By David Pan/Lynnwood Today editor
Meadowdale’s Ciaran Ball got just what he wanted before the state tournament: A tough match that went the distance.
After recording a pair of pins to advance to the 195-pound finals, Ball faced off against Hanford’s Will Bishop and had to work hard to pull out a 4-2 victory Saturday at the 3A Region IV tournament at Glacier Peak High School.
Both Ball and teammate Tim Smith, who finished third in the 220 division, advanced to next week’s Class 3A state tournament in the Tacoma Dome.
“I love having a three-round match before state,” Ball said. “It helps with my cardio … There’s going to be three-round matches at state obviously. You’re going to have to be at the top of your game.”
Ball felt he wasn’t his usual self in the finals.
“I wasn’t getting my shots,” he said. “So that’s the No. 1 thing I need to work on this week. I think I was kind of flat footed almost. He was wrestling well.”
Last year Ball watched as Morgan Smith, Tim’s older brother, won a state title. Ball, who finished fourth at last year’s state meet, knows what it is going to take to win a championship.
“You win state titles with shots,” Ball said. “Morgan Smith won state because he had amazing shots. That’s what I’m trying to replicate.”
Ball is glad that Smith also will be going to state and having him around to train next week is going to be of benefit to both wrestlers.
“It’s good that we’re both going to state,” Ball said. “It’ll be awesome practicing next week, working with another person going to state.”
Smith weighs about 20 pounds more than Ball and is a lot stronger but he also is very fast.
“There are going to be people like Tim I’m going to be wrestling,” Ball said. “I have to be prepared for that.”
Smith was a state alternate last year and is happy that he’ll be down on the mats this time.
“It feels really good,” Smith said. “Last year I was a sophomore and I went to state as an alternate. I just went to the show but didn’t compete. I’m proud of the work I did in the offseason. Now I’m here taking third at regionals.”
Smith recorded a second-round pin over Southridge’s Marus Surita in the third-fourth place match.
“I kept on my toes the whole entire match,” Smith said. “I just caught him and I capitalized on the mistake.”
Smith also appreciates working with ball throughout the season.
“He’s a great partner,” Smith said. “He’s well-seasoned and just technically sound. He’s always helping me out on moves, pinpointing what I need to work on.”
Meadowdale’s Colton Davis took fifth place at 160 and is a state alternate.
Mat Classic XXVI will be Feb. 21-22 at the Tacoma Dome.
— Story and photos by David Pan/Lynnwood Today editor