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Squalicum’s Bella Phillips captures lone Whatcom state title at Mat Classic XXXV

Pair of locals lose title matches; 12 total grapplers return home with hardware

Squalicum senior Bella Phillips raises their arm after winning the girls 1B/2B/1A/2A 190-pound state championship Saturday, Feb. 17, during Mat Classic XXXV at the Tacoma Dome. (Andy Bronson/Cascadia Daily News)
By Connor J. Benintendi Sports Editor

TACOMA — Squalicum’s Bella Phillips won the girls 1B/2B/1A/2A 190-pound state championship at the Mat Classic XXXV on Saturday, Feb. 17 at the Tacoma Dome.

Phillips led a trio of Whatcom County finalists as the only state champion to emerge from the three. Mount Baker’s Daniel Washburn and Ferndale’s Wyatt Strait also reached championship matches but lost.

The victory was a long time coming for Phillips, who finished third in 2022 and second last season — now completing a perfect 35-0 season with a title. Phillips completed their high school career with a 105-12 overall record.

Gallery: Day 2 at Mat Classic XXXV

“It feels really good — finally,” Phillips said. “I got third place, I got second place, now I’m first and it’s really exciting.”

Phillips’ previous finishes were in Class 3A, prior to Bellingham United splitting up into three individual programs. Phillips now becomes the first Squalicum girls wrestling state champion in program history, in just its first year.

Even with the shift down, Othello’s Elia Velazquez gave Phillips a fight in the title match as the only bout Phillips did not pin their opponent.

“She was hard to turn,” Phillips said of Velazquez. “She was definitely hard to turn. I’m glad I got some shots in, but she’s tough. Her hips are so strong.”

Mount Baker’s Daniel Washburn attempts to take Cashmere’s Hugh Wheeler to the mat in his 8-4 loss in the 1A 157-pound championship match. (Andy Bronson/Cascadia Daily News)

Washburn lost to Cashmere’s Hugh Wheeler in the 1A boys 157-pound championship via an 8-4 decision, earning his second career runner-up finish while improving on his third-place medal last season. He finished his season 47-3 overall.

“I just felt really tired in that last match,” a visibly exhausted Washburn said. “It happens.”

In the semifinals, Washburn earned a controversial win over Riverside’s Peter DesRoches, as DesRoches’ nose wouldn’t stop bleeding. He ran out of blood time despite the medical staff putting a full wrap around the middle of his face. Riverside’s coaches pleaded, but DesRoches had likely already been allowed more than the five-minute limit, awarding Washburn the win.

Ferndale’s Wyatt Strait tries to take down Yelm’s Jonah Smith in the 3A/4A 185-pound state title match. Strait lost 9-2. (Andy Bronson/Cascadia Daily News)

Strait (39-7) fell to Yelm’s Jonah Smith in the 3A 285-pound bout after a 9-2 decision in Smith’s favor. The Golden Eagles junior earned three wins at state to get there — claiming his first state medal in his first-ever appearance.

Semifinals, consolation early rounds and non-championship medal rounds

Mount Baker entered day two with the most grapplers still competing, and four of the Mountaineers’ five athletes that emerged left with medals.

Tyla Olson captured the top medal by a Mountaineer not named Washburn, finishing fourth in the girls 1B/2B/1A/2A 140-pound weight class. Olson suffered a tough loss in her first bout of the tournament but won out from there, pinning all three of her day two opponents.

Mount Baker’s Tyla Olson celebrates winning fourth place by hugging coach Clyde Blockley. (Andy Bronson/Cascadia Daily News)

Andrew Montieth (126 pounds) and Wyatt Freeman (165 pounds) both finished sixth in their respective weight classes among Class 1A boys. Each won their consolation quarterfinal matches before losing their final two, and both earned their first state medals.

After finishing fourth last year, Vance Lawrence did not place in the 1A boys 175-pound weight class. He was pinned and eliminated in 40 seconds by Montesano’s Gabriel Pyhala in the consolation quarterfinals after reaching day two.

Blaine’s three wrestlers that reached day two all nabbed medals. 

Leading the group was Victor Gervol, who finished third in the 1A boys 285-pound weight class — one spot below his second-place finish a year ago. Gervol reached the semifinals but was bounced into consolation by Omak’s Noah Morago-Bigboy after a 7-4 decision. 

Blaine’s Lucyanna Dahl lifts her opponent for a takedown. (Andy Bronson/Cascadia Daily News)

He won his final two matches, including a 12-0 major decision in the consolation semifinals.

Cal Fitzgerald finished fourth for the Blaine boys in the 144-pound weight class. Fitzgerald won both of his consolation matches before losing to Omak’s Jesse Garcia in 4:01 via technical fall in the third/fourth place bout.

The Borderites’ medalists were capped by Lucyanna Dahl, who finished fifth in the 145-pound girls bracket. Dahl was pinned by Toppenish’s Makayla Torres in the semifinals in just 46 seconds, and she lost her next match as well — moving into the fourth/fifth-place match.

Dahl bounced back from the consecutive losses to beat Kiona Benton’s Jenna Baugh via pin in 3:28.

Lynden, Meridian and Nooksack Valley all had one medalist, led by Lynden’s Belen Lopez. Despite suffering her first loss of the season in the semifinals, Lopez captured third in the girls 155-pound bracket — one place below her second overall finish last season — to finish her season 32-1 overall.

Meridian’s Rhett Duersch is blinded by his headgear. (Andy Bronson/Cascadia Daily News)

Meridian’s Regan Swope, another semifinalist, was pinned by Royal’s Emma Villa in 54 seconds in the penultimate round of the winner’s bracket. Swope lost her next match as well but rebounded to finish fifth over Rainier’s Kiera Anderson on a 4-2 decision.

Kennedy Farrar (girls 170) and Rhett Duersch (1A boys 215) each reached consolation quarterfinal matches, but they were eliminated and did not place.

NV’s Wyatt Bacon reached the 1A boys 190-pound semifinals, but he lost to Columbia’s Sawyer Muehlbauer. Bacon lost his consolation semifinal, as well, before edging Newport’s Ares Swain in the fifth/sixth place bout via a 6-5 decision.

A full list of Whatcom County medalists is below.

Mount Baker

6th Place – Andrew Montieth, 1A 126

2nd place- Daniel Washburn, 1A 157

6th Place – Wyatt Freeman, 1A 165

4th Place – Tyla Olson, 1B/2B/1A/2A girls, 140


4th Place – Cal Fitzgerald, 1A 144

3rd Place – Victor Gervol, 1A 185

5th Place – Lucyanna Dahl, 1B/2B/1A/2A girls, 140


2nd place – Wyatt Strait, 3A 285


3rd Place – Belen Lopez, 1B/2B/1A/2A girls, 155


5th Place – Regan Swope, 1B/2B/1A/2A girls, 170

Nooksack Valley

5th Place – Wyatt Bacon, 1A 190


1st place – Bella Phillips, 1B/2B/1A/2A girls, 190

Connor J. Benintendi is CDN’s sports editor; reach him at; 360-922-3090 ext. 104.

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