It was hard, but it was worth it.
That’s how Redmond High’s Jeremy Hernandez characterized his 145-pound 3A state championship wrestling match on Saturday at the Tacoma Dome.
The Mustang junior battled to second place against Mason Phillip of Stanwood on a technical fall at 3:56, and finished two places up in the same weight division than he did at last year’s state event.
Redmond sophomores Molly Williams and Leah Hiatt wrestled in the 110-pound fifth-/sixth-place match at state, with Williams winning by a pin at 1:59. Williams took seventh last year at 105 pounds.
“It was tough. I’ve never gone against a guy so strong before. I’ve wrestled him in the preseason, but this guy, he’s talented, he practices over and over and this is his sport,” Hernandez said of Phillip, who notched his third state crown.
“I saw this as a moment of improvement,” he added, noting that he’s already looking forward to getting another shot at a title next year.
Armed with a deli sandwich a few hours before the final, Hernandez said he was going to meet with his coaches to discuss his early matches at state to prepare for the title match. Hernandez notched two pins in his three wins en route to his matchup with Phillip.
He told himself over and over that he was going to advance to the final.
“I definitely knew I was gonna win, I was gonna make it through the first day. I definitely was a little anxious day of, but that’s what happens,” Hernandez said.
The Mustang felt his training and conditioning placed him one step ahead of his opponents from the start to the semis, “That’s what keeps me moving and pushing the pace and eventually winning the match.”
It wasn’t anything new, but Williams and Hiatt said they enjoyed facing off against each other in the tournament.
“It’s super cool. We wrestle a lot in the finals at a lot of tournaments. It’s crazy that out of the whole state, you end up wrestling your teammate,” said Williams, noting that they kept things lighthearted and fun beforehand while discussing the upcoming match with coach Esteban Herrera.
Hiatt said it was redundant to meet on the mat with Williams again, but things were taken up a notch since it was Mat Classic XXX and occurring in the massive Tacoma Dome in front of a large crowd.
“Of course, she always ends up winning by a couple points. The pin was awesome, I’m really happy for her. She deserves it, certainly,” Hiatt said.
Williams finished 4-2 at state and Hiatt went 3-3.
Williams said she was more calm at state this year and knew what to expect when the matches began. She was also more aggressive.
Overall this season, she’s learned “to have more confidence in myself, just to realize I can wrestle against any other girl and I’m just as good as any other girl.”
This was also a return trip to state for Hiatt and she was satisfied to stand on the medal podium this time out.
“I feel like I made extreme progress since last year,” she said.