Grizzly, Wolfpack wrestlers win titles at Panther Classic
Last updated 1/18/2019 at Noon
One Jackson and two Glacier Peak wrestlers walked away with first-place medals at the annual Panther Classic.
Wolfpack senior Christian Balmer recorded three straight pins to advance to the 182-pound finals, where he recorded a 20-3 technical fall victory over Westview’s Bo Munly Saturday, Jan. 5, at Snohomish High School.
Both Grizzlies Kyle Nget (120) and Gavin MacDonald (126) won by fall in their respective finals.
“It was a tough one,” Balmer said of the match with Munly. “I had hard competition in the semifinals and finals as expected.”
After winning by fall over both of his first two opponents, each in less than a minute, Balmer and Decatur’s Michael Rhea battled until the 3-minute 58-second mark when the Jackson standout pinned his rival.
“It was a close match that motivated me to go to this finals match,” said Balmer, who improved to 15-2.
“He had a great day three pins and a technical fall,” Jackson coach Matt McClinchy said. “I was very happy to get him into the finals.”
At last month’s Rogers Invitational and Wilfong Classic, Balmer advanced to the semifinals, where he lost both times and ended up finishing third in both tournaments.
“He’s looked the best he’s looked all year,” McClinchy said of Balmer’s performance at the Panther Classic. “After winter break and this time of the year, the cream rises. He wrestled really well in the semifinals. He had to battle back.”
Balmer placed seventh at 195 at last year’s 3A state tournament. He’s looking to make a move up on the podium.
“Top 3 in state is a priority for me,” Balmer said. “Just placing high and even winning state, that’s really important.”
Nget has advanced to the finals of two other tournaments. He won at Spud Walley and lost at Mount Baker. Nget said he has a better mental approach to his matches.
“I’m not panicking as much when I make mistakes,” he said.
Nget won his first two matches by fall and then defeated O’Dea’s Sam Mahler 15-4 in the semifinals. He pinned Timberline’s Gabriel Duchesneau at the 4:40 mark.
“I want to be a state placer,” Nget said. “I’ve never placed past districts since my freshman year.”
Teammate MacDonald said that winning the Panther Classic meant a lot since he hasn’t fared well at the tournament in past years.
“Senior year hit me kind of hard,” MacDonald said. “I wanted to make everything worth it and put in 100 percent.”
MacDonald placed third at Spud Walley and at Mount Baker. He had to win two close matches to take the Panther Classic. MacDonald edged Sumner’s Coltin Cleland 5-3 in a first-round match, won by fall against Arlington’s Trevor Latta and then pulled out an 8-7 victory over Federal Way’s Michael Procter-Yates in the semifinals.
“I just had a mindset, it’s senior year. I’m kind of done with losing,” MacDonald said. “I want to compete and put everything on the line. I have nothing to lose.”
Teammate Parker Hardy (132) also wrestled in the finals but ended up taking second after losing by fall to Travis Blasingame of Westview (Oregon).
Glacier Peak’s Dylan Owen (170) and Preston Barr (220) both finished fourth.
Jackson’s Anders Haugen (126) and Jackson’s Matthew Kastelle (138) both finished fifth.