The Federal Way high schools may not have won a state title, but all four schools showed serious strength at the 2023 Mat Classic state wrestling championships inside the Tacoma Dome, Feb. 17-18.
One of the highlights was Todd Beamer’s Bangoura siblings, who placed fifth in the girls 190-pound division and the 182-pound boys division. Wrestlers Sekou and Aissata continued the trend of a Bangoura placing at the state tournament; last year, their oldest brother placed at state, too.
“It’s about constantly building up each other, helping each other out. I think I help her out and she helps me out exponentially,” Sekou said of his sophomore sister, Aissata.
For Sekou, a junior, the idea of competing alongside his sister is something he said he’s forever grateful for. “Every day we come and talk to each other about our goals, we even write each other’s names on our shoes.”
Growing up with her brothers, Aissata had always been competing with them her whole life. Now she works closely with her brothers to take down her opponents. “They’ve always been supporting me and giving me advice, and kept me level-headed,” she said.
Neither of the siblings wrestles for a club, but have a tremendous upside for the remainder of their high school careers.
Decatur also had a pair of wrestlers put on a show at this year’s state tournament.
Sophomores Nehemiah Washington and Silaulau “Sissy” Alefaio got on the podium for the Gators. Alefaio finished in third place and was the highest-finishing underclassman for her weight class. Washington was also the highest-finishing underclassman, taking down a fellow sophomore for fifth place.
In four of Washington’s last five matches, he pinned his opponent within the first minute of the match.
“I think that just shows that I’m lazy. I don’t want to be out there too long,” Washington said.
Federal Way’s Cheyenne Wakeham qualified for the state tournament last year but did not place. This year, she wrestled for third place and came out finishing in fourth place.
Thomas Jefferson’s CJ Trevino and Kayle Bearson also placed inside the top eight. Bearson was on his way to the semi-finals before suffering a rib injury that hampered him the rest of the tournament. Despite this, he performed well enough to place in eighth.
Trevino, on the other hand, placed third, beating the 3A Region 3 champion.
The Raiders also had an athlete place inside the top eight. Dyvhette Fonoti won her seventh-place match at state for the Raiders girls wrestling team.