Hartford finishes on top again; four Wolves place in Mat Classic

Michaelson takes first for Bremerton

South Kitsap senior Stone Hartford hit the mat strutting, walking the walk and talking the talk throughout Feb. 17, the second and final day of the Mat Classic XXXV wrestling tournament at the Tacoma Dome.

It was quite the attitude and posture for someone who had suffered a brutalizing loss in the semifinal round of last year’s state tournament, preventing his bid for a repeat title and a pathway to the exclusive club of three-time title holders. Even more unsettling was his first opponent of the day, Christopher Villanueva, whose singlet uniform bore the name of the school that stopped Hartford from the 2023 championship appearance.

Still, cool and confident was Hartford, and his message for those anticipating victory in a match with him was plain: “That’s not going to happen around me.”

Simply put, it did not. A little after 5 p.m., just a few hours after narrowly avenging last year’s loss in a 3-2 decision, he backed up all that talk, capturing for the second time as a Wolf the pinnacle of achievements in state high school wrestling.

Hartford’s final victory for the 4A 144-pound bracket via another 3-2 decision, this time over Jordan Tobias, was the high point of the tourney for coach Conner Hartmann and his notably smaller yet just as competitive crew of wrestlers.

“A lot of our kids just wrestle with a ton of heart,” he said. “I usually don’t mind, when all is said and done if someone wins and loses as long as the effort was there. In this case, it certainly was.”

Yet, Hartford’s pathway to the state title match could just have easily been tainted by some unfortunate post-match activities in the bout with Villanueva. After the final whistle, Hartford appeared to stand over his opponent, who retaliated with a hard shove to the chest.

Coaches and officials prevented any further physical contact between the two, but as he walked away, Hartford appeared to hit a high-stepping strut and cupped his hand to his ear multiple times in the direction of the crowd.

Hartmann said afterward that his wrestler was simply doing what he had been taught to do in such an event: walk away. “He was walking away and looking at the corner and could easily have been misinterpreted that other way. I told the secondary official that too, and he said it makes sense.”

However, Hartford’s words strayed from what his coach said, admitting to select showboat gestures. “It was in the moment. He kind of deserved it,” Hartford said, even claiming his opponent had landed a dirty punch in his midsection. “I think he was a little riled up, expecting to win.”

In the end, the only repercussion dealt was a team point deduction from Villanueva’s team, a fair assessment given the tensions of the day. “I mean, the long story short is there’s a lot of emotions running high at state,” Hartmann said.

Three other Wolves took home hardware by the tournament’s conclusion. The up-and-coming talent for the boys team landed the Wolves a fourth-place finish for sophomore Brennen Williams in the 126-pound bracket and a third-place finish courtesy of freshman standout Dylan Sternod in the 106-pound bracket.

Said Hartmann of his young freshman, “Just a great attitude. Even when he’s done and off the mat, he has the attitude of just someone who cares about the sport and is constantly learning. I love that.”

Senior Rosemary Brooks ensured the Lady Wolves would not be left out of the conversation, earning a final win to take fifth place in the 3A/4A 125-pound bracket.

The Wolves finished eighth in the 4A division with 70 points. Others at state for SK were: Braden Shook went 1-2 at 150 pounds, Chase Eaglin 1-2 at 157 pounds, Hayden Sternod 1-2 at 113 pounds with one pin, and, on the girls side, Tayla Abundis went 0-2.

Others from West Sound:


Lars Michaelson was one of the most dominant wrestlers at the Mat Classic. Michaelson won at 190 pounds with three first-period pins and a 25-10 tech fall.

Anthony Murphy went 0-2 in the 2A 120-pound bracket, losing by tech fall and pin.


Kevin Hudson won at 285 pounds, earning four pins. Hudson defeated Othello’s Mason Perez in the finals with a third-period pin.

Alexander Bullman went 4-2 at 215 pounds and secured fifth place.

DeQuan Freeland went 3-2 and finished seventh at heavyweight.

Mason Mangolna finished 0-2 in the 126 bracket.

Miles Brown went 1-2 at 157 pounds.

Central Kitsap

Deijah Diego competed in the 3A/4A 125 bracket. Diego went 3-2, reached the semis and finished fourth in the bracket. Despite losing his first match, Carter Chadwick went 3-2 and finished seventh at 138 pounds.

Nathan Cronin finished 1-2 at the 3A 106 bracket; he did reach the quarterfinals.

Wyatt Harper went 2-2 at 150 pounds. Brayden Turano went 0-2 at 165 pounds.


Carson Wintch went 2-3 at 120 pounds and finished sixth. Wintch’s two wins came by pins.

Sean Price won his first two matches at 150 pounds and reached the semis. However, he lost three straight and ended sixth.

Deacon Wintch went 2-2 at 126 pounds.

Bishop Bessler went 1-2 at 138 pounds with his only victory coming in overtime.

Reece DeCourval struggled at 144 pounds, going 0-2.