FORKS — Forks wrestler Josue Lucas credited a “different mindset” this year for his state championship.
Lucas, a 106-pound sophomore, was the sole state champion out of 32 North Olympic wrestlers who qualified for the boys and girls Mat Classic this year.
It was the second straight year Lucas has placed at the Mat Classic, though he made a giant jump from eighth last year to first this year.
“Last year if I lost, I didn’t wrestle well after,” Lucas said. This year, he said he made a point of it to put it out of his mind if he lost a match.
He didn’t have to do that often. Lucas went 35-4 on the season. He said some of his losses early in the season were because he was trying to wrestle injured when he shouldn’t have been.
Lucas was part of a successful season for Forks. The Spartans finished sixth at state (their placement was dropped from fifth to sixth Monday by the WIAA because the 285-pound weight class hadn’t been included in the final point total). A total of seven Forks wrestlers placed, led by Lucas’ title run.
Lucas is already thinking about the possibility of being a three-time state champion. In the 29-year history of the Mat Classic, there have only been 87 3-time champions, a testament to how difficult it is to win a state title as a sophomore.
Lucas had to work hard at the Mat Classic to get his title. He won four matches, but only got one pin. He won his second match over Jeff Friedman of Lakeside by a score of 8-7 (Friedman ended up third). He won his semifinal with another close 6-4 win over Jeremiah Salcedo of Granger. Even his finals match went the distance, as he beat Johnathan Magana of Connell 8-4.
“I think I just wanted more,” Lucas said of his performance.
Lucas knew going in he was in a tough side of the bracket and if he could just get through some early matches, he would win the state title because the other side seemed weaker.
“I knew if I took my side, I was going to be champion,” he said.
This went totally against Lucas’ performance at regionals, where he got three straight pins to win the meet and qualify for the Mat Classic.
“I like takedowns,” Lucas said.
In addition to his changed mindset, Lucas also credits long-distance running for his success. He runs cross country in the fall and long-distance track for the Spartans in the spring.
“I think I have more stamina than the other guys,” he said.
He said that in order to win any more state championships, he’s fully aware he can’t just rest on his laurels and will have to be more dedicated to wrestling than ever. Other wrestlers will be coming after him harder than ever.
“I think I can do it. I will just have to work harder,” he said.
Sports Editor Pierre LaBossiere can be contacted at 360-417-3525 or [email protected]