Brian Pullman has turned defeating state champions into a habit. He’s done it three times over his high school career, but the final one proved to be the most satisfying. In one of the more physical matches at Mat Classic XXX, Pullman, a senior at Squalicum High School, knocked off defending 220-pound 3A state champion Sam Peterson of Bonney Lake in overtime to claim his own state title at the Tacoma Dome on February 17.
The victory was doubly important to Pullman and his Storm teammates as the points generated from the state championship win pushed Squalicum back into the top 10 in the final team standings.
The Storm finished with 65 points, nipping Marysville-Pilchuck (62 points) to finish 10th overall as a team. Mount Spokane claimed the team state title with 179 points. Bonney Lake (165.5) and Kamiakin (124.5) finished second and third, respectively.
“That’s the biggest part for me, putting us back on the board,” Pullman said. “We worked really hard as a team to get on the board this year and I’m glad I was able to help this team accomplish that.”
It marks the Storm’s first team placing since they finished eighth overall in 2004.
“This is such a weekend of emotions and I am just so proud of Brian and how our kids competed this weekend,” Squalicum head coach Rob Zabel said. “There’s a special bond that this group has and they really genuinely love each other and they fight for each other. (Finishing 10th) is a huge mark for our program. I couldn’t be more proud of our kids. “
For a second consecutive year, the Storm received state medals from four individual wrestlers, highlighted by Pullman’s final triumph.
Squalicum also received fourth-place finishes from junior Jaiden Bundy (113 pounds) and senior Jase Cooper (120) and a sixth place from 285-pound junior Dominick Mack.
Fueled by thoughts of last year’s slim 3-2 loss in the 195-pound state semifinals, Pullman was the embodiment of intensity prior to the match, as he paced the edge of the mat for a good three minutes, occasionally throwing a glance towards Peterson.
“I need to be focused before every match. That’s the most important thing when it comes to wrestling – being focused,” Pullman said. “Wrestling is 80 percent mental. You think you can do it, you can do it.”
Peterson, the state’s top-ranked 220-pounder the entire season, brought a seven state match-winning streak into the showdown as he attempt to be the first back-to-back 220-pound state 3A champion since Timberline’s Stone Hart in 2013.
After a scoreless first period, Pullman was able to score a one-point escape 15 seconds into the second period. The lead would hold until the 1:25 mark of the third when Peterson came up with an escape of his own.
Neither wrestler would score the rest of regulation, sending the match into overtime where Pullman scored a 2-pont takedown with 50 seconds remaining in the extra frame to clinch the state title with a 3-1 win.
“(Peterson) was not doing anything. He was trying to push on me and slow me down because I’m a fast-paced wrestler,” Pullman said. “I just kept on trying to shoot back. He tried to tie me up and slow me down, but it didn’t work at the end.”
While Pullman became a two-time state placer, fellow senior Cooper finished his Storm career as a three-time state placer.
Ferndale also had multiple wrestlers take home medals at the 3A state tournament with junior Jaden Schwartz (145) finishing seventh and senior Alex Cleary (182) collecting a fourth-place finish.
Blaine and Lynden both saw two wrestlers take the podium in the 2A ranks. The Borderites got a fifth from Chase Dubois (160) and a third from Jacob Westfall (182), giving the program its 14th straight season with at least one state placer.
The Lions received seventh-place finishes from Pablo Martinez (120) and Payton Scott (170).
Meridian senior Jake Cheney became the first Trojan wrestler since Chase Schmidtz finished as the 189-pound runner-up in 2000 to advance to a state finals. Cheney finished second in the Class 1A 145-pound championship, losing to Granger’s Juan Isiordia, 12-1.
Mount Baker saw a trio of wrestlers place in the 1A tournament, getting a sixth from senior Jonathon Sanchez (106), a seventh from junior Skyler Isaacson (152) and a fifth from junior Braeden Shannon (285).
Marvin Calmo, a junior from Nooksack Valley, rounded out the list of local state placers as he grabbed the eighth-place medal at 106 pounds.