Columbia High senior Regina Bell will be returning to the WIAA Mat Classic in Tacoma on Friday for a shot at her first state medal.
Bell did not place last year in her first trip to state, when she went 1-2 at 118 pounds. This year she is wrestling at 130 and enters the state tournament as a regional champion.
Bell won her first two matches last Saturday at Kelso with first-period falls, then hooked up in the final with Natasha Williams of Skyview.
Williams defeated Bell in the sub-regional final on Feb. 7 by decision. Last Saturday’s weight class final went into overtime, and Bell won it with the first takedown.
Alexis McCafferty, who wrestles at 110, became the first CHS freshman to qualify for state. She placed third in her weight at the regional meet to clinch her spot. For the day, McCafferty won three matches by fall (including the consolation final) and lost one (her second) by fall.
On the boys side, only junior and first-year wrestler Paul Demchuk advanced to state with a fourth-place finish at the regional meet in Hoquiam.
Demchuk finished with a 2-2 mark at 182 pounds, in a tough bracket that included the second-, third-, and fourth-ranked wrestlers in state 1A ratings.
Also making the trip to Tacoma will be four alternates for CHS: senior Catalina “Cat” Suarez, 170; freshman Myles Moon, 113; sophomore Fletcher Andrews, 126; and freshman Alex Medina, 220.
Suarez placed fourth in her bracket, but the regional meet only allowed for three wrestlers to qualify for state.
The cutoff in the boys meet for state qualifying was fourth place. Moon, Andrews, and Medina all placed fifth in their weights.
Bruins Coach Stoner Bell said competition from the Evergreen League “was very strong” at 113 pounds, which made it difficult for Moon (1-2) to find his way to the exit to state.
Andrews had ”his moment of glory in his last match against Kaleb Nielsen of Castle Rock.” Andrews pinned Nielsen in the second period to nail down the alternate position.
“This was the first time Fletcher had beaten Nielsen this season,” Bell noted.
Medina, likewise, secured the alternate position for his weight class in his final bout of the tournament. Medina put Matthew Lincoln of La Center down for the count with 38 seconds remaining in the match. It was revenge for Medina, who lost to Lincoln by fall at last week’s sub-regional meet in Castle Rock.
“Getting three wrestlers and four alternates to state this year was encouraging with such an inexperienced team,” Bell said. “Also encouraging was the number of matches that the newer wrestlers won against opponents that they had lost to earlier in the season. This demonstrated mental maturity and strength that will carry them far next year in the post-season.”