Neither Sara Sanchez nor Erin Locke could have made it to the Tacoma Dome alone.
“Having such a tough partner to work with every day makes you a better wrestler,” Sanchez said. “One of us usually goes on before the other one. It’s like tagging in your partner. Now it’s your turn.”
Sanchez and Locke each won their first round matches in the girls state tournament Friday, but got caught on the wrong end of pin falls in the quarterfinals. Both Panthers fought through to Saturday and wrestled three more matches to get a medal.
Unable to wrestle in the previous postseason because of a shoulder injury, Sanchez came back like a firecracker and defeated Mabton’s Jazmin Mendoza for fifth place at 124 pounds.
“It was difficult to watch the girls I had already beaten winning matches here. It should have been me,” Sanchez said. “It’s nice to get back up here and get fifth. I felt like I paid my dues.”
Locke continued to fight through a series of nicks and bruises Saturday. She gave everything she had left in her last match, but lost to South Kitsap’s Caleenda Johnson. Locke still earned sixth place at 130 pounds.
Stephen and Haven Camden were humbled by injuries and illness all season long, but the brother and sister drew strength and resolve from each other. On Saturday, they were both rewarded with seventh place state medals. Stephen pinned North Mason’s Nick Grenwell in 29 seconds. Haven beat Kentwood’s Cassidy Meyers 8-4.
Sophomore Zac Oster made the most of his first state tournament opportunity. The Panther won two matches on Friday and Saturday after losing in the first round. He pinned Orting’s Dean Utterback in 4:44 for seventh place at 106 pounds.
Senior Wyatt Eakins pinned East Valley Yakima’s Berkley Aguilar for his only victory. Tanner Baldwin, Jessica Biron, Tara Duey, Jessica Eakins and Jesse Reagan failed to win a match in their first state tournament, but all of them gained a valuable experience.
“I hope we can all get back here next year, and be up on that podium as a team,” Sanchez said. “Next year, we will be number one.”