Though he may have snuck up on his opponents in 2012-13, that wouldn’t be the case this year. Tingley told Breese before this season started that there was a target placed squarely on his chest, a target that would remain there until the season ended.
“It was much harder this time. I wasn’t a secret to anyone anymore,” Breese said. “Nobody knew who I was last year, so I could surprise them. It wasn’t a surprise to me at the time, but for my opponents, they didn’t know what to expect during the matches.”
This year, opponents had plenty of tape and plenty of ideas on how to beat Breese once the state tournament began, making it clear from that start that the senior would get every opponent’s absolute best on the mat.
“Everyone would try to figure out his weakness and ways to beat him,” Tingley said. “I told Sam before the season that it’s hard to win the title, and it’s harder to defend it. He worked hard, and he was definitely a better wrestler going into the (state) tournament this year.”
In the opening bout of the state tournament, Breese won a 9-5 decision over Everett’s Devin Reed.
The bout ended the same way all the one’s before did ... with a Breese victory. But to the casual observer, the dominant Lakeview senior didn’t dominate his opponent in the opener, raising eyebrows to some, but certainly not Breese or Tingley.
Breese answered any questions from doubters in the quarterfinals with a 10 second pin of Boiling Springs’ Noah Davis, setting up a showdown in the semifinals.
With Breese ranked No. 1 all season long at heavyweight, on his tail was Burrell’s Allan Beattie, the No. 2-ranked wrestler. What seemed like a natural championship bout came a round early with the way the bracket was structured.
It was highly anticipated and highly physical, and in the end Breese proved his dominance with an 8-3 win.
“In the semifinals, I expected that match to be the finals. Either way, I knew I had to beat him regardless of when,” Breese said.
For Tingley, the semifinal bout against Beattie would be the big test. Naturally, Breese passed with flying colors.
“That match was the one I was the most nervous about going into,” Tingley said. “(Beattie) was ranked second and had wrestled well against common opponents. Sam handled the pressure well and took care of business.”
Before the finals began, the PCN Sports telecast stated that Breese looked “vulnerable” during the tournament, and that a repeat championship wasn’t a certainty against Pen Argyl’s Brady Mutton.
Breese is a wrestler who is as gifted mentally on the mat as he is physically, and finds motivation for every bout. Had Breese heard about the television commentary prior to his 3-2 championship victory over Mutton, who knows how big of a win he could have secured.
“I do not agree with that at all,” Breese said when told of the comments. “They were going off of the first match, which was the only one they watched. You can’t expect to have a great match every match. I was never in danger of losing that match. They might say I’m vulnerable, but I call it smart wrestling.”