Trio of Falcon freshmen wrestlers star on Senior Night

Wildcat freshman Kenny Ficklin tries to escape and lift 106-pound Falcon freshman Steven Smith on Monday.  - Ben Watanabe / The Record
Wildcat freshman Kenny Ficklin tries to escape and lift 106-pound Falcon freshman Steven Smith on Monday.
— image credit: Ben Watanabe / The Record

LANGLEY — The spotlight was on South Whidbey’s most veteran grapplers on Senior Night. The glory, however, went to the freshmen Monday night.

A trio of Falcon freshmen, all first-year wrestlers, scored enough points in the final lightweight matches to beat Archbishop Murphy 36-33.

It turned out that avoiding a pin was just as important as scoring one for South Whidbey.

“The most impressive win of the night was a loss,” said Falcon head coach Jim Thompson.

“It’s always good to beat Archbishop.”

The final match of the night determined the outcome. Falcon freshman Will Holbert outlasted Wildcat junior Colin Farrell in the 120-pound division.

“Big thanks to Will for not getting pinned,” said Falcon senior Cameron Schille.

South Whidbey led Archbishop Murphy 36-30 in team points. A pin by Farrell would result in a tie; a decision by Farrell would give South Whidbey the victory.

Holbert, a svelte 120 pounds, was quickly on the mat, his face pressed against the Falcon blue cushioning. Farrell tried to wear him down by keeping Holbert’s chest compressed against the ground and spinning him around.

Holbert’s coaches chose for him to start in the neutral position at the start of the second period to get him off the ground.

It didn’t work as they hoped. Farrell scored another quick two-point takedown and rolled Holbert onto his shoulders for an instant before the wiry freshman wiggled out.

With the evening riding on this one match, some senior Falcons said it was hard to watch.

“I was nervous,” said Falcon senior Montana Johnson. “Coach kept walking in front of me and it was like, do I look around him or just hide behind him because I didn’t want to know, but I wanted to know.”

“You almost get as good of a workout sitting on the sidelines. You try to show them the moves. Your voice hurts and your body hurts and you’re trying to show them but you get winded,” Johnson added.

Farrell began the third period down. Holbert tried to keep him there and score a pin or a near fall.

Instead, Farrell stood for one point and two on a takedown. Again, Farrell almost pinned Holbert, but the Falcon managed to slip the Wildcat’s grip and get on his chest to avoid a pin as time expired.

“He kept fighting,” Thompson said.

“It’s really important to fight out of those pins. He fought for six minutes.”

Momentum turned the Falcons’ way three matches earlier.

In the heavyweight bout, Falcon sophomore Jose Chavez (285) pinned Wildcat freshman Noah Hanson in 1:12. That gave South Whidbey its first lead since Johnson’s quick pin (24 seconds) five matches earlier in the 160 class.

“I knew he was a JV wrestler because the kid I was supposed to wrestle bumped up to wrestle 170,” Johnson said of his fast fight. “As soon as I got the underhook, he just went limp.”

After Chavez’s big pin for six points toward the team score, the lightweights hit the mat.

Falcon freshman Steven Smith took three rounds to wear down Wildcat frosh Kenny Ficklin.

The lightest weight began well for Ficklin, who scored the first two points on a takedown. Those were the only points he got, as Smith wore him down by standing, spinning and reversing on Ficklin.

“It felt pretty good to win because I’ve been on a losing streak,” Smith said. “I just kept doing what I practiced.”

“Sooner or later you’re going to tire him out.”

The win was another in a handful of important victories for the first-time Falcon grappler. It also marked a milestone to his coach.

“Steven wrestled solid. I’m really proud of that kid,” Thompson said. “I’m so glad he came out for wrestling.”

“I love having him in the mat room. He’s just a great kid to be around.”

Josh McElhinny, a first-time freshman wrestler, won the 113 class by Archbishop Murphy’s forfeit.

In the earlier matches, Schille pinned Wildcat senior AJ Vidamo (138) in 3:07. Schille was in control early on a takedown and three-point near fall.

“He shot in on me first. I cross-faced and got behind (him),” Schille said.

“I knew I had a good chance of beating him, but I’m always kind of nervous before a match.”

South Whidbey senior Steve Sutton (145) pinned Wildcat sophomore Dan Dzilenski in 3:37.

Falcon sophomore Kyrell Broyles (152) beat Wildcat junior PJ Novack in a 9-7 decision.

“You never know with these lightweights,” Thompson said. “Some of their kids look like they’re first years. You have first years against first years and anything can happen.”

Archbishop Murphy won the 126- and 132-pound bouts by South Whidbey’s forfeit. Wildcat wrestlers claimed pins in the 170, 195 and 220. Both teams forfeited the 182 match.

The victory was the Falcons’ second against Cascade Conference opponents this season. It was also the final league dual meet before sub-regionals at Cedarcrest High School in Duvall on Saturday, Feb. 4. The Wildcats finished their season without a conference win.

Each Cascade Conference school can submit two entries per weight class at the double elimination tournament. It begins at 10 a.m. Admission costs $6 for adults and students without an ASB card, and $4 for children, senior citizens and students with an ASB card.

The bracket will be established after weigh-in Saturday morning.

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