By AARON MANAGHAN
TACOMA — This is what all that running, all that stamina building and all that endurance training is all about; the state wrestling championships.
That became abundantly clear for Central Kitsap senior Franco Cruz, who went 1-2 in state, exiting on the first day after placing sixth at 135 pounds a year ago. Still, Cruz, competing at the 4A WIAA Mat Classic State Wrestling Championships at the Tacoma Dome, gave all he had on the mat, even it he didn’t have much left.
“Franco gave everything he had,” CK coach Mike Harter said. “It’s been a rough season for him health-wise. The endurance aspect of conditioning showed here.”
Health issues continued as Cruz tried to make it through while battling an illness this week.
“He wrestled very, very hard,” Harter said. “I know he was disappointed.”
Cruz opened the 140-pound bracket with a very close 6-4 loss to University’s Ryan Zumwalt, the eventual fifth-place finisher. He rebounded with a lopsided 15-6 win against Austin Carrillo of Kentlake before getting bounced from the tourney in an extremely tight 3-0 decision to Redmond’s Trevor Long.
“It was a tight match,” Harter said. “Franco had a chance to swing it a couple times. That kid had a chance to swing it a couple times.”
But with about 35 seconds left, it was Long who escaped and got a take down to seal the win.
“Now it’s on to brighter and new things next year,” Harter said.
He said while Cruz will be gone, his impression will remain.
“For a lot of people, he’s been their inspiration,” Harter said of Cruz, who battled sickness and abscesses on his leg this season. “They’ve looked at his success and want to emulate that success.”
Harter said he’ll miss having Cruz around.
“He was here and represented out school well,” Harter said. “I’m very proud of him.”
All the contributions of this year’s seniors, including Cruz, Chad Massidda, Kent Manalo and Bradley Franco, won’t soon be forgotten, Harter said.
“This has been a very hard working group of kids,” he said.