After losing in the finals twice, Ridgefield’s Dylan Draper fulfilled his dream of becoming a Clark County wrestling champion Saturday at Battle Ground High School.
Draper and Prairie’s Jason Wilcox were tied 1-1 in the third round of the 132-pound title match. As time ticked down, Draper countered an attack by Wilcox, picked him up from behind and slammed him on the mat in the final seconds of the match to win 3-1.
“I’ll remember how bad I wanted this championship and all the time I put in,” Draper said. “The medal is a symbol of the memory, but the memory never goes away. You always remember.”
Ridgefield freshman Bracen Nash made a strong impression in his first county tournament by winning the 106 bracket. He beat Israel Gonzalez of Heritage 6-2 in the championship match.
“It feels really good just to see all my hard work pay off,” Nash said. “Ever since I started wrestling, I dreamed of being out on that mat at Clark County. It was everything I dreamed of and more.”
Nick Langer, Ben Matson, Brayden Sofianos and Wilcox wrestled in the finals for Prairie and led the Falcons to second place in the team standings with 201.5 points. Union won the team trophy with 248 points.
“I think our team has been doing really well,” Langer said. “We’re improving. Trying new things in the room. We have a bunch of new coaches. And it shows. Everyone is really putting in the hard work.”
Langer pinned Washougal’s Korben Modoc to become the 182 champion. Matson, Sofianos and Wilcox finished in second place.
“I broke him in the second round. Just drove him and stuck him,” Langer said. “Can’t wait to get that gold medal and give it to my dad.”
La Center senior Lexi Kysar pinned her opponent from Mountain View in seconds to become the 190 champion. Jamie Osato also wrestled in the finals for La Center and took second place.
“Winning is one of the greatest feelings in wrestling,” Kysar said. “You use so much heart and muscle. And when you get your hand raised, you feel really accomplished.”
Kysar had high hopes during her junior season, but an elbow injury derailed her chances just before the postseason. She’s never wrestled at the state tournament before, but now she has the confidence. She cannot dream of a better place to end her high school career than the Tacoma Dome.
“I just want to experience that,” Kysar said. “It’s my senior year. Last opportunity. It’s all or nothing.”
Anything seems possible after winning Clark County, which is why this tournament is highlight of a season filled with blood, sweat and tears.
“These are the guys you see at the fair, you see them around town or at tournaments and practices throughout the year,” Draper said. “It’s cool winning it all in front of the guys you know already.”