There is a special kind of hurt that comes when the goal is so close, so tantalizing near it’s almost impossible to not imagine or even assume.
There is a special kind of hope, too, when the possibility is still that, unknown but within reach.
But only one can stand atop the podium. One two can vie for that right. Everyone else is forced to settle, the initial hope turned to dust in an instant.
It varies, though.
Woodland senior Josiah Sanders went home in fourth place at 120 pounds in the 2A bracket, his disappointment clear next to the elation and pride of Miah Zuniga of Toppenish, the champion.
Josiah didn’t practice in the week leading up to Mat Classic XXXII, as he was dealing with a sprained ankle.
His younger brother, the junior Judeah, felt similarly. He was sixth at 113. After reaching the semifinals, he lost three straight times, the achievement covered too heavily by the dust of his hope.
It is not meaningless, however. It is not failure, even as it lingers as such.
The two brothers earned medals at the Mat Classic at the same time. They’re coached by their dad, Jason, and both received medals. It was Josiah’s third medal and Judeah’s second. It was Josiah’s best finish, Judeah did no better than last year.
But for the pair who grew up wrestling together, against each other, for each other, it was a meaningful accomplishment. Even gold covered in dust can shine.
“It makes me pretty happy,” Josiah Sanders said. “It’s all those years that paid off. It wasn’t gold, but it’s something. I’m happy.”
“It’s pretty meaningful,” Judeah Sanders added. “We’ve wrestled with each other our entire lives. It’s pretty special.”
But as the Sanders brothers lamented, others reveled.
Christopher Lake was one.
The Ilwaco sophomore made a Cinderella run, entering the tournament unranked at 138 pounds in the B bracket, reaching the semifinals seemingly effortlessly.
But he met eventual state champ Colin Silverthorn in the final four, then ran up against third-ranked Carlos Norris in the consolation semifinal.
He recovered to earn fifth, and was not disappointed in the least.
“I think it’s satisfying to get fifth place in the state,” Lake said. “I know that (I’m) top five and next just doing better in everything. And just knowing that there are only four guys better than me in the state.”
Lake’s run showed the other side of the state tournament.
So often it’s the defeats that are remembered. They always come too early and mostly come bitterly. But Lake’s run was a surprise. He was only one of two Fishermen to reach the championship semifinals — heavyweight Michael Rodda did the same — but Lake’s run was a surprise, even to him.
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“I was not expecting to get in the semis,” Lake said. “I thought I would lose one in the consolations. But, it happened, so I deserved to be there.”
MAT CLASSIC XXXII
Derick Soto (Kelso);2nd;132
Shale Webb (Kelso);5th;170
Pavel Kolsky (Kelso);4th;195
Judeah Sanders (Woodand);6th;113
Josiah Sanders (Woodland);4th;120
Ian Campbell (Kalama);2nd;138
Abe Foreman (Kalama);2nd;160
Seth Hoseney (Kalama);6th;285
Malaichi Taylor (Ilwaco);6th;113
Tristan Walker (Ilwaco);6th;120
Christopher Lake (Ilwaco);5th;138
Keegan Kemmer (Ilwaco);5th;145
Michael Rodda (Ilwaco);4th;285