Just who are Washington's No. 1 wrestlers?

Courtesy Tom Baun
Katie Leithead
S-E Staff Reporter

It's a simple questions, who are Washington's No. 1 high school wrestlers? A wrestling duel event in Tohma-Maple Valley, in King County, made the answer clear on Dec. 27.

Justin Newby, executive director of Washington USA Wrestling, put on the tournament compiling some of the best high school wrestlers in the state. It was an idea first conceived by him and Orting coach Jody Coleman at a wrestling clinic in Colorado, and sponsored by MyHouse Sporting Gear.

Newby and a team of coaches invited 28 students across 14 weight classes. Among them were Colville High School wrestlers John Knight and Trent Baun.

“Our goal is to celebrate our sport, spread awareness through the country and showcase some of Washington's best athletes,” Newby said.

An important reason to show outside universities the prowess of Washington wrestlers is because the only college wrestling program in the state is at Highline College, so most graduates leave the state if they want to pursue the sport. Newby said the lack of wrestling programs in colleges is also why not as many universities scout in Washington.

“We wanted to create a platform that gave college scouts the best opportunity to see our best kids,” Newby said. Colleges coaches were encouraged to watch live feed of the event.

While wrestlers came from all over the state, Knight and Baun were the only ones there from a 1A school. There's a bit of a stigma in smaller schools that they don't produce strong athletes, but that's not true when it comes to CHS' program.

At 126 pounds Baun beat Gabe Hawthorne of White River 10-6. At 182 pounds Knight won against Jacob Cassaday of Decatur with a technical fall 15-0.

“A lot of these kids never match up, they never see each other,” Newby said.

The full story is available online here or by picking up the Jan. 3, 2017 edition of the S-E.