This was the beginning of Granger’s ongoing run as a state power in wrestling, the first of three state titles in the last eight years. These Spartans produced five medalists with two champions at 113, 120 and 126 pounds. Of Granger’s 34 state champions, 20 have come since 2013.
• • •
TACOMA — Whether it was Joshua Salcedo’s unbeaten trifecta, Adrian Guerrero’s stunning last-second victory over a two-time state champion or the two teammates who were eliminated Friday but still won matches, Granger’s wrestling team was top to bottom on top of its game at Mat Classic XXV.
And the prize for the every-man-in effort was huge — the school’s first state championship in any sport.
It wasn’t close.
The Spartans rolled out three champions in Salcedo, Guerrero and Abidan Duarte, went 4-0 in the semifinals, 4-0 in the consolation finals and overwhelmed the Class 1A field with 153 points — 47.5 better than runner-up Quincy.
“Everybody was part of this and that’s exactly what we talked about,” said Granger coach Ruben Saldivar. “We came to compete and everything seemed to go our way. These kids, they just went out and took care of it.”
Granger’s rival and neighbor Zillah produced two champions — Cortes Hernandez and Shane McMurray — and came away with 91 points and a fourth-place trophy.
While Granger drew inspiration from everywhere within its team, Salcedo was the reliable foundation to build a state title on.
Earning his third consecutive state title with an 11-0 major decision over Highland’s Andres Tereza in the 120-pound final, Salcedo not only became the Valley’s seventh three-time champion but did so by going 104-0 over those three seasons. His last loss was in the 103 state final as a freshman.
“It’s the best feeling in the world,” he said. “To be undefeated all three years and get three titles under my belt, that was my dream.”
And leading his team to victory, even sweeter.
“There was no better finish than this,” added Salcedo, whose prep career record was 137-4. “We inspired each other. I wouldn’t have been a three-timer without my teammates and coaches.”
Directly after Salcedo’s historic win, Guerrero, a four-time state medalist, pulled off a huge upset in the 126 final. Trailing two-time state champ Josh Crager of Cascade Christian 1-0, he scored a takedown just as time expired for the 2-1 stunner.
After going out of bounds, the pair was sent back to the middle with eight seconds left.
“That eight seconds seemed like an eternity,” he said. “I knew I had it even though the time was short. It was a perfect end for me, and my team lifted me up. All week I envisioned this.”
Duarte needed an 8-7 win in the semifinals to reach the 195 final, and he carried on the toughness in tight spots. With a takedown in the second period, he yielded an escape in the final period but held on to beat Vashon Island’s Preston Morris 2-1.
“I just feel blessed today. The whole team was blessed,” said Duarte, who overcame cancer as a fourth-grader. “It’s amazing what we did here. Everybody did their part and more.”
Zillah’s trophy, the program’s fourth in a row, got thrilling leadership from Hernandez and McMurray.
Hernandez, a four-time medalist who helped the Leopards place second as a freshman, defeated Medical Lake’s Anton King 5-3 in overtime of the 138 final. He placed third in each of the last two trips to Mat Classic.
“This is everything I’ve wanted,” he said. “I put a ton of pressure on myself but I think it helped. I never stopped giving it my all.”
McMurray knocked off a returning champion in the 152 final, using a late takedown to beat Castle Rock’s Pacer Said 6-4.
“Watching Cortes got my spirits up,” he said. “I realized I could do it too and it made me even more determined. That’s what teammates for.”
The SCAC West put eight in the finals with Highland’s David Peterson (106), Granger’s Victor Almaguer (113) and Tereza earning second-place medals.