North Clark County welcomed home two state champions following the Mat Classic at the Tacoma Dome in February.
Faith Tarrant, from Prairie High School, earned her second state championship win at the state tournament as a sophomore, while senior Malachi Wallway, of La Center High School, earned the honor of the top wrestler in the 120-pound division in the 1A classification.
‘I’m kinda shocked and happy at the same time’
Tarrant ended her season with 36 wins and zero losses. She secured 29 of those wins by pins, while the remaining wins were through forfeits.
Tarrant, who is a sophomore at Prairie High School, now has the crown of being a two-time state champion. She wrestles in the girls 235-pound division and won the state title this year with a pin against Everett freshman, Mia Cienega.
Tarrant said wrestling is a great sport for girls to get into.
“It’s not only about wrestling. Getting to know the girls and community being around wrestling is amazing with body positivity,” Tarrant said. “Like your weight doesn’t matter, especially if you’re me, (because) I’m bigger. … So like for girls my size to know that it’s OK, we’re accepting of everybody.”
The 2023 Mat Classic tournament featured two separate girls brackets this year as the 4A/3A class and the 2A/1A/2B/1B were separate.
“Washington is pretty much leading the way in girls wrestling,” Prairie wrestling coach Rob Smith said. “We had two 20-girl brackets at the state tournament, which is unheard of. There’s only one 20-wrestler male bracket and that’s in the 3A (class). The rest of them are all 16 to 12 (wrestler brackets). That tells you how much the sport is growing for girls. It’s amazing to watch and I’ve been around since day one when girls started wrestling by competing against guys.”
Tarrant’s best moment during that final match was when she looked up to see her mom, Nicole, in the stands and her wrestling partner’s face. Tarrant gave a big shout out to her wrestling partner, Aaliyah Young. Tarrant said Young pushed her to compete at her best. The two-time state champion is also thankful for all that her mom, Nicole Tarrant, has done for her.
“When everyone keeps asking the same question, ‘how are you so unstoppable,’ I’m just like, ‘I’m just having fun,’’ Tarrant said.
Smith said Tarrant listens and implements the coaching she receives.
“She’s just aware of where she’s at and aware of her wrestling style,” Smith said.
On Thursday, March 2, Tarrant was recognized as one of the Athletes of the Week for week 24 by the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association.
“I feel super-duper excited that I’m getting noticed by the state,” Tarrant said. “I’m kinda shocked and happy at the same time.”
Tarrant plans on wrestling in college after she graduates from high school with the class of 2025.
‘It’s been my goal my whole life’
Wallway, of La Center High School, accomplished the feat of becoming the 1A class 120-pound state champion at this year’s Mat Classic during his senior campaign.
“When it happened there was a lot of emotion to it,” Wallway said. “It’s been my goal my whole life. (It’s) 16 to 17 years in the making right there, so my favorite moment was when I got that pin and I realized, ‘I just won a state title.’ I just achieved my life goal.”
Wallway secured sixth place at state his freshman year while wrestling for Prairie High School. During his sophomore year, the state tournament wasn’t held because of the pandemic. Then in his junior year, Wallway earned a third place finish with La Center. He is now able to cap off his high school wrestling journey with the title of state champion.
“I knew Cooper Williams (a freshman with Castle Rock) was going to be a tough wrestler, and you know, Malachi was our first finalist out of the two we had and that’s tied in school history and that’s really impressive,” La Center wrestling coach Jake Johnson said.
The finals match between Wallway and Williams ended with a regulation score of zero to zero. For someone that doesn’t fully understand wrestling, a zero-all score could sound boring, Johnson said, but the coach noted the match was ultra competitive as the grapplers battled throughout the three, two-minute rounds. Overtime ended with Wallway locking up the win by pin.
“(Wallway) not only secured history for himself being the state champ here but also the fourth place team finish is the highest ever (by La Center). That helped us actually beat Castle Rock as a team as well and getting that fourth place as a team at state,” Johnson said.
La Center’s wrestling coach finished his first season with the highest-ever team finish at the state tournament. Johnson believes the emotion-filled state title will help the younger wrestlers who come up through the program as the students feed off the energy that Wallway provided to the Wildcats’ program.
“It means a lot. I know that I’m doing something right in my community and I know I’m doing something right here at school,” Wallway said. “It means a lot to me as my overall goal in my life is I want to impact my community, I want to impact people around me, I want to motivate them, inspire them and change people’s lives.”
Wallway plans to study something in the medical field in college. Colleges in Iowa and Pennsylvania have tried to recruit him, he said.