 215 pound weight class bracket to retain his third-place title.

``It was a nice way to finish my high school career,'' said Johnson. ``I am a little disappointed I couldn't get higher.''

Johnson began the tournament quick -- 1:26 quick. His first round opponent, Art Weaver of Wapato High School, looked ready as the two squared off in the center of mat one. But just 45 seconds into the match, Johnson earned a takedown. The Islander rode his opponent, driving his weight down into Weaver's chest with a headlock, forcing the pin at the 1:26 mark of the match. Johnson offered to help his opponent up, but Weaver just slapped his hand away.

``It was nice to start with a short match,'' said Johnson. ``I was confident I could beat him, but I wasn't sure I could get a pin.''

Johnson's next match would prove to be his toughest as he took on Brad Padgett of White River.

``It was a good match,'' said Johnson. ``He is really good on his feet.''

Padgett and Johnson jockeyed for position and neither could gain a real upper hand through the first two rounds.

But Padgett earned three points that Johnson could not make up.

The White River senior won 12-9 and would go on to take the state title at 215 pounds.

``It was one of the better matches I have had this year as far as competition goes,'' said Johnson.

Johnson ripped through the consolation bracket with a 2:05 pin on Logan Roehm of Hanford, an 11-2 victory over Joe Shaw of Sequim and a 5-1 defeat of Travis McKenzie of Cheney.

The finals pitted Johnson against a wrestler he beat twice this season, Trevor Moore of Mount Si. The match stayed close throughout, but a takedown was all that Johnson needed to pick up the 3-1 win and his second third-place finish.

Kyle Agnew -- eighth place at 145 pounds

Agnew had an uphill battle before he even got to the Tacoma Dome. The senior was sick during districts and the week leading up to state. With no practice and fighting to keep his to wrestling weight of 145 pounds, Agnew looked fatigued during his first match. The Islander fought to just stay alive during the match but eventually went down 15-0 to a technical fall.

``He was definitely exhibiting fatigue out there,'' said Mercer Island head coach Paul Jackson. ``He didn't feel real strong.''

The loss and fatigue did not discourage Agnew from his goal of placing. He entered the state meet sick last year. It cost him a chance to place.

In the consolation bracket, Agnew got a second win. He earned a pin fall during his first match at the 4:59 mark over Steven Gentry of Kennedy High School. The second match went to Agnew 7-4 as he beat Drew Beaudoin of East Valley (Spokane). Agnew would lose his next match to Chris Yncera of Issaquah 9-2, but still qualifed for the seventh and eighth place match against Nate McRea of West Seattle. But the physical exertion took its toll on Agnew as he fell to McRea 13-5, taking eighth overall at 145 pounds.

Jean Laschever -- first place female exhibition

Islander Jean Laschever was just one victory from state last season and was visibly disappointed during the 3A KingCo tournament when she did not qualify for the district meet. This year, Laschever took her frustrations out on the rest of the female contingent during the state meet's female exhibition, earning 18 points and the first-place crown.

Laschever's first-round match was over in 37 seconds, as she got the take down and the pin over Heather Hall of North Bend.

She had to work harder in the second round to produce the same results. She pinned Missy Cowart of Highline High School at the 3:11 mark.

The third round was over before most fans realized it had begun. It took Laschever 21 seconds to pin Melissa Lewis of West Valley High school (Yakima) and secure the female exhibition first place title.

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