Pair of Falcon wrestlers place third at season-opening tournament

The veteran lettermen did what they were supposed to in the first wrestling tournament for South Whidbey.

They won.

The four first-time high school Falcon wrestlers surpassed expectations — and lost.

“I think they all did really well,” said Falcon head coach Jim Thompson. “It’s hard to single out anybody because you don’t know what their competition was like.”

Led by seniors Avery Buechner and Montana Johnson, South Whidbey placed 11th at the Cleveland Invitational wrestling tournament in Seattle. Buechner and Johnson finished in third place in the 195- and 182-pound divisions, respectively.

“They were pretty well prepared for going to a varsity tournament with some pretty good teams,” Thompson said.

South Whidbey traveled to the Emerald City for its first tournament of the season with a near-full team. That included first-time varsity wrestler Steve Smith and Donnie Sutton. Smith lost in two matches at 106 pounds, the lightest weight. Sutton (132) pinned Shorecrest’s Josiah Glesener in 2:31, then lost in a pin and a 17-2 decision.

“A lot of kids had their first matches, ever,” Thompson said.

“I was happy with how they wrestled. I didn’t see anyone freaking out, deer in the headlights stuff.”

Andy Madsen (145) lost his first match in a pin. He recovered to pin Evergreen’s Abraham Torres in 2:07 before being eliminated by a pin.

Cameron Schille lost his first match, won his next two and was eliminated for a seventh-place finish in the 145-pound division.

Falcon senior Steve Sutton finished fifth in the 152. He pinned Cleveland’s Jubei Moliga in 1:27, lost an 11-5 decision and recovered to win two more matches on pins. Sutton was eliminated by Port Angeles’ Kody Steele on a pin.

“Whether he won or lost, they were all falls,” Thompson said.

South Whidbey had two weights doubled-up with Falcons: 152 and 195 pounds. Madsen and Schille, and Pat Monell and Buechner were divided in the bracket by Thompson to give them the best chance of advancing.

“One was a scorer, one was a non-scorer,” Thompson said.

Wyatt Schuchman and Kyrell Broyles lost two matches and won one in the 152 and 160, respectively. Broyles wrestled at a higher weight class than normal.

“He was almost up two weight classes,” Thompson said.

Johnson finished third in the 182  after losing his first match, then pinning his next three opponents.

The other two first-time wrestlers were James Itaya (170) and Calvin Shimada (182). Itaya was dropped to the consolation bracket after a 7-2 decision. He won his second match with a pin against Ballard’s Alec Scully before being eliminated in a 16-9 decision. Shimada, a sophomore, was pinned in his first two wrestling matches.

“They didn’t go out there and freeze,” Thompson said. “They actually scored some points.”

Buechner pinned Franklin’s Henry Lin in 3:09 and Spanaway Lake’s Raul Veliz in 1:16. He lost to the eventual 195 champion, Black Hills’ Matt Borden after a pin. In the consolation round, he claimed third place on two decisions, 5-3 and 7-1.

Monell, a junior, wrestled at 195. He won his first match in a 10-5 decision, then lost his next two in close decisions 6-4 and 5-2.

“He seemed like he was a little bit out of it,” Thompson said.

The heavyweights wrestled up from their preferred divisions. Jose Chavez and Jerimiah Robey both entered the 220-pound bracket. Both Falcons lost their first two matches and were eliminated.

“They were both way over their heads, weight-wise,” Thompson said. “By the time the season is over, they could both be in the 170s.”

South Whidbey, a small 2A school, finished higher than 3A and 4A schools such as Rainier Beach, Ballard, Cleveland, Franklin, Shorecrest and Eastside Catholic. Considering the team’s inexperience, Thompson was pleased with the finish.

“I didn’t think this was any different than any other year with a lot of experienced kids,” Thompson said.

South Whidbey travels to the Port Townsend tournament today to compete against mostly 1A schools. The whole Falcon team is going. Their competition includes Omak, Nooksack Valley, Port Townsend, Tenino and Vashon Island. Just because the schools have fewer students, doesn’t mean they will be any less imposing.

“It’s not going to be an easy tournament,” Thompson said.

“If we could just keep improving every week, things will take care of themselves,” Thompson said.

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