Mat Classic awaits eight wrestlers


Sports editor

Travis Hoeft proves that hard work can pay off.

The Decatur senior will be making his first appearance at the pinnacle of high school wrestling in Washington Friday and Saturday — the Mat Classic state wrestling championships inside the Tacoma Dome. The 125-pounder won the Region II wrestling championship Saturday at Eastlake High School in Sammamish to earn the berth.

“The thing about Travis is that he is a product of our program,” said Gator coach Mike Bressler. “He worked his way through three years of ups and downs and he is now starting to reap the benefits.”

He wrestled on the junior varsity as a sophomore and was “off and on” last year as a junior, according to Bressler.

“He did OK,” he said. “Now he has a real good chance at accomplishing his goal of placing at state. We are proud of him.”

Hoeft will be joined at Mat Classic XVI by Decatur teammates Kyle Bressler (189 pounds) and Taylor McCluskey (215), Jefferson’s Matt Moehrle (112), Brian Moehrle (130) and Adam Summers (189) and Federal Way’s Ludovic Mea (135) and Nick Harteau (140). Bressler and Mea also won regional championships Saturday at Eastlake.

“I am very happy for Travis,” Mike Bressler said. “Wrestling is a process and unless you are extremely gifted, it takes time to be good. He’s really putting it together.”

Hoeft beat Bothell’s Steve Sewell in the final match 9-5 to claim the regional title. He will wrestle University High sophomore Trevor Robb in the opening round of Mat Classic at 10:40 a.m. Friday.

Decatur’s Kyle Bressler will try to complete one of the most impressive two-year wrestling runs in recent memory inside the Tacoma Dome. The senior is the defending state champion in the 189-pound classification and brings a 35-0 record into the Mat Classic after putting together a 36-1 record last season.

“I’m just taking it one match at a time,” Kyle Bressler said. “I really don’t know any of the guys in my bracket.”

Bressler’s run through the regional tournament ended with a dominating 16-4 decision over Emerald Ridge’s Brynsen Brown in the championship. He will wrestle Gonzaga Prep’s Jon Schmitz in the first round Friday at 12:30 p.m.

The Brown win wasn’t the one most people, including Bressler, thought they would see in the championship round. Bothell’s Scott LaBrash was expected to challenge Bressler’s unbeaten season — like he did last year, but Brown beat him in the semifinals.

“Of course I wanted a rematch,” Bressler said. “I wanted to wrestle him, but that didn’t work out.”

LaBrash gave Bressler his lone loss a season ago when he got a pin in the regional title match. Bressler got back by pinning LaBrash in the state championship.

“He has such a weird style of wrestling,” Mike Bressler said about LaBrash. “He has the most uncanny hips I’ve ever seen. He dangerous, but the Emerald Ridge kid (Brown) just destroyed him. He made him look silly. So anybody can upset anybody.”

Federal Way’s Mea was also impressive on his way to the regional title. The 135-pounder beat Puyallup’s Nate Webb 12-7 in the final. Mea will wrestle Stanwood’s Ryan Smith in his opening match in the very tough 135-pound draw at the Tacoma Dome at 11:10 a.m. Friday. As a junior, Mea finished sixth at the 2003 Mat Classic.

Jefferson’s Moehrle brothers, Matt and Brian, will be making their first appearances at the Mat Classic. Brian, a senior, pinned Puyallup’s Scott Carolus in the third-fourth match at regionals and will take on Battleground freshman Dennis Parks in the first round at 11 a.m. Friday. Matt, a sophomore, won a 10-7 decision over Curtis’ Josh Boettner to finish in third at 112 pounds. He will wrestle Tahoma’s Devin Spencer at 10:20 a.m. Friday. The Moehrles teammate, Summers, lost a 5-3 decision to LaBrash in the 189-pound third-fourth match. He will take on North Central’s Jess Kerr Friday at 12:30 p.m.

McCluskey finished fourth at regionals and will open his first Mat Classic Friday at 12:40 p.m. against Battle Ground’s Jay Carlile, one of the better wrestlers in the state. Harteau also ended up in fourth place at regionals and will wrestle Auburn’s Kurt Schwartz at 11:20 a.m. Friday.

Beamer’s Cole Bixenman will be a first alternate to the state championships. The freshman finished in fifth at the regional tournament.

Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565,

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