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MAT CLASSIC: Arizpe, Karis are Federal Way's wrestling couple
Bianca Arizpe and Nick Karis are the first couple of wrestling in Federal Way.
This weekend marks the final time Arizpe and Karis will strap on their wrestling singlets in high school. The pair hopes to watch each other stand atop the podium as state champions. Arizpe is a senior on the Federal Way High School girls team and Karis is a senior at Decatur.
The duo have a combined record of 68-3 this season and enter the Mat Classic as the prohibitive favorites in their respective weight classes. The 25th anniversary of the state wrestling championships kicks off at 10 a.m. Friday inside the Tacoma Dome.
The pair both won regional championships and are the No. 1-ranked wrestlers in their weight classes by WashingtonWrestlingReport.com. The pair “officially” started dating on Karis’ birthday last year, and will celebrate their 11-month anniversary Saturday, the day state title matches are held inside the Tacoma Dome.
“It would be memorable and feel so fulfilling,” Arizpe said. “It would be a relief to finally meet our goal of winning a state championship. Since last year, we have both been saying that we are going to win state.”
During last year’s Mat Classic, Arizpe finished in fifth place and Karis lost in the 160-pound championship match. The finishes made the pair even hungrier to stand atop the podium in Tacoma. They watch each other’s matches and give advice.
“He notices some things that I can fix and I work on some positions with him,” Arizpe said. “He’s helped me with a couple moves. I like to think that I help him motivation-wise. We wrestle around on the carpet and he wrestles with my brother and nephews and stuff all the time.”
“She made me a lot better, too,” Karis said. “She pushed me to go to a lot of tournaments during the summer.”
Karis also played an instrumental role back in August when Arizpe’s father, Fred, unexpectedly died following complications from his second liver transplant.
“He has been there during the toughest time in my life,” Arizpe said about Karis.
Last year was the first time Fred Arizpe was able to watch his daughter compete inside the Tacoma Dome. Complications from his first liver transplant keep him away during her freshman and sophomore seasons, when she finished fifth and fourth, respectively.
“There’s been a change in her this season,” said Federal Way head coach Travis Mango. “This season is all about family for her with her mom and her brother. It’s amazing how much she cared for (her dad). This is going to be a special one for her. I truly hope she can stand on top of that podium.”
Arizpe’s younger brother, freshman Leviticus, will also wrestle at the Mat Classic this season after winning the 113-pound regional championship last week for Decatur.
“Leviticus also wants to win so bad for my dad,” she said. “He was like our biggest fan.”
Karis also experienced tragedy during his high school wrestling career. One of his best friends, Robert “Hurricane” Harris, drowned in Lake Tapps during a family outing in September 2011. Harris was a stand-out wrestler at Decatur.
“That really pushes us to go harder,” Karis said.
There is a possibility that the girlfriend-boyfriend combination will continue their wrestling careers at the same place next fall. Both Arizpe and Karis leave Monday to head down to Menlo College in California to visit the campus and take a tour of the wrestling facilities at the school.
Arizpe has already signed her National Letter of Intent to attend Menlo, but Karis is still up in the air about where he will wrestle next season. He has received interest from Division I programs like Arizona State and Boise State.
“It would be awesome if Nick also goes to Menlo,” Arizpe said with a smile. “We would be able to help each other to be focused on school and then wrestling. We could keep each other in line.”
For now, however, the first couple of Federal Way wrestling is just focused on bringing home a pair of state championships this weekend.