BATTLE GROUND — Ask Dylan Draper the last time he was as elated after winning a wrestling match as he was Saturday in the 132-pound final at the Clark County Championships, and Ridgefield High senior might have to think about it awhile.
The pain of a cut across the nose’s bridge is eased when you win a tournament final as thrilling as Draper did at Battle Ground High School, using a takedown with 2 seconds left to break a 1-1 tie against Prairie’s Jason Wilcox. The finish got the loudest road on the boys mat from the crowd, winning 3-1.
After consecutive years losing in the finals, Draper is now 23-3 on the season and a Clark County champion for the first time.
“It felt super good to finally win it after so many years losing in the finals,” he said.
The injury to Draper’s nose was why an injury timeout was called in the third round of their 1-1 tie in a match featuring two state-ranked wrestlers in Classes 3A and 2A at 132. Draper said the mental game can shift for a wrestler in the midst of a tie match with time dwindling and it did for the senior against Wilcox, a wrestler he’s previously faced.
The goal: stay under control.
“Don’t do anything that will get me out of position,” he said. “Stay calm as much as possible and hopefully win it.”
Union (248 points) won its 10th straight team title getting champions from Noah Talavera (152 pounds), Danny Snediker (170), Kyle Brosius (182) and Josh Barber (heavyweight). Prairie, boosting four finalists, was second at 201.5 followed by Washougal (191.5).
A lot has changed since Mountain View senior Andrew Fritz last lived in Vancouver. For starters, the senior’s lived in two states and attended two different high schools before moving back to the region before the start of senior year for the Thunder.
Fritz last live in Vancouver four years ago as a Shahala Middle School eighth grader, and it made it twice as easy to reconnect with coaches to get a jump on his senior season two months early, he said.
“I feel like I wrestled really well, and starting to go back on the upswing,” he said. “I feel like I’m in the right spot to peak at state.”
Saturday, Fritz was one of two Thunder to win titles, taking the 126-pound win in a 5-2 decision over Washougal’s Cole Pass, joining teammate Noah Messman who won at 120. He hopes his first Clark County title jumpstarts the second half of his final year of high-school wrestling. At Wenatchee, where he wrestled freshman and sophomore years, he made it to as far as an regionals alternate. In Las Vegas for junior year, he missed the postseason.
“I’m glad I was able to showcase what I’ve been working toward for four years,” Fritz said. “I feel like I put it out there today.”
Change can equally be said for the Heritage Timberwolves. They bolstered three finalists Saturday, including one champion, Sanry Nguyen at 113 pounds.
Nguyen said wrestling smart and good position against Union’s Ryan Esperto was key to winning his second straight Clark County title and a better place than he was in earlier this year.
“At the beginning of the season, it was pretty rocky; I wasn’t wrestling well,” Nguyen said. “I’m into it now and wrestling a lot better.”
Teammates Israel Gonzalez (106) and Juan Castillo (145) joined Nguyen as finalists.
It’s been a whirlwind week — and season — for Heritage wrestling. Earlier this week, it captured its first league dual-match win in at least five years with a win over Battle Ground.
The culture is different, Nguyen said, and a spike in commitment has Heritage in a good place.
“It’s going great,” he said.
Other Clark County champions were: Ridgefield’s Bracen Nash (106), Skyview’s Logan Smith (138), Seton’s CJ Hamblin (145), Columbia River’s Atticus Kurtz (160) and Dawson Lierance (220), and Prairie’s Nick Langer.
Clark County Championships
At Battle Ground
Team scores — Union 248, Prairie 201.5, Washougal 191.5, Mountain View 150, Ridgefield 140.5, Columbia River 117, Heritage 108, Seton Catholic 79, Skyview 77, Evergreen 67.5, La Center 63, Battle Ground 52.5, Hockinson 45, Hudson’s Bay 35, Fort Vancouver 33.
106 — 1st: Bracen Nash (R) def. Israel Gonzalez (Her) 6-2; 3rd: Andy Santos (MV) def. Hunter Brown (MV) by forfeit.
113 — 1st: Sanry Nguyen (Her) def. Ryan Esperto (U) 5-3; 3rd: Elijah Cassidy (U) p. Luke Golphenee (W) 3:33.
120 — 1st: Noah Messman (MV) def. Brandon Esperto (U) 10-5; 3rd: Dylan Jimenez (U) def. Noah Larsen (P) 5-0.
126 — 1st: Andrew Fritz (MV) def. Cole Pass (W) 5-2; 3rd: Daniel Joner (BG) p. Bridger Paradis (P) 2:16.
132 — 1st: Dylan Draper (R) def. Jason Wilcox (P) 3-1; 3rd: Jason Powell (W) p. Elijah Volk (SC) 3:00.
138 — 1st: Logan Smith (S) def. Scott Lees 15-5; 3rd: Denny Roa (E) p. Ian Campbell (SC) 2:07.
145 — 1st: Christopher Hamblin (SC) p. Juan Castillo (Her) 3:53; 3rd: Zack Brown (P) p. Josh Helm (U) 0:31.
152 — 1st: Noah Talavera (U) def. Brayden Sofianos (P) 11-4; 3rd: James Walker (CR) def. Bryce Lawrence (R) 9-6.
160 — 1st: Atticus Kurtz (CR) def. Robert Shepard (MV) 5-3; 3rd: Jeffrey Wells (W) def. Logan Newman (R) 4-3.
170 — 1st: Danny Snediker (U) p. Ben Matson (P) 2:20; 3rd: Aiden Mallory (Hoc) p. Kris Massey (W) 3:36.
182 — 1st: Kyle Brosius (U) p. Rene Sadler (CR) 1:26; 3rd: Zachry Curry (MV) def. Easton Lane (P) 6-3.
195 — 1st: Nick Langer (P) p. Korben Modoc (W) 3:44; 3rd: Max Muffett (LC) def. Va Lli (MV) 20-9.
220 — 1st: Dawson Lieurance (CR) p. Levi Harms (U) 2:43; 3rd: Cole Andersen (R) p. Bryant Coronel (FV) 4:50.
1st: Josh Barber (U) p. Malek Mabrouk (HB) 0:33; 3rd:— Brody Schlaefli (P) def. Harland Richards (E) 7-0.