In this edition of “Weighing In,” we’ll look at Bellevue’s Christian Villani putting himself in position to win three state titles in a row, but it could it could’ve been four in a row. Plus, there are links to Mat Classic XXVI results.
Villani wins second state title in row, puts himself in position for rare three-peat
Christian Villani prefers to look forward, not backward.
The Bellevue High School junior doesn’t allow himself to indulge too much in what-ifs. He prefers reality, living in the here and now.
But if Villani had made weight at regionals as a freshman, the conversation about Wolverines’ star could be that of four-time state champion at next year’s Mat Classic XXVII state wrestling tournament.
Instead, as a senior, the hype will be all about three-time state champion status. But what-if?
“I’ve come a long a way,” said Villani, who won his second individual state crown in row on Saturday night at 145 pounds in Class 3A in dominating fashion at Mat Classic XXVI in the Tacoma Dome. “There’s a lot of woulda, shoulda, couldas. People come up to me talking about their match, and it could’ve been this and it could’ve been that.
“If I did make weight [as freshman] at regionals, I mean I coulda, shoulda, woulda won state.”
Not making weight – and not being able to wrestle – at regionals as a freshman was the start of Villani’s maturity and it has carried over to his professional approach on the mat.
“I look at that experience as more of a learning experience that’s pushed me through, honestly, my whole rest of my life after that and had me wanting it more,” he said. “It’s about wanting it more. I’m really glad I didn’t go past regionals [as a freshman]. It made me go so much harder this year and last year.
“It’s kind of the nail in my head, to just remember that I don’t want that to happen. I hate not knowing what would’ve happened [as a freshman], but I can’t do anything about it now.”
Villani posted a 17-0 technical fall over Peninsula junior Zach Goddard in the 145 final to follow up his 132-pound title as a sophomore despite a hyperextended left elbow at regionals as a sophomore. He went 28-1 this season during an injury-plagued junior campaign, following a 33-3 sophomore season.
But he won’t be joining the state’s elite club of 11 male wrestlers who have won four state titles in a row, because of his freshman weight mishap at regionals. However, that shouldn’t diminish the type of dominant wrestler Villani’s become and the resolve he’s shown to do it.
He can still join the elite three-time champions club, which includes 74 wrestlers heading into next season.
Villani wrestled most of the postseason with a micro-fracture near the L5 portion of his spine. That injury contributed to him starting the season about a month and half late and enduring significant pain when he did wrestle.
“It started in the summer, and I never got it fully healthy to star the year,” Villani said, who indicated he just needs to rest his back now rather than have surgery.
Villani sat out the 145-pound final – taking an injury default and settling for the No. 2 seed — at the Class 3A Region 3 tournament and that lower seed likely made his first day at state a little tougher. He reached the semifinals with a tough 6-5 decision over Bonney Lake senior Caid Caveness in the quarterfinals despite some of his most lackluster wrestling of the season and significant back pain.
“I knew my cardio, because of my back, wasn’t going to be great this season, so I focused on technique more,” Villani said. “My back was hurting from that quarterfinal match, and it was hurting a lot. After that, I just told myself, ‘I’ve got just six rounds left, and I have to wrestle my all.’
“I just knew how hard I worked on everything all year. I’ll feel it tonight [after Saturday’s final].”
What-if Villani weren’t as tough as he was to get through to state? Then, the conversation might have been about one-and-done for state titles.
“When I hit the second round, the adrenaline starts kicking in, and I don’t really feel my back as much as I would going into [a match],” Villani said. “I’m better after I get warm. There was a bunch of times where I thought my season could be over, because of the injury.
“When I got through regionals, there was no turning back. I didn’t want to have that mindset there. I just didn’t want to think about it. If I wrestled in the finals of regionals, I likely wouldn’t be here [at state]. My back was just terrible then.”
And that’s just how most of Villani’s opponents feel after six minutes on the mat the Wolverines’ star.
Christensen caps 182-pound repeat and unbeaten senior season
Ryan Christensen, a Woodinville High School senior bound for the University of Wisconsin, repeated as state champion at 182 pounds in Class 4A on Saturday at Mat Classic XXVI in the Tacoma Dome.
Christensen finished the season 37-0 and ended a remarkable 121-2 career. He only had one in-state loss in three years on the Falcon’s varsity and that was in the 160-pound final as a sophomore.
Mat Classic XXVI results
Friday, Feb. 21 & Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014
www.washingtonwrestlingreport.net High School 2013-14 Page
Regionals results (Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014) & Mat Classic XXVI bracket (Friday, Feb. 21 & Saturday, Feb. 22) links
Mat Classic XXVI story links for The Seattle Times
Day 1 – Friday, Feb. 21, 2014
Day 2 – Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014
State and regional link (breakdown by classifications, regions)
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.