State wrestling: Tillman repeats as 285-pound champion

Decatur High School senior Tevyn Tillman gets his hand raised by the referee after beating Anacortes
Decatur High School senior Tevyn Tillman gets his hand raised by the referee after beating Anacortes' Bryant Dickerson to win the 285-pound state championship at Class 4A Mat Classic XXI inside the Tacoma Dome Saturday night. It was Tillman's second 285-pound title.
— image credit: Casey Olson/staff photo

Tevyn Tillman looked more relieved than excited Saturday night inside the Tacoma Dome.

There was no flamboyant celebration after the Decatur High School senior defended his Class 4A 285-pound state championship at Mat Classic XXI. About the only thing Tillman did after a rugged 2-1 win over Anacortes’ Bryant Dickerson in the title match was raise his right hand and point to the big Gator contingent.

“It was way harder this year,” Tillman said. “Repeating is always harder because that initial excitement that is always with you the first time, is not there. The first time, you are putting it all out there.”

The win over Dickerson ended Tillman’s season with a 41-1 record. His only loss came to an Oregon wrestler in the semifinals of the prestigious Pacific Coast Championships in December.

Also, heading back to the Tacoma Dome as the defending champion, put a huge target on Tillman’s back. Everybody he lined up against Friday and Saturday at the Mat Classic gave their best effort in an attempt to knock off the champ.

But that wasn’t happening.

“After you win it the first time, I was always wondering, ‘What if someone catches me?’” Tillman said. “But you can’t worry about that. You just have to go out there and wrestle your match.”

Tillman, who is still undecided on playing football or wrestling in college, won his first-round match Friday morning against Kentwood’s Nathan Herrick, 10-5, and got a little scare in the quarterfinals when Lake Stevens’ Zach Teuber took him to his back early in the match. Tillman eventually settled down and won 12-4.

Tillman came back Saturday morning to pin Auburn’s Nick Conlan in the semifinals in 3:20 to earn his second state title appearance.

“Tevyn wrestled great,” said Decatur head coach Mike Bressler, who was also a two-time state wrestling champion in the ‘70s at Evergreen High School. “There was a lot of pressure on him.”

Tillman’s win at 285 capped a very impressive state wrestling meet for Federal Way. The school district had a total of four wrestlers who wrestled in title matches inside the Tacoma Dome. Todd Beamer 130-pound senior Trevor Mill and Decatur 189-pound senior Darren Faber both lost in title matches on the boys’ side, and Federal Way High School sophomore Jocie Weinberger also finished second in the 125-pound bracket at the Girls Mat Classic.

Tillman’s teammate and wrestling partner, Faber, made a surprising run to the 189-pound state championship match with a pair of upset wins over Moses Lake’s Brian Chamberlain in the quarterfinals and Edmonds-Woodway’s Rudy Johanson in the semifinals.

But Faber ran into one of the best wrestlers in the state in Auburn senior Jake Swartz in the championship match Saturday night. Swartz, who is headed to Boise State University in the fall, dominated the action against Faber to win his third-straight state title, 7-0. Swartz won his previous three matches by pin and is currently the No. 2-ranked 189-pounder in the nation.

“He is the most skilled kid in the tournament,” Bressler said. “We were just happy to get Darren there.”

“He’s like a rock,” Faber said of Swartz. “When you wrestle him, it’s not like he dominates you with his strength. He’s real calm and kind of goofy, in his own way. I’m just honored to be able to wrestle him.”

But Faber was still able to take in the gravity of wresting in the state championship match in front of a packed Tacoma Dome crowd.

“It’s unique,” Faber said after the loss. “I will never have another experience like this. It’s pretty awesome. Tevyn’s been telling me all year that I could get here.”

Faber dominated Snohomish’s Spencer Caraballo during his first-round match Friday morning, before pinning the senior early in the third round. Faber then squeaked out a 4-3 decision over Chamberlain in the quarterfinals before beating Johanson, 11-9, in a semfinal Saturday morning.

Mills (30-4) also ran into a steam-roller in the 130-pound championship match when he faced Snohomish senior Sam Ottow. But the Beamer senior gave Ottow everything he could handle, before losing to the defending 130-pound champion, 8-4. It was Mills third appearance at Mat Classic. He finished fifth as a sophomore and junior.

