State Champs!

Yelm wrestlers finish at the top of the podium at Mat Classic XXXV


The championship aspirations of two Yelm wrestlers came true when Madisyn Erickson, 120 pounds, and Jonah Smith, 285, ascended the top of the podium at Mat Classic XXXV this past weekend. Both went a perfect 4-0 at the Tacoma Dome en route to becoming titleholders. 

Erickson, a senior, secured her second consecutive 3A/4A 120-pound state championship, while Smith, a sophomore, secured his first 3A 285 pound title. 

The two state champion Tornados have known each other since they were children and grew up in the Yelm wrestling community together. They each said it was a special moment to be crowned state champion with one another in the Tacoma Dome. 

“Jonah is like a brother to me. I have known him since he was about 6 years old. He is an amazing wrestler and an even better human being, a hard worker and is very determined,” Erickson said. “I’m glad I was able to have the memory of taking first with him, and I am excited to see what he’s gonna do in these next two years of his wrestling career.”

Smith had similar praise for Erickson.

“I love Maddie. She’s my best friend’s sister, and I’ve known her since I was 6 years old. It’s a great feeling to win a state championship with her,” Smith said. “Sharing that title with her means a lot to me. She had such a great run these last two seasons, and she finished her Tornado career as champ.” 

Madisyn Erickson

Erickson, who won the WIAA 3A/4A Girls 120-pound state championship in 2023, had a goal all season long to successfully defend her crown. Not only did she win the WIAA 3A/4A Girls 120-pound state championship in 2024, she sported an undefeated record of 47-0 throughout the entire season. She defeated Auburn’s Mary Rush to clinch her title after a 10-5 decision victory. 

During her back-to-back seasons as the WIAA 3A/4A Girls 120-pound state champion, Erickson posted a dominant record of 92-3. 

“I’m very excited to finish my career as a back-to-back champion. A lot of pressure is off my chest now after accomplishing the goal that I wanted,” Erickson said minutes after her championship victory. “It was not easy, but when you put your mind to it, you can get it done.” 

Erickson’s undefeated senior season was one of the most dominant in Yelm wrestling history. It continued at Mat Classic XXXV and included a pin in 19 seconds against Monroe’s Audrey George, a second pin in 3:54 against Mount Vernon’s Parker Halgren, a third pin in 1:13 against Raenah Smith of Mead in the semifinals, and the decision victory over Rush in the championship.  

“It feels amazing to finish my season undefeated. It’s such an accomplishment ending my career this way,” Erickson said. “I hope everyone that has goals knows that you can achieve them. You just have to put your effort into it and trust the Lord.” 

Erickson said the work she put in en route to her state championship victories included a lot of drills, live wrestling and running during and outside of practice. 

“A lot of the work is really all mental, too,” Erickson said. “Once you get past the mental aspect and just put your faith in God, you’ll be all good.”

Jonah Smith

Smith opened his Mat Classic XXXV journey with a 5-0 decision victory over Vincent Saldana of Lincoln (Tacoma) before adding a 12-1 victory over Dominic Echeverria of Hermiston, Oregon. In the semifinals, Smith defeated Bradley Amsden with a 5-4 decision to advance to the state championship. The sophomore defeated Ferndale’s Wyatt Strait, 9-2, in decision, to officially take home the WIAA 3A 285-pound state championship. 

With his victory over Strait in the championship round, Smith officially became a multi-sport state champion, his first coming in football his freshman year. He concluded his sophomore wrestling season with a record of 26-3.

“It means a lot to win as a sophomore. I’ve been working for it for as long as I can remember,” Smith said. “I was 4 years old when I started wrestling. I watched my older siblings Jeremy and Carly go through the program. By watching them do it, I wanted to get out here and win one myself.”

Smith’s victory on Saturday, Feb. 17, marked head coach Gaylord Strand’s 20th individual state champion at Yelm and his first heavyweight to stand atop the podium. The sophomore’s decision win also set the scene as a storybook ending to Strand’s illustrious 50-year career. 

“It feels so amazing to get coach Strand one more. It’s one of the best feelings in the world,” Smith added. “I love that man, and I’m going to miss him. We’re all going to miss him.” 

In the semifinals against Amsden, Smith trailed in points entering period three. Through determination, Smith took the lead in the final minute of the matchup and ultimately secured a decision victory. 

“I just had to want it. Heart comes into play, and I had to want it real bad,” Smith said. “I’m not done yet. I’m coming back for two more.” 

Smith will have the opportunity to compete for a 4A WIAA 285-pound state championship in 2025 with the Yelm Tornados officially reclassifying and joining the South Puget Sound League. 

“The job isn’t finished. Once we move up, we have to keep winning. The streak has to keep going. Even though Strand won’t be our coach, we can’t lose any duals,” Smith said. “You just have to want it. You gotta want it real bad. You have to put the work in during practice, put the work in during the offseason. You need the heart for it.”