WRESTLING: Navejas snags Pac Coast title, aims at perfect season

He wants perfection.

A little less than a half way through the prep wrestling season, Kentwood High standout Ruben Navejas has got it. Navejas, the state’s top 103-pound wrestler and the defending Class 4A state champion, continued his dominance during the holiday break in the Pacific Coast Championship held at Hudson’s Bay High in Vancouver on Jan. 1-2.

The Kentwood junior cruised through the 103-pound weight class, working three pins and two major decisions en route to the title in his bracket.

Impressively, Navejas wasn’t entirely on top of his game during the tournament.

“I was a little bit sluggish. I waited too long to get the weight down,” admitted Navejas, who typically weighs in at 111 pounds, but had to trim a bit of weight before the tournament. “I was a little bit heavy coming into the week and waited too long.”

That sluggish feeling, however, hardly translated on the mat. Navejas opened the tournament, considered one of the toughest during the regular season, with a pin in 1:13 of East Valley’s Gavin Ihasz. Navejas continued the onslaught with a pin (1:05) over Jon Cobb of Hudson’s Bay. The Kentwood junior followed with a pin of Auburn Mountainview’s Tyke Reid (2:10) before being forced into going a full three periods against Graham-Kapowsin’s Jake Konzal, a match the KW star prevailed 13-4.

Navejas finished in strong fashion as well, working over Evergreen’s Michael Nguyen 19-6 for the 103-pound title.

With the wins, Navejas, who has bounced between 103 and 112 pounds all season, improved his record to a perfect 16-0.

“I’ve gone up and dominated at 112, gone down and dominated at 103,” he said. “I just want to stay dominant.”

And perfect, too.

Last season, Navejas posted a superlative 38-2 overall record en route to claiming his first state crown. Entering the week, he had a career mark of 94-4. His 16-0 record so far this season includes 12 pins, two major decisions and two technical falls.

Kentwood coach Ken Sroka noted that Navejas is even better this season.

“Absolutely. He works just as hard as he always has … he’s just a tough kid,” Sroka said. “And he’s at the same weight where guys who were at his weight are now bigger and he’s getting new guys all the time.

“He’s the king of staying at that weight.”

Kentwood finished 14th as a team at the 32-team tournament, posting 87 points. Graham-Kapowsin took the team title with 176 points.

Hayden Peterson (119) was the only other Kentwood wrestler to finish among the top six. Peterson finished in sixth place and won four of his six matches. Brackets consisted of roughly 32 wrestlers, which is double the size of those at the state tournament. Peterson, a junior, suffered a mild concussion during the tournament, but is expected to be back on the mat next week.

“He had a great tournament,” Sroka said. “He got smashed on the head. He’ll be off for a week, week and a half and then we’ll take it from there and see how it goes.”

Kentwood was the only local team to compete in the tournament.

• ALSO: Navejas isn’t the only local wrestler dominating on the mat this winter. Kent-Meridian’s Jesus Valdez (103 pounds) entered the week with a 20-1 overall mark while teammate Nick Lemmon was at 15-3. Meanwhile, Kentridge’s Dillon Serr was sporting a 17-2 mark at the start of the week while teammates Nick Aliment (16-3) and Tyler Heinz (11-3) also were enjoying good success.

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