TACOMA — Hunter Cruz is an adaptable wrestler.
He can go for the flashy pin, if it’s available, or control an opponent for six minutes. All that matters is the result — a win.
Cruz showed off his versatility during the two-day Mat Classic on his way to the 160-pound state championship, his second in as many years.
“I had to motivate myself a lot more because I had already won state,” he said. “It was a lot tougher to motivate myself this year, so it meant a lot.”
Cruz pinned his first two opponents before he was pushed some by Gideon Malychewski of Camas in the semifinals. Malychewski was able to score a reversal and tie the match 2-2 before Cruz pulled away with two escapes and a take-down to open up a 6-2 lead after two rounds. Cruz added one more match-sealing take-down in the third round to win 8-4.
The 160-pound finals was a rematch of the Region 3 championship a week ago. Cruz escaped from South Kitsap’s Nathan Marin in the third round for the match’s only point and won 1-0.
“I knew I could ride him out the whole time, so it felt good,” he said. “I don’t think I was in any danger during the match. I just got the W.”
In addition to Cruz’s championship, Moses Lake placed four other wrestlers and finished seventh in the team standings with 74 points.
Seniors Beau Mauseth (182) and Payton Castro (195) finished sixth and fifth, respectively. Freshman Jonathan Tanguma (106) wrapped up his first varsity season with seventh place.
Tanguma lost his first-round match before working his way back up the consolation bracket.
“I’m very proud of myself for making it this far and I am a little angry that I didn’t place higher,” he said. “I feel like I could have done better, but I had a good freshman season and I’m going to come back stronger next year.”
Senior Bailey Sanchez (195) ended his spellbinding run in fourth place.
Sanchez, who replaced injured state veteran Daiman Vasquez in Moses Lake’s dual lineup and was fourth at the regional tournament, was pinned by Nick Beatty of Skyline in the first round. Rather than pack it in and call it a career, Sanchez won his next four matches to reach the consolation finals before losing by fall to Sam Malychewski of Camas.
“I wasn’t going to lose,” Sanchez said. “I didn’t care who was in front of me. I didn’t want to give up at all. Too much pride.”
Class 4A team scores
1. South Kitsap 160
2. Mead 106.5
3. Tahoma 103.5
4. Lake Stevens 96
5. Camas 90
6. Curtis 89
7. Moses Lake 74
Moses Lake placers
106: Jonathan Tanguma, seventh; 160: Hunter Cruz, first; 182: Beau Mauseth, sixth; 195: Payton Castro, fifth; Bailey Sanchez, fourth