State wrestling preview: Wrestlers to watch at Mat Classic XXIII

TACOMA — Mat Classic XXXII is set for this weekend at the Tacoma Dome and Kitsap has a number of wrestlers contending for state titles and podium finishes.

The action kicks off with the first session at 10 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 21 and continues until 2 p.m. The second Friday session runs from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. Doors open to the public at 8:45 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 22 and matches begin at 9:45 a.m. The championship finals are expected to begin at approximately 5 p.m.

Here are 15 wrestlers to watch at this year’s Mat Classic in alphabetical order.

Holly Beaudoin, North Kitsap, Girls 120: The North Kitsap senior has placed second three times at the Mat Classic and is looking to reach the finals for a fourth consecutive year and capture her first state title. Beaudoin’s first opponent is South Kitsap’s Brooklyn Roberts.

Kenzie Cormier, North Kitsap, Girls 140: Cormier placed second, fourth and fourth in her three seasons at Enumclaw before transferring to North Kitsap this year and boosting the Vikings’ team title hopes. She’ll take on Abby Piper of North Central in the first round.

Xavier Eaglin, South Kitsap, 4A 138: Eaglin won it all as a freshman at 106 and then moved up to 126 last year where he finished fifth. He moved up again this year to 138 and is currently ranked second in that weight class. He’ll have to watch out for three-time state runner up Robby Vaughn of Chiawana. Eaglin starts off his Mat Classic against Scott Maclaren of Kennedy Catholic.

Kelton Gagnon, Klahowya, 1A 113: Gagnon was a revelation all year long as a freshman last year and he finished up in fourth place at 106. He moves up to 113 this year where Washington Wrestling Report has him ranked first. He’ll take on Juan Martinez of Cascade in the first round.

Robert Gomez, North Kitsap, 2A 132: The Vikings junior placed eighth his freshman year and fourth his sophomore year. He hopes to continue to ascend this year, but faces his toughest challenge yet in a deep bracket that features two-time state champ Haiden Drury of Toppenish. Gomez will take on Bryce Farruggia of Sedro-Wooley in the first round.

Nouh Hammou, North Kitsap, 2A 195: The elder Hammou brother is seeking his first ever state finals appearance after placing fifth and fourth over the past two years. To get there, he’ll have to get by the likes of Isaac Reavis of W.F. West, who is likely the toughest opponent on his side of the bracket He takes on Henry Jones of Washougal in the first round.

Sofian Hammou, North Kitsap, 2A 220: Sofian may be the younger brother, but he’s the bigger one, already wrestling at 220 pounds as a freshman. He’s got two-time state champ Amadeo Flores-Pimental of Selah on his side of the bracket and begins his first ever Mat Classic against Derryck Wallace of Franklin Pierce.

Cameron Johnson, Klahowya, 1A 106: Johnson scored his first place at the Mat Classic last year, taking eighth at 106 and he’s back in that weight class again this year. He goes up against Conner Demorest of Forks in the round.

Thor Michaelson, Bremerton, 2A 138: Michaelson has been a freshman sensation all season for the Knights and Washington Wrestling Report has him ranked first in his weight class ahead of two-time state champ Kyler Romero of Toppenish, which tells you how much respect his skill already commands. Wrestling fans all over the state are salivating at the thought of a 138 final between those two wrestlers, but first Michaelson starts with Jack Cheatham of Blaine.

Peyton Motter, South Kitsap, 4A 106: The Wolves senior lightweight is looking to place at the Mat Classic for the first time in his career. He is currently ranked sixth in his weightclass and his first opponent will be Noah Cormier of Enumclaw.

Mitchell Neiner, South Kitsap, 4A 113: Neiner has had an outstanding freshman season for the Wolves and now he enters a 113 bracket that is fairly wide open but features a number of strong wrestlers. Neiner will take on 12th-ranked Ruben Lozano of Walla Walla in the first round.

Anjelo Pangelinan, Olympic, 2A 113: Pangelinan has placed twice at the Mat Classic, finishing seventh as a sophomore and sixth as a junior. He’s in a tough bracket that features defending champ Horacio Godinez of Toppenish. If Pangelinan gets by first round opponent Luke Golphenee of Washougal, he’s got a challenging second round matchup against Reyden Huizar of Prosser.

Garrett Swanson, Bainbridge, 3A 106: The Spartans’ sole qualifier is back for his second shot at a podium at the Mat Classic after participating as a sophomore. He faces Ashton Dunn of Shadle Park in the first round

Logan Stafford, South Kitsap, 4A 182: The Wolves junior is back for his second Mat Classic and has defending 182 champ Tyson Stover of Chiawana on his side of the bracket. He’ll start with Brad Clay of Decatur in the first round.

Hunter Wallis, Klahowya, 1A 182: Wallis took seventh as a sophomore at 170 and starts this year’s tournament with Mark Bonilla of Connell in the first round.