#Green4GoldWashington's Fletcher Green wins 113-pound state title
When Washington 113-pounder Fletcher Green told his friends at the beginning of the wrestling season that he had a goal to win a state championship, many of them thought he was kidding around.
But now it’s no joke. Green is a state champion.
He defeated second-ranked Zach Less of West Delaware 8-3 in the state championship match on Saturday night inside Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines to claim the Class 2A state title.
“That was my goal at the beginning of the year,” Green said. “I told my coaches and my buddies. I don’t know if they thought I was joking or whatever, but that’s been the goal for a long time.”
But Green, a three-time state qualifier, hadn’t even finished among the top eight to receive a medal in his first two trips to state. And he hadn’t even won a district championship this year, having to win a wrestleback match to get to the state tournament. Still, the fourth-ranked Green knew he was one of the best wrestlers in the state.
“I just knew that I was as good as anybody there, so I just kept my composure,” he said.
Green lost to fifth-ranked Brendan Gould in overtime in the semifinals of the Class 2A district meet in West Liberty on Feb. 9, putting his back against the wall. Since then all he’s done is won six straight matches and a state championship.
“He kind of peaked at the right time,” Washington head coach Brent Van Weelden said. “I would say maybe his state tournament started at districts. He had a couple of close matches there and beat a couple of kids who were ranked and then took that momentum into the state tournament.”
Green won a 7-0 decision over Humboldt senior Kylie Zender in the first round of the state tournament on Thursday, and then won an 11-5 decision over 10th-ranked Colton Milosevich of Woodward-Granger in the quarterfinals.
As Green progressed through the tournament, the pressure should have been building as he got closer to winning a state championship, but he actually became more relaxed.
“I honestly felt more nervous for my first match than I was for any other match,” he said. “My first two matches, I felt like there was pressure. For some reason, after I won my quarterfinal match, the pressure just seemed to go away. I felt like I wrestled better when there wasn’t as much pressure, I guess.”
After Green won a 6-1 decision over Creston freshman Chase Lienhard on Friday night to qualify for Saturday’s state championship match, there was an outpouring of support for Green on Twitter, complete with #Green4Gold hashtags.
“There was a lot of support, and that means a lot,” he said.
In the state championship match, Green took down Less early in the first period for an early 2-0 lead.
“That was the main focus, to get to the legs from our feet because with him, if you don’t attack, he’s going to be on his attack, and he’s very strong,” Green said. “He’s very good when he’s attacking, so I just wanted to stay on the attack.”
Green did keep attacking. He got two takedowns in the first period and led 4-1 after the first two minutes. Less got an escape in the second period, but Green took him down again for a 6-2 lead. And in the third period, Green got a reversal but gave up a stalling point for an 8-3 lead.
Green held Less down on the mat as the the final seconds ticked off the clock, and an incredible feeling washed over the Demon wrestler.
“It was just unbelievable,” Green said. “A lot of happiness. A lot of work paid off. It just feels really good.”
As the time wound down, Van Weelden and his assistant coach, Derick Ball, tried to restrain themselves on the sideline.
“I think I looked at the clock with 23 seconds left and we were up by five, and I thought, ‘Well, we’re all right as long as he doesn’t get reversed to his back,’” Van Weelden said. “And then with about 12 or 10 seconds left, I think I slapped Coach Ball on the leg and I was pretty sure we had it. It was probably the longest 10 seconds of my life.”
When the match ended, Green popped up off the mat and flexed his biceps. Then he, Van Weelden and Ball all hugged.
Green was pretty dominant in his state matches, out-scoring his four opponents 32-9.
“I don’t think he got taken down,” Van Weelden said. “I think he got the first takedown and scored the first points in every match, so that was pretty important for confidence to go out and take the guy down. From there, he just kept building leads and buidling leads.”
Green is the second state champion Van Weelden has coached in his career, as he had a state champion when he coached at Savannah High School in Missouri. But Green is Van Weelden’s first state champion in his seven seasons as Washington’s head coach.
Green, who finished his junior season with a record of 36-5, is Washington’s first state champion since 1997, when Bobby Gonshorowski won the second of back-to-back state titles. Green is also the sixth state champion in school history.
“It hasn’t even sunk in yet,” Green said. “It still doesn’t seem like it’s real. It still doesn’t seem like I’ve accomplished it.”
Winning a state championship was something Green has longed for and worked for since he was a youngster. It was his dream and his goal. Now it’s no joke. And his goal for next season isn’t one, either.
“To do it again,” he said without hesitation.