Ottow used a first-round takedown to take an early 2-0 lead in the match. The second round was back-and-forth before Mills tied the match at 4-4 with a takedown with 20 seconds remaining. But Ottow tallied the last four points of the match to secure his second title.

“Sam is a great wrestler,” Mills said. “But I worked my butt off to get up to his level. Although I didn’t win, it was a pleasure to be on the same mat as him.”

Mills shutout Oak Harbor’s Colton Elliot in his opening-round match Friday, 9-0, and pinned Lake Stevens’ Steven Walkley in the quarterfinals, before grinding out a rugged 6-4 decision over South Kitsap’s Adam Ferguson in the semis.

“It was very surreal wrestling in the state championship match,” a calm Mills said after losing to Ottow. “I can’t even begin to explain it. The wait is horrible. Just the anticipation really gets to you.”

“This is a pretty big thing,” Beamer coach Brett Lucas said.

Mills credits his 2009 run at Mat Classic to a loss to Rogers’ Brian Bitney during the South Puget Sound League South Division Tournament last month.

“It was an eye-opener to get my mind straight and get ready for the next couple weeks,” Mills said.

Weinberger, who won last week’s regional title at 125 pounds, lost to Sedro Woolley’s Alysia Pohren in the girls championship Saturday. Pohren dominated the 125-pound bracket, pinning Weinberger in the title match in 2:37. Weinberger beat LaCenter’s Rebecca Sokolowski in the opening round, 9-4, downed Sedro Woolley’s Jessie Kaech in the quarterfinals in a 1:38 pin and also pinned Monroe’s Julia Perry in the semifinals.

Weinberger’s Federal Way teammate, Maria Manzueta, was also in the 125-pound bracket in Tacoma, winning one match.

State Wrestling notes:

• Todd Beamer senior Tyler Enos ended his outstanding wrestling career Saturday with a fourth-place finish at 135 pounds. Enos, who finished seventh last year, lost to University’s Kevin Harder in the opening round, 13-8, in overtime before winning four matches in a row in the consolation bracket. Enos beat Lake Stevens’ B.J. Alewine, 5-1, Walla Walla’s Ryan Harmon, 2-0, Moses Lake’s Cameron Chlarson, disqualification, and won a rematch with Harder, 4-0. Ferris’ Brandon Riehle eventually beat Enos in the third-fourth match, 6-5.

• Thomas Jefferson junior Kyle McIntosh finished in fifth place in the 140-pound bracket Saturday after winning four matches at Mat Classic. McIntosh lost his opening-round match Friday morning to Kentwood’s Cody Quinn, 16-0, but fought his way through the consolation bracket to earn the spot on the podium. McIntosh beat Inglemoor’s Joey Speed, 10-2, Snohomish’s Luke Perry, 5-0, and Moses Lake’s Tyler Vela, before dropping a match to Central Valley’s Tyler Simmet. McIntosh eventually beat Kelso’s Niko Hughes, 4-1, in the fifth-sixth match.

• Jefferson sophomore Zeke Nistrian finished sixth at 152 pounds Saturday after compiling a 3-3 record at Mat Classic. Nistrian lost his opener, then rattled off two wins in the consolation bracket over Curtis’ Ben Betteridgge, 11-4, and Gig Harbor’s Davey Browne, injury defaut. Nistrian then lost to Snohomish’s Micah Morrill and Inglemoor’s Daniel Nelson.

• Beamer freshman Tre Uson finished 1-2 in his first Mat Classic. The 103-pounder beat Auburn’s Steven Chacko in the consolation bracket Friday.

• Decatur 103-pounder Nick Lindholm lost both his matches Friday to Kyler Mars (Richland) and Austin Frazier (Heritage).

• Decatur junior Jerry Doran finished 0-2 in his first trip to the Tacoma Dome. The 130-pounder lost to Moses Lake’s Cameron Chlarson and Lake Stevens’ Kyle Johnson.

• Decatur senior Greg Bull finished 0-2 in the 140-pound bracket with a pair of losses Friday.

• Beamer senior Johnny Kemman dropped both his matches Friday at 285 pounds.

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