The scene was reminiscent of last year when he captured his first state championship, but for Cruz, something was decidedly different this time around.
“It’s just a new experience,” Cruz said. “This title was a lot harder to win than last year, but it feels unbelievable. The whole season I just wanted to keep pushing and eventually I’d reach my goal.”
Cruz, champion in the 113-pound weight classification, was one of four Cardinals to claim a Class 2A state wrestling championship at Mat Classic XXVII, helping the Orting squad finish second overall as a team.
Ben Gore (145 pounds) and Hunter Mullins (285) joined Cruz as two-time state titlist while senior Brandon Rodarte (160) secured his first championship.
Orting, which notched 143.5 team points, finished as the runner-up to Toppenish (154) for the team title. The Cardinals also received a seventh place from Chrys Cenkush (113), an eighth from Dean Utterback (138), an eighth from Jack Ervien (145), and a third from Erick Jacobson (220).
Cruz wasted little time letting his future goals be known as he outlined his long-term mission.
“I want to go for a fourth one,” Cruz said. “Halfway there.”
These are lofty expectations, as there have only been 13 athletes to accomplish the feat in Washington, but certainly obtainable based on Cruz’s success his first two years.
Should that occur, Cruz would become the third Cardinal to win four career state titles, joining former standouts Drew Templeman (2009-12) and Fred Green (2012-15). Orting is the only program in the state with multiple four-time winners.
While Cruz plans history, Puyallup’s Jordyn Bartelson made some at this year’s state tournament, becoming the second female ever to win four titles after she pinned Kaylee Moore of Naches Valley (3:59) to win the 120-pound title.
Kiona-Benton’s Sheridan McDonald (2008-11) had been the only female with four states titles to her credit before Bartelson joined the select sorority. Not too long after Bartelson’s title win, Grandview’s Desiree Zavala (145) increased the club by one member after winning her fourth championship.
Bonney Lake’s Brandon Kaylor picked up his second 3A state title by defeating Mount Spokane’s Blake Haney, 6-3, in the 106-pound division.
The sophomore echoed Cruz’s thoughts about the difficulty of capturing title No. 2.
“It feels different from last year. Instead of starting out the tournament as the second-ranked wrestler and coming out on top, I was ranked No. 1 the whole year,” Kaylor said. “I felt like there was more pressure to succeed and do better this year than last year. I just wanted to make my team and parents proud. I think I prevailed.”
Kaylor’s teammate Avery Meyer won the 145-pound title, defeating Auburn Mountainview’s Dylan Foley via pinfall (4:14) in the finals. Meyer finished second in state as a junior last year.
Jake Treece of Enumclaw had a similar state tournament. A year after finishing second, the junior won the 132-pound state title in the 3A classification by knocking off Arlington’s Gavin Rork, 9-0, in the championship match.
The Hornets also received a title from 120-pound senior Kyle Opland.
The dual champions helped the Panthers finish third as a team with 117 points. Enumclaw placed sixth with 93. Arlington (148) won the team title, while Mount Spokane (126) came in second.
Also in the 3A tournament, Enumclaw sophomore Kiona Gill (182) and Lincoln junior Will Willsey (220) posted second-place finishes.
Curtis finished fourth overall as a team in 4A with five wrestlers placing.
Puyallup’s Josh Franich (132) and Bethel’s Phillip Springsteen (160) both earned 4A championships.
Springsteen pinned Rogers of Puyallup’s Ty Wilson, a 2015 state champion in the 152-pound division, in the finals match (3:47). Springsteen’s brother, Dante, was unable to duplicate the feat, losing 7-5 to Todd Beamer’s Adrian Avena in the 152-pound championship.
Wilson sophomore Flor Parker-Borrero (140) and Clover Park’s Lourdes Faletagoai (235) won state titles in the girls’ tournament.
Additional local state placing wrestlers include:
4A: 120 – 3 Mason Eaglin, Graham-Kapowsin; 4 Riley Riffe, Curtis. 126 – 5 Lane Holland, Graham-Kapowsin. 145 – 6 Gavin Eaglin, Graham-Kapowsin; 8 Kenter Fields, Curtis. 170 – 4 Tucker Hanson, Puyallup; 5 Alex Stuart, Curtis. 182 – 4 Hunter Lybbert, Curtis; 5 Jon Bridgman, Curtis. 220 – 4 Calhoun Helmberger, Curtis. 285 – 3 Noah Howell, Rogers (Puyallup).
3A: 106 – 6 Brenden Chaowanapibool, Bonney Lake. 113 – 6 C.J. Richmond, Sumner. 120 – 6 Marcus Peterson, Sumner. 126 – 5 Mason Sabin, Bonney Lake. 132 – 7 Tucker Wooding, Sumner. 138 – 3 Quinton Southcott, Enumclaw. 152 – 3 Zach Koeller, Bonney Lake. 170 – 6 Jonivan Manibusan, Lakes. 285 – 4 Jackson Potts, Foss.
2A: 106 – 3 Max Wheeler, White River; 113 – 7 Chrys Cenkush, Orting. 120 – 6 Marquel Parks, Washington. 132 – 5 Ryan Redford, White River. 138 – 3 Nathan Moore, White River; 8 Dean Utterback, Orting. 145 – 8 Jack Ervien, White River. 152 – 4 Max Henry-Nelson, Franklin Pierce; 6 Deandre Williams, Washington. 170 – 3 Tariq Ellis, Washington; 8 Bryce House, Franklin Pierce. 182 – 4 Kitrell Willingham, Washington. 220 – 3 Erik Jacobson, Orting.
Girls: 105 – 4 Akaiyasia Sumandig, Mount Tahoma. 110 – 2 Brooklyn Bartelson, Puyallup. 125 – 4 Anesia Ramirez, Lakes. 130 – 3 Erin Redford, White River. 140 – 3 Mariya Gaither, Rogers (Puyallup).