TACOMA — Jake Velarde’s birthday present to his mother, Suzie, was a day late. But it was a memorable one.
On Feb. 18 Velarde won the 138-pound 2A State wrestling title, defeating Deer Park’s Joe Grable (4-1) in the Tacoma Dome during the Mat Classic XXIV. It’s Velarde’s third State title. He is the first in the area to win three State titles. And although it was a good birthday present for his mom; “I’ll still take her out to dinner or something,” Jake said Saturday night after his match.
Though he is already a record holder, the North Kitsap High School junior has a shot at breaking his own record and earning four. However, that opportunity is three season away. For now, he will move on to club wrestling.
“We’re just taking it one step at a time, one season at a time,” he said.
Going into the match, coach Joe Amick said he knew it was going to be a difficult match. The two hadn’t competed since last summer.
His match against Grable was slow to start. Velarde was looking for a takedown in the first period, but Grable would not give in. It was in the second period where Velarde changed the pace of the match and started to take over. After Velarde nearly got the fall following a Granby Roll — a reversal typically used to escape from the bottom position — the 0-0 match turned into 3-0. It stayed close, but the North Kitsap wrestler was able to finish.
“He’s a great wrestler,” Velarde said of Grable.
Overall, the North Kitsap wrestling team was just out of reach of placing in the top 10 of 2A schools in the tournament. North earned 44 points for 12th place, six points behind W.F. West.
Along with Velarde’s title, three of the four other wrestlers from North Kitsap placed as well. Brenden Best (285) took sixth place, AJ Milyard (145) took eighth and Jake Sievers (113) took fifth.