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South Whidbey wrestlers win season finale, ready for regionals
The Falcon grapplers are rolling and shooting at just the right time. South Whidbey’s wrestling team won its second and third consecutive dual meets on Tuesday against Darrington and host-school Bellevue Christian.
“We went to this thing to see a little bit more about 1A, to see how we compete against them,” said Falcon head coach Jim Thompson. “No matter what happens in districts, we’ve got a winning season.”
In the first meet, South Whidbey beat Darrington, 41-31. The Falcons were anchored by their veterans and higher weights. Senior Steve Sutton won the 145-pound match in a technical fall.
“Steven Sutton looked really good in his match,” Thompson said.
“He looked good on his feet, he looked good down, he looked good up. I think it was the best he’s wrestled all year.”
Four fellow Falcons won with a pin, including senior Cameron Schille (138), sophomore Kyrell Broyles (152), sophomore