TACOMA — It all happened in the blink of an eye.
One moment, North Kitsap senior Holly Beaudoin had her opponent down on the mat, unable to wriggle free. The next, Beaudoin had flipped her straight on her back. The referee was in perfect position to see it and immediately slammed his hand to the mat.
It was a pin. The wait was over. Beaudoin would finally end a season at the top of the podium.
As soon as the whistle blew, she popped up and leaped into the arms of head coach Robert Gomez. After three second place finishes, three heartbreaks in the finals of the Mat Classic, Beaudoin had reached the top of her weight class.
Beaudoin quickly composed herself, ran back to the center of the mat to shake her opponent’s hand and then the referee lifted her arm in the air to show the packed house at the Tacoma Dome who had just won the 120-pound finals. It was then Beaudoin let loose with the biggest smile she could possibly muster — the catharsis of a dream realized.
“I just knew it was my time,” Beaudoin said.
Like many top wrestlers, Beaudoin entered her freshman year at North Kitsap with the goal of becoming a four-time state champion, something only 16 wrestlers have accomplished in Washington state history.
As a freshman in 2017, it looked like she was going to have a chance to make good on that objective. Beaudoin reached the finals with three consecutive victory, but then lost, 4-3, to Hiraku Abe of Skyview.
Her next two appearances at the Mat Classic followed similarly. At 110 pounds in 2018, she rolled right into the finals, but lost 2-0 to Olyvia Smith of Zillah. Last year at 120, she lost 4-2 to Payton Stroud of White River. In both of those matches, Beaudoin appeared to be a little more tentative than normal, perhaps wrestling to not lose rather than win.
There was certainly something different to her approach this year. Beaudoin went out and pinned South Kitsap’s Brooklyn Roberts just before the end of the first period of her first match.
“Holly had to beat Holly,” Gomez said. “Mentally, she just had to beat herself. Once she did that, I knew it was over.”
In the quarterfinals, she did it again, pinning Julie Wilson of Mountain View in one minute, 58 seconds. In the semifinals, another pin, this one against Aleksi Donahue of Washougal in 2:54 sending her on to the finals.
The key for Beaudoin, who had lost in this spot three times prior by a combined total of five points, was to wrestle like she had nothing to lose.
“My mentality all season, I was just going to go out there, win or lose, I was going to be aggressive and do the best I could,” Beaudoin said. “Before this match I was even thinking about it. You know, if I’m a four-time runner-up, that’s what I am. That’s what God’s plan was for me was and there’s nothing I can do about that.”
And right from the get-go of her finals match against Maizy Feltwell of Liberty (Spangle), Beaudoin was on the attack. She immediately took a shot and scored two points on a takedown. She was completely in control for the entirety of the three minute, 31 second match. Beaudoin was leading 9-0 when she decisively pinned her final high school opponent.