By Dan Trujillo
From the beginning of wrestling season, Tanner Lees vowed this would be his year.
The Washougal High School senior repeated that statement after he won the Clark County, sub-regional and regional tournaments. As Tanner stepped into the Tacoma Dome Saturday, he only had one more title to achieve. State champion.
“I got so close last year. One match away from the finals,” Lees said. “I had to break through that and get to the finals.”
And break through Lees did. He trailed by four points in the semifinals, flipped Clarkston’s Jake Freeman over and pinned him with only seconds to spare.
Lees found himself down again in the championship match. Once again, he used his long arms, strength and grit to pin White River’s Weston Lyver in the last round.
“I got my half and just put it all on the mat, right there,” Lees said. “Even if I’m losing, I know I have it in me to pull it out at the end.”
Tanner Lees is now a state champion, just like his sister Abby. She won state for Washougal in 2017 and 2015.
“I get to be a role model for my siblings and show them what the Lees name is all about,” he said. “Now, it’s just doing whatever I can to help keep the tradition going.”
Scott Lees is the next one up for the Panthers. He reached the Tacoma Dome as an alternate and got to warm up on the mats. Fellow sophomores Cole Pass and Jason Powell wrestled in their first state tournament this weekend and gained valuable experience.
Like Tanner Lees, seniors Andrew Hopple, Jaden Robb and Brooklyn Wurm-Wertz finished off their high school wrestling careers at the Tacoma Dome. Wurm-Wertz brought home a fourth place medal and Robb secured seventh place.
Tanner Lees is not done competing for the Panthers. He’s ready to pole vault into track and field. Does he have another state championship run left in him?
“That’s the goal,” Lees said with a smile.
Twice Saturday, he proved competitors can’t count him out.