Tulalip sophomore becomes two-time state placer

TACOMA — Redemption was the word for Tulalip Heritage sophomore Demitri Robinson.

A defending Class B state champion at 103 pounds last year, Robinson moved up to 125 for his second season at the Mat Classic state wrestling tournament, losing his first-round match against Kaare Anderson in the final seconds.

“He was winning 4-5 with 20 seconds left when he gave up a reversal he couldn’t get out from under,” Tulalip coach Tony Hatch said. Instead, Robinson unexpectedly fell to the consolation bracket, losing a 6-5 decision.

Robinson didn’t let his next opponents get so close. According to Hatch, the game plan for Robinson changed after that, putting wrestlers on their backs and tiring them out. The strategy was effective, as he defeated Zach Finley 17-4 late Feb. 20 to keep wrestling. With a 10-5 decision over Nolan Miller early Feb. 21, he earned a rematch against Anderson for third place.

In a completely different match, Robinson took down Anderson in the first round, extending his lead to 5-0 on a near fall in the second round. Anderson was clearly tired in the third round as Robinson added five more points to shut out Anderson in a 10-0 major decision.

“I’m really happy that he got his redemption,” Hatch said afterward, adding that the sophomore is a natural athlete and a role model to the Tulalip youth wrestling program Hatch coaches.

“It’s kind of hard defending a state title,” added M-P coach Craig Iversen, who coached Robinson during the regular season when he competed for the Tomahawks. “It was nice to see him pull it all together.”

Another wrestler with a target on his back was senior Tannon Hillis, who returned to his second Mat Classic at 215 pounds. Hillis came into the tournament with a tough seed, drawing regional foe Konner Knudtsen in the first round. The Tomahawk took a 3-2 lead, which he maintained until the end of the first round, but a bloody nose that had plagued him much of the postseason returned.

Knudtsen took a considerable lead with a reversal and near fall in the second round, defeating Hillis 9-4.

Hillis bounced back with a 5-2 win against University sophomore Jake Laden, taking the first lead in the match with a three-point near fall in the second round. A pair of escapes added to his total.

Facing elimination, Hillis went hard against Moses Lake senior Spencer Fackrell, a top seed out of that regional. He forced overtime in that match, but couldn’t put on the points, losing an 11-6 decision.

Hillis’ younger teammate, junior Brian Donaldson, also went 1-2 through his first state tournament. Donaldson was pinned in the first round by Wenatchee senior Krayson Gates, but rebounded to defeat Issaquah’s Ben Tickman as he scored two points on a take down in the extra period. He was then pinned by Nolan Richards of Skyline, who went on to face Gates in the match for seventh place.

“Both lost tough matches that would have put them in a medal round,” Iversen said later.

Iversen added of Hillis, “I think he had a wonderful career. He was one of our team captains. He was on the podium here (last year, he took fifth place). He has a lot to be proud of.”

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