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Wrestling: Marysville-Pilchuck's Donaldson, Hillis return to state
SNOHOMISH — A goal conceived half his lifetime ago has been met.
Marysville-Pilchuck junior Brian Donaldson will compete in the state wrestling tournament. With a No. 3 seed at 130 pounds, Donaldson is the highest-seeded of the three wrestlers traveling to compete against the state’s elite in Tacoma Feb. 20 and 21.
“It feels good. I’ve been wrestling since I was eight years old and I wanted to go to the Mat Classic,” he said. “My hard work paid off.”
As a sophomore, Donaldson placed fifth at the regional, traveling to the Mat Classic as an alternate at 112 pounds. He traveled with his teammates, experiencing the weigh-in and atmosphere, but didn’t compete.
Already dedicated to his sport, the taste he got as an alternate didn’t change his work habits.
“It just meant that I didn’t meet the goal,” Donaldson said. “I kept training hard in the off-season, freestyling and lifting weights.”
A growth spurt bumped him to 135 pounds, where he competed all season long, until the postseason came along. WIAA rules allow a two-pound allowance, which made it easier for Donaldson to qualify at 130.
Donaldson took third at the district tournament at M-P Feb. 6 and 7, matching the effort at the regional Feb. 13 and 14 despite the additional competition from SPSL North wrestlers. Donaldson credited a key win in his second match against Kentwood senior Billy Creighton for his showing. Donaldson won that match 4-2. A loss to regional champ Sam Ottow bumped Donaldson into the consolation bracket, where he won back-to-back matches, including a 9-7 overtime thriller for the third seed. He’ll face Wenatchee’s Krayson Gates in the first round of the Mat Classic.
Joining him in competition will be teammate Tannon Hillis, who returns for his second state tournament.
Hillis, a senior, returns to compete at 215 pounds, where he placed fifth as a junior. He’ll face a tougher route to the podium this year, coming out regionals with a No. 5 seed.
After a first-round bye, Hillis pinned his first challenger in the first round. Then he met up against Tahoma junior Konner Knudtsen, a favorite to place at this year’s state tournament. Hillis fell in the first round and still looked a little shaken-up as he faced Mariner’s Garry Kroshko to face Snohomish’s Derek Britton for third and fourth place.
Hillis never led the match against Kroshko, trailing 6-1 by the end of the second round and falling to the fifth-place match with an 11-4 decision.
He rebounded to pin Edmonds-Woodway’s Alex Rutledge and earn the return trip to Tacoma.
Hillis is slated to face Knudtsen in a opening-round rematch Feb. 20.
The boys will be joined by sophomore Brandon Blevins, who is an alternate at 119 pounds. Blevins went 3-3 through regionals, with the misfortune to match twice against Sam Warren of Edmonds-Woodway. Although he improved in the second meeting, Warren won the fifth-sixth match for the chance to compete in the tournament.
Freshman Christian Mendoza also placed at regionals, finishing in eighth place at 112 pounds.