Bremerton wrestlers ready for state

That’s Dustin Heistand over in the corner room, running on a treadmill with an expressionless face.

He stares at the wall in front of him. He doesn’t look up when someone approaches him. He doesn’t have time to mess around.

As he prepared for the Mat Classic State Class 4A tournament beginning Friday in the Tacoma Dome, Heistand, who wrestles in the 140-pound weight class, is more serious than he has ever been in his life.

“This is one of the goals in my life — to reach it to state,” he said. “It’s been many sleepless nights remembering previous matches and thinking about what I can improve on.”

Bremerton’s only other state-bound wrestler, Daniel Smith, spent the first hour of practice on Wednesday last week sitting in the training room at Bremerton High School, icing the ankle he turned in training the previous week.

“I feel strong,” he said. “I feel I’ll do well,” said Smith, who will wrestle in the 152-pound weight class.

In a heartbreaking moment, Smith earned his way to state by knocking out his teammate Buddy Bennett in the semifinals at the regional tournament last week.

“I’m only upset at myself,” Bennett said. “Danny’s pretty good. Danny is what you define as a wrestler.”

Bremerton coach Jeff Barton said Heistand failed to achieve his potential because he didn’t take practices seriously.

Now, Bennett has seen a change in his teammate.

“He pushes himself more,” Bennett said. “During practice he isn’t as goofy as he used to be.

“It seems like he wants it more this year. Dustin is really kicking butt this year.”

In his division, Heistand has a 20-6 record entering the Mat Classic. Smith is 29-6 with 25 pins.

“That’s the most I’ve ever gotten in my whole career,” Smith said.

In the week leading up to their big matches, the boys are training, or at least obsessing about wrestling as much as ever.

“I’m watching a lot of tapes,” Smith said. “I am pretty much dreaming about wrestling.”

When he faced Bennett in the semifinals, he knew it was time to be serious.

“Even though he’s a good friend, I wasn’t going to give up my dream of taking state my senior year. I had to go out there like he was my enemy.”

Both wrestlers compete Friday. Heistand wrestles Drew Beaudoin of East Valley High School (Spokane) at 11:20 a.m. Smith wrestles Ryan Paulson of Riverside High School (Auburn) at 11:30 a.m.

No matter how well the wrestlers perform, Barton said he hopes they have learned to never surrender.

“Wrestling is a microcosm of life,” he said. “There’s going to be those days when someone is going to beat you. You have those moments in life where it just gets the best of you. But don’t give up.”

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