In this edition of “Weighing In,” we’ll look at the drive of Meadowdale senior Ciaran Ball to follow in the footsteps of friend and former teammate Morgan Smith, who won the 160-pound title in Class 3A last season. Also, we’ll take a look at Marquee matches upcoming, Top targets, Big performances and links to state rankings individually and team.
Ball ready to answer the bell, follow in Smith’s footsteps as state champ
Ciaran Ball watched as his Meadowdale High School teammate and workout partner Morgan Smith celebrated his 160-pound state title in Class 3A last February.
Ball was proud of his Mavericks’ teammate. But it was also a signal to Ball that he needed to step up his efforts if he wanted more.
Smith, then a senior, has since graduated, but Ball knew he had one more chance and was ready to give his all in the offseason for this his final high-school season.
Ball, who took fourth at 195 as a junior and fifth at 195 as a sophomore in 3A, instantly became more dedicated, stepping his running regimen and footwork sessions. Ball is going all-in to become a state champion as a senior.
“When I saw Morgan win, I was thinking fourth and fifth are pretty good, but I want the state title,” said Ball, who is off to a 19-1 start with 15 pins at 195 as a senior. “There’s always a little extra you can do. I’m going to work, because I really want that. I’m trying to outwork my competitors as much as I can.”
The throttle has been pushed to the floorboard for Ball. The spark was knowing all the hard work he watched Smith put in and seeing the payoff.
“Watching [Morgan] win a state title, made a huge impact,” said Ball, whose lone loss so far in 2013-2014 was at the Tri-State Tournament to Cody Vigoren of 4A Lake Stevens 4-0 in the 195 semifinals. “I saw his work ethic and how he was. I just kind of replicated what he did, but in my own way. He did a lot of offseason training and he wrestled year-round.
“I decided to do that.”
Ball did more of everything. More running. More camps. More lifting. More drills.
“I got a lot of mat time in the offseason,” he said. “When I saw [Morgan] win the state title, it was a crystal-clear moment. It opened my eyes to what hard work looks like. I watched him put so much hard work in, and the payoff was his state championship.”
Ball expects more from himself when the best wrestlers in the state of Washington convene at the Tacoma Dome for Mat Classic XXV on Feb. 21-22. Ranked No. 1 at 195 pounds in 3A by www.washingtonwrestlingreport.net, it’s clear others expect a lot from him as well.
Ball owns a quality win already this season. He pinned Vashon’s Preston Morris, the state 1A runner-up at 195 last season, last Saturday at the Everett Classic. He took third at 195 at always-tough Tri-State.
“He pinned him in the first round, and you usually don’t pin state champions or guys like that,” Boardman said.
His coach, Brian Boardman, knows that Ball is ready for a state-title run. Ball’s work in the wrestling room as Smith’s workout partner should yield results.
“Steel sharpens steel,” Boardman said of Ball and Smith going at each other in practice. “That’s one of the quotes we like to use. One of the reasons Morgan got where he did was because of Ciaran. With Ciaran, Morgan couldn’t have made it.
“And the same goes for Ciaran without Morgan. They pushed each other. He got to see Morgan as a role model.”
For his senior season, Ball has Morgan Smith’s brother, Tim, as a workout partner. Tim Smith is a bigger version of his brother at 220 pounds, testing Ball in workouts in a different way.
“Morgan and I are really close,” said Ball, who is thinking of joining Smith at Simon Fraser University in the wrestling program. “We’re still good friends today. He’s up there [Burnaby, B.C.] and really loves it. I’m looking at that school myself and I might join him there.”
Smith went from state alternate as a sophomore to state qualifier as a junior to state champion as a senior.
That did not go unnoticed by Ball.
Ball has grown a lot mentally and physically since starting his high-school career at 189 pounds, opting up instead trying to get down to the 171-pound weight class while weighing in at 175.
“I just staying up [in class] and decided to do that,” Ball said.
Those early challenges and struggles built a foundation, one for the future. Boardman remembers injury and youth holding back Ball as a freshman, but now the potential is limitless.
“Like most freshman, he took his lumps,” he said. “He came in injured his freshman year and he was hurt most of the season, so that was part not going as far as he’d like. He was coming off an elbow injury from his eighth-grade year and it was very severe. He came back and had a good sophomore year. We were working on his confidence and trusting his moves and he built on that his junior year.
“We saw a lot of growth. The big thing that helped him was working out with Morgan and seeing all the extra time Morgan put in. He saw what that extra work can get you.”
There’s a new Ball in town.
“He’s putting that time in,” Boardman said. “He knows what he does outside [school] practice makes the difference. He’s running before and after practice.
“He’s really pushing himself. Wrestling can be a five-hour day. You have to know you’re putting in more time than anyone else.”
The extra work in the offseason is showing up in matches this season.
“I felt I’ve improved a lot,” Ball said. “Last year, I felt kind of weak on my shots, my takedowns. I’ve worked at getting those a lot better. Overall, I feel like I have bigger gas tank and I’m more confident.”
Ball is an example this season and one of the Mavericks’ captains.
“He’s just working hard,” Boardman said. “He’s constantly pushing people. He won’t settle for anything but first and he’s put the time in. He’s definitely transformed.”
CIARAN BALL PROFILE
Meadowdale High School, senior
2013-14 (Senior) – 19-1 start, 15 pins.
2012-13 (Junior) – 33-3, 4th place at 195 in 3A
2011-12 (Sophomore) – 32-4, 5th place at 195 in 3A
2010-11 (Freshman) – 7-4 at 189, did not qualify for state, coming off elbow injury that required surgery and was ill during postseason
Career record – 91-12 so far.
Marquee matches upcoming
… Kentridge (1-0) hosts Kentwood (2-1) on Wednesday in a key South Puget Sound League (SPSL) North Division dual match. The match begins at 7:30 p.m.
… The Panther Invitational Classic takes place on Saturday at Snohomish High School and should attract a strong field. The event starts at 10 a.m.
… Top-ranked Lake Stevens travels to ninth-ranked Arlington on Friday for an interesting WesCo 4A North Division dual meet. The dual meet begins at 7 p.m.
… Port Angeles (2A) is off to an 8-0 start.
… Lake Stevens (4A), the defending champion in Class 4A, is also off to a 7-1 start in duals in 2013-14. Snohomish is also 7-1.
… Skyline (4A) is off to a 6-0 start in dual meets in 2013-2014. Another KingCo 4A school, Woodinville, is 6-1.
… Washington state made a strong showing at Saturday’s PacCoast Wrestling Tournament at Hudson’s Bay High School in Vancouver.
Yelm was second with 145 points, close to the winning score of Dallas, Ore. (159.5).
Union of Vancouver took third with 144 points, Toppenish was fourth with 124.5 and Decatur fifth at 121.
In a clash of state finalists from 2013 and seasoned seniors, Kelso’s Tyler Wicken outdueled Shorewood’s Matthew Floresca 3-2 in quadruple overtime in the 132-pound final. Wicken was the 3A state runner-up at 132 last season and Floresca was the 3A state runner-up at 126 last season.
Leviticus Arizpe of Decatur hauled in the 126-pound title, beating Oregon City’s Devin Poppen 10-8 in the championship bout of that class.
Christian Villani, a junior from Bellevue and the defending state champion in 3A at 132 pounds, took top honors in the 145-pound weight class with a 14-7 decision over Hudson’s Bay senior Gunnar Metzger.
Spencer Crawford of Cascade (Everett) wrapped up the 160-pound weight class with a 3-2 decision over Gresham’s Colby Winnett.
Ryan Christensen, the defending 4A state champion at 182, tore through the 182 class and secured the title with a 10-0 win over Haszell West of Jefferson, Ore.
Yelm’s Darren Harris, state runner-up in 4A at 113 last season, cruised to the 120-pound crown, pinning David Garcia in 53 seconds in the final.
… Tahoma won the team title at the SPSL All-Division Wrestling Tournament on Dec. 30-31, 2013 at Auburn High School.
The Bears, who registered 24 pins in the tourney, finished atop the team standings with 235.5 points to second-place Orting’s 156 points.
Bethel was third at 154, Beamer fourth at 147 and Enumclaw fifth at 142. The Hornets posted 22 pins.
Bethel’s Eli Teu Teu posted five pins in the competition at 195 pounds.
The Bears got individual titles from Nick Whitehead (120) and Cruz Velasquez (132).
… Lindbergh rode three individual titlists to the team title on Saturday in the Brian Hill Tournament at Sammamish High School.
The Class 2A Eagles scored 199.5 points to beat runner-up Skyline’s 187 and third-place Eastlake’s 184 – a pair of 4A schools.
Kennedy was fourth at 143 and Shorecrest fifth at 138.5.
The titlists for Lindbergh were Colton Maddy (126), TreVonn Russell (195) and James Garcia (285).
Eastside Catholic junior Matthew Iwicki, last year’s 3A state champion at 120 as a sophomore, took home the 138-pound title on Saturday.
… Graham-Kapowsin secured the team crown at Saturday’s Bonney Lake Classic, thanks in part to three individual champions.
The Eagles put up a winning total of 161 points to outduel host Bonney Lake, which finished with 149 points and second place. Kentridge took third with 135.5 points and Mountlake Terrace was fourth with 107.
Graham Kapowsin got titles from Kaleb Ogburn (126), Corde Ferriera (138) and Jared Schroeder (152).
Kentridge secured a pair of individual titles with Nathan Hobbs (106) and Daniel Vi (285).
… Mount Baker earned three individual titles and that led to the team title in Saturday’s sixth annual Woolley Women’s Wrestling Tournament at Sedro-Woolley High School.
The Mountaineers put up 160 points and Puyallup was second with 107. Mount Vernon was third at 99 and Burlington fourth at 90.
Puyallup’s Jordan Bartelson won the 124-pound crown, pinning Yuliya Dzhumaniyazov of Kelso in 5:01 in the final.
Preseason team & individual rankings
All Classifications page
Preseason All-Class individual rankings
High school page for Washington Wrestling Report
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and to the attention of Matt Massey.