Nothing will be left on the mat

POULSBO — It’s down to the last matches of the season, and Anthony Lindfors won’t be holding anything back. Lindfors and fellow senior Matt Cordell are representing the North Kitsap Vikings in the 4A Washington State Mat Classic XX Championships in the Tacoma Dome today.

The event started yesterday in double-elimination style matches. The results of those matches weren’t available at press time.

On Wednesday afternoon, the two were enthusiastic and optimistic about heading off to the state tournament. Placing in the top eight at state earns a wrestler a spot on the wall of fame — a huge wall hanging perched high on the wall where the wrestlers practice every day. That’s what both are aiming for.

“Every extra workout, all the hard work, it’s all starting to come together. This Friday and Saturday are the only days that count,” Lindfors said. Wrestling has been the center of his high school career. In the off-season, he trained. During the season, he trained more diligently. He and senior Jeff Jones, an state alternate, combined a rigorous exercise program around wrestling workouts. They ran, strength trained and dabbled in mixed martial arts.

Lindfors managed to maintain his 160-pound frame while still staying within the perimeters of the state’s strict weight program. Come Sunday, win or lose, there will be a strange gap in his life. But he’s ready for it.

“It’s going to be weird. In the past seasons, you still had to train to get ready for the next season,” he said.

Because he has no plans to continue his wrestling career in college, Lindfors considers this weekend’s state tournament his last stand on the mat. His game plan is simple.

“I hope to exceed some people’s expectations,” he said. “It’s my last day of wrestling. I plan to leave everything on the mat.”

For the 145-pound Cordell, a trip to the state tournament is the perfect ending to a high school wrestling career.

“It’s my first time ever going to state. It’s a dream and prayer come true,” Cordell said. “I’m wrestling some pretty good guys. I’m going to give it all I’ve got. I’m going to go out. My goal is to make it on the (wall of fame) board.”

The bid for state is a sweet one for Cordell, who has battled various injuries in previous seasons, including shoulder and ankle sprains. He’s battled through the pain to stick with the sport he’s loved since he was 5.

Cordell’s father recently retired from the Navy. From the fifth through 10th grade, Cordell attended four different schools. When he landed at Poulsbo Junior High, his moving days were over. Through all the change, wrestling was the constant in his life.

“Wrestling changed my life,” he said. “It built me up mentally, physically and socially. It gave me some self-confidence.”

This year wasn’t without its close calls. In the second practice, he almost tore a ligament in his knee. An MRI and a lot of deep-breathing later, he was cleared for the season.

This is where the dedication starts to pay off, he said. For that, he is thankful.

Head coach Jon Cooke is excited for the two seniors in the tournament, but wishes alternates Jones and Paul Coulter could have made it in, also.

“Our league (the Narrows League) didn’t do well at all against the South Puget Sound League,” Cooke said. “It’s not that they didn’t wrestle up to their potential. They did. It’s just a tough region. I’m happy with how they wrestled, but I’m sad that all my seniors didn’t make it in.”

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