Thomas taken down twice at Mat Classic XXI

<I>KEVIN?HEIMBIGNER/Chinook Observer</I><BR>Ilwaco's Ikaika Thomas wrestles in his first round match, a loss to Jake Bartlett of Royal.

TACOMA DOME - Ikaika Thomas fought hard, but was pinned in the second round of his two bouts at Mat Classic XXI in the Tacoma Dome Friday. He was defeated by Jake Bartlett of Royal in 2:49 and by Alex Barnes of Orting in 2:57 in 1A competition in the 285-pound classification.

Rudy Alvarez (103 pounds) and Terry Elliott (160 pounds) finished fifth in the regionals and were alternates to state. They did not get an opportunity to wrestle as the top four finishers were all able to compete in the Mat Classic, even though they went through the weigh-in process and did everything required, except actually be in a bout.

Thomas said, "I was disappointed I lost, but I know I did my best. I tried to treat the state meet as just another match - not get too nervous, too high or too low. This was a great experience to actually be down on the mats. It was phenomenal, something I will always remember. It was exciting to make it to state my senior year." Thomas had to go through rehab for an ankle injury all last summer and didn't think he would even be able to compete in athletics.

He was a starting lineman for the Fishermen football team due to his hard work in rehabilitation and then qualified for the Mat Classic and finished with a 17-18 record as a wrestler. "I want to thank Mr. (Kevin) McNulty for the way he really helped me. He's a great coach," the humble Thomas said. In the fall he plans on going to Sacramento to attend Universal Technical Institute and become an auto mechanic.

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