In this edition of “Weighing In,” we’ll look at Shorewood’s top wrestler, junior Matthew Floresca and his bid to become the school’s second state champion.
Also, we’ll take a look at Marquee matches upcoming, Top targets, Big performances and links to state rankings individually and team.
Derek Norton has not seen too many wrestlers with the drive of Shorewood High School junior Matthew Floresca.
Floresca would run through a brick wall to win. He’s that determined.
Strong-minded and strong-willed, the 126-pound Floresca is looking to make school history and become the school’s first state champion since Tim Hester won the 189-pound class in 2008.
Hester was the school’s first state champion. Floresca looks ready to join the club.
Norton figures it will be difficult to deny the ever-improving Floresca, who opened the 2012-13 season with a 15-0 start mixed between 126 and 132 to hike his high-school record to 73-7.
“He’s tough and he’s good, but some of those 132-pounders can be pretty big, so he’s going at 126 the rest of the season,” said Norton, the fifth-year Shorewood head wrestling coach. “It’s kind of the same group of kids he faced the last couple years, and they have all moved up together. He’s put in a ton work and he’s really hungry.
“He’s been on varsity the day he walked onto the wrestling mat at Shorewood. Matthew thinks he can beat anybody. He’s worked hard enough, he knows he can win.”
Floresca has downed some of the state’s top competition already en route to his perfect start and No. 1 ranking for all state classifications at 126 by www.washingtonwrestlingreport.net.
The Thunderbirds leader took fourth at 120 to finish 29-3 as a sophomore after nailing down seventh at 112 as freshman to finish 29-4.
“He was really disappointed with fourth place last year,” Norton said. “He thinks he should have won it.”
Floresca lost a heart-breaking 1-0 decision in the quarterfinal round of state last season to eventual 120-pound champion Andrew Cunningham, who was a senior last season. That loss particularly drives Floresca, along with two other losses to Cunningham.
Floresca has already beaten Bonney Lake junior Colton Tracy, a two-time state runner-up including a second at 3A 113 last season, this season. He also has knocked off Glacier Peak’s John Kim, ranked No. 6 at 126 in 3A.
Kelso senior Josh Newberg, a two-time state champion, likely awaits later in the season at 126 in 3A.
Floresca also topped Logan Pine of Olympia twice this season in tournaments.
Over the summer in July, Floresca became an All-American with his fifth-place showing at 120 pounds in the USAW Cadet National Championships in Fargo, ND. Cadet class is ages 14-16.
“That is one of the toughest tournaments in the country,” Norton said. “He trained with the Washington national team and went their Cadet dual team and competed in Daytona Beach, Fla. He’s competing at a level that’s getting him national recognition now.”
Powered by six individual champions, Shorewood captured its first Shorewood Invitational team crown in 21 years with its victory on Saturday in the Thunderbirds’ gymnasium.
In addition to Floresca taking top honors at 132, the Thunderbirds got titles from Erik Harris-Uldall (138), Dawda Dibba (145), Konnor Carpenter (195), Ben Avilla (220) and Erca Erdenbayer (285).
Shorewood’s team total of 215.5 points bested seven other rivals. Granite Falls took second at 177.5 and Roosevelt (106) and Shorecrest (105) were third and fourth, respectively.
“We’ve hosted that tournament the entire time we’ve had it [21 years] and come close to winning it, but this year we finally won it,” said Norton, an assistant coach for four years at Shorewood before taking over as head coach in 2008-2009. “We’ve been slowly growing as a program. Two years ago, we sent six wrestlers to state and two last year.”
The T-Birds face a new state-qualifying process as the WesCo 3A South Division combines with the Mid-Columbia Conference and Greater Spokane League for regionals at Sunnyside High School on Feb. 8.
“Our path to state is going to be a pretty brutal one, and we should take three or four kids to state,” Norton said. “Anybody who makes it to state from our region has a pretty good chance to place. They split up WesCo North and South this year and they are sending us on the other side of the mountains.”
Snohomish Panther Classic
On the strength of three individual titlists, Decatur wrapped up the team crown at Saturday’s Snohomish Panther Classic at Snohomish High School.
Led by champions Isaiah Diggs (138), Nick Karis (170) and Kyle Gleed (285), the Gators put up a winning total of 171 points to Snohomish’s runner-up total of 147.
Bethel was third at 128.5 and Glacier Peak was fourth with 120.5.
Karis, second at 160 pounds for Class 3A state in 2012, is rated No. 1 among 3A wrestlers at 170 and No. 3 overall for all classifications in the state by www.washingtonwrestlingreport.net.
Marquee matches upcoming
…. Auburn Mountainview Tournament of Champions will take place on Saturday.
… The 36th MatMan Classic will take place on Saturday at Central Kitsap High School in Silverdale.
… The Washington Dream Duals are just around the corner on Jan. 18 at East Valley High School in Spokane.
… Enumclaw, ranked No. 2 in Class 3A, travels to Decatur, ranked No. 4 in 3A, for pivotal South Puget Sound League (SPSL) 3A dual meet on Thursday, Jan. 17.
… Tahoma, the defending Class 4A state champion and ranked No. 1 to open the season, travels to Enumclaw for the 11th “Battle of the Bone” on Saturday, Jan. 26.
Top targets & Big performances
… Southridge senior Kevin Del Angel hiked his unbeaten record at 195 pounds to 21-0. Del Angel was sixth at 170 pounds in 3A last year.
… Kentlake sophomore Nicholas Smith ran his record to 18-0 at 106 pounds over the weekend.
… Everett senior Jessie Lopez (138) and Lake Stevens senior Brandon Johnson (285) pushed their records to 17-0 entering this week. Lopez won the 132-pound class in 3A as a junior and Johnson was runner-up at 285 in 4A as a junior.
Class 4A & 3A, 2A, 1A, B & girls
All-Class individual rankings
Here are three valuable wrestling resources on the web:
Searchable database for results
Team and individual rankings
When there’s top performance or noteworthy event in high-school wrestling, please feel to send it to email@example.com and to the attention of Matt Massey.