Eight Island wrestlers at Mat Classic

Islander senior Graham Horgdal competes in the 189-pound weight class during the Mat Classic state tournament. - Tim Knebel/Contributed photo
Islander senior Graham Horgdal competes in the 189-pound weight class during the Mat Classic state tournament.
— image credit: Tim Knebel/Contributed photo

The Mercer Island wrestling program sent a young contingent of seven athletes to the Mat Classic state tournament on Friday and Saturday. Although none of the wrestlers made it to the podium, the experience was invaluable for all of them.

Among the seven were two seniors who achieved one of their major goals by just setting foot onto the Tacoma Dome floor.

Islander senior Graham Horgdal entered the tournament with an injury that limited the motion of his right arm and rendered it useless.

“I haven’t been the same since I got injured,” said Horgdal. “I don’t have much strength.”

Despite the distinct disadvantage, Horgdal won his first match 6-4.

“I wanted that first win and that was all that mattered to me,” said the 189-pound athlete.

But the stress of the match took its toll on the senior captain as he was pinned during the second round at the 1:17 mark. Horgdal found it hard to get control during his third and final match, losing 6-1 to tie for ninth in state.

“It was my goal to make it to state since my freshman year,” said Horgdal. “It was the sweetest to make it my senior year, and it was worth all the pain.”

Another senior, David Bowman, who qualified for the tournament was held out for not making weight.

The youngest of the Islanders showed that the future of the team is bright, as two freshmen won matches.

Islander Phil Frazier won his first match at 145 pounds, 7-2. The freshman battled through his second match until he was pinned during the final minute of the third round (5:12). Frazier completed his third match, but lost 6-2 to tie for ninth in state.

Blake Johnson was the only Mercer Island wrestler to earn a pin at state in the 130-pound weight class. Following a 2:35 pin during his first match, Johnson came back strong with no time left during the second round. The pin at the 3:59 mark gave the freshman new life, but only for a short time. During the next match, Johnson lost 7-4 to tie for ninth in state.

Islander Colton Knebel got into a battle for points during his first match, but lost 21-15. The ability to score aided the sophomore during his next match as he came out on top, 10-5. The 189-pound athlete had very little time to think about scoring during his final match of the tournament as he was pinned in 52 seconds to tie for ninth in state.

Fellow sophomore TJ Blackburn also proved to be good at scoring points, winning his first match 10-6. But Blackburn came up short on points during the second round at 215 pounds, 11-8. Blackburn’s run came to an end with a 4-0 loss, to tie for ninth in state.

Islander Kyle Shanafelt was very competitive at 119 pounds, but lost both of his matches on points, 9-2 and 4-0, to tie for 13th in state.

Mercer Island resident and O’Dea senior JP Bruckner made it to the consolation medal round, but was called for a flagrant misconduct foul and ejected from the tournament without medalling.

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