Miscommunication causes Falcon wrestlers to miss tournament

South Whidbey’s wrestling team was at the high school parking lot, waiting to be picked up by one of the school district’s buses.

It never showed.

In head coach Jim Thompson’s 10 years as the head coach, it was the first time the Falcons missed a meet because of a clerical error.

“It was just a disappointment because you prepare for that match, you prepare your kids,” Thompson said. “They all get out of bed, and it’s not easy to get some of these 14- and 15-year-olds to show up here at 4:30, 5 in the morning.”

All 24 wrestlers and the three coaches waited from 5 a.m. until about 6:30 before they realized their ride wasn’t going to show. Besides, by then the Falcons would have missed the 7:15 a.m. ferry from Coupeville to Port Townsend, which would have made them miss the 8:30 weigh-in.

“At that point, nothing could’ve been done,” Thompson said.

Turns out, the Falcons had a ride waiting, just not where they had hoped to find it. Less than one mile away on Maxwelton Road, vans were waiting to be driven from the district’s transportation and maintenance hub.

Originally, the transportation department received a request for three eight-passenger vans to be used by the wrestling team on Saturday, Dec. 10.

“They had requested vans and we had two vans ready to go,” said Kevin Lungren, the school district’s transportation supervisor. “Apparently they made a change and that didn’t get communicated to us.”

The week of the meet, Thompson changed the order for a bus and sent it to the athletic office at the high school. He needed the bus because he wanted to take the entire wrestling team to the tournament, not just the varsity wrestlers.

South Whidbey athletic director Scott Mauk took the blame for stranding the squad.

“There were vans ready for pick-up when a bus was expected to show up in the morning,” Mauk said. “I take full responsibility.”

The tournament registration fees, estimated at $150, were likely to be refunded. Thompson called the Port Townsend tournament organizers and told them his team would not be there.

“They said, ‘Hey, sorry. Your guys are more than welcome back next year,’” Thompson said.

Mauk said he apologized as soon as he learned of the botched road trip.

Mauk, who is in his first year as the school’s athletic director and assistant principal, said he’ll double check in the future to make sure the proper paperwork is sent to the transportation office.

“After I figured out what went wrong, I apologized and am trying to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” Mauk said.

Thompson said the missed tournament will hurt the younger athletes more than the team’s seasoned wrestlers. Eight of the Falcons are first-time wrestlers this season, and the schedule is limited to eight tournaments and five Cascade Conference dual meets.

“This was a tournament where the varsity kids weren’t going to suffer the loss that much,” Thompson said. “But some of these younger kids, you took something away from them.”

South Whidbey returns to the wrestling mat after school resumes in January.

The Falcons’ next match is on the road against Lakewood on Friday, Jan. 6. On short rest, the wrestlers will wake up early to travel to Cedar Park Christian for a dual-meet tournament.

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