With great tradition, come great expectations – a theme familiar to the wrestlers at Lake Stevens High School.
“Everyone just expects us to do well, and we expect to do well,” senior Michael Soler said.
Six state titles in the last decade and a runner-up finish last year have that effect.
But the opportunity this week doesn’t get any bigger for the Vikings’ Michael Soler, looking to become just the 13th four-time individual state champion in Mat Classic history.
“It’d just be a fun way to finish my high school career," Soler said. "Especially if we get the team title. The team title would be pretty awesome.”
“That’d be huge for him," said senior Jake Douglas. "He’d be the first 4A four-time state champ – that’d be pretty legendary actually.”
Soler won his first state title at 106 pounds and then his sophomore year at 113 pounds. Last year he did it at 132 pounds, which makes this year’s attempt at 170 pounds a daunting task. But his experience at the Tacoma Dome will certainly help.
“Just kind of learn how to compete on the big stage – not to get caught up in all the bright lights and stuff,” Soler said.
“He’s handled it incredibly well," Lake Stevens head coach Brent Barnes said. "He’s very good at compartmentalizing that. And focusing on the good things. The journey. He’s had a smile on his face everyday when he comes here.”
And regardless of the result, the journey – for Soler and his teammates – might ultimately end up being the biggest prize of all.
“This team has been great to see how everyone feeds off each other. We’re all growing as a team together and building each other up. No one’s tearing each other down,” Douglas said.
Added Soler: "The kids on the team are my best friends. No other kids are like them because you go through so much hard stuff together, that you just bond. There’s nothing like it.”