Kentridge High’s John Shores is familiar with all the demands and high expectations that come with pursuing a place at the state wrestling tournament come February.
Will Sirbu, the Chargers’ unknown junior, is just getting started.
Both shone brightly last Saturday, capturing individual class titles at the Doc Herren Invitational at Auburn High School’s Bob Jones Gymnasium.
Shores, who reached the Mat Classic field at 145 pounds last year, continued his strong early-season run by taking the 152-pound crown in dominating fashion. Shores, a senior, handled Enumclaw’s Quinton Southcott, who finished fourth at state at 138 pounds last year, in the championship bout.
“I feel like I’m peaking right now,” said Shores after dispatching Southcott with quickness and skill, 5-0. “I feel like I will be ready for state.”
Shores has vastly improved from a year ago, having invested in tougher mat time this winter. He recently finished third at the heralded Tri-State showdown in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. He competed well at a national-caliber tournament in Las Vegas, Nev.
“I learned to stay patient and wait for the move to come for you,” Shores said of competing at prestigious invitational at North Idaho College.
For his efforts, Shores was selected the tournament’s most oustanding heavyweight wrestler.
Sirbu, meanwhile, is a surprising talent for coach Todd Lantz, somewhat of a quick study with few varsity bouts to his credit. After receiving a first-round bye, the 106-pounder unleashed three quick falls before pinning Ballard’s Isaiah Larkin at the 4:54 mark.
“A remarkable story,” Lantz said.
Kentridge’s Tyler Smith was third at 138 pounds.
Kentwood had four wrestlers in the finals and finished fourth in the team standings. Stephen Watson (160 pounds), Zack Allen (170), Connor Plett (195) and Michael Orozco (220) took second.
Puyallup’s Nolan Martinez held off a determined Watson, 7-4. Puyallup’s Isaac Clark scored a 6-2 decision over Allen, who overcame a 14-13 decision against Emerald Ridge’s Kaden Martin in a wild semifinal.
Spanaway’s Falemalama Weggen pulled a late escape to edge Plett, 5-4.
Auburn Riverside’s Will Russell scored a takedown with two seconds left in regulation to defeat Orozco, 3-1. For most of the match, the combatants stood toe-to-toe.
“Will’s game plan is to always use his cardio. He’s got great conditioning,” said Auburn Riverside coach Kyle Jones, whose team took the title. “As the match went on, you could tell the other guy was tiring. (Will) just needed to pull the trigger a little faster, but, as soon as he did, we got our two (points).”
For Kent-Meridian, junior Alex Long was third at 152 pounds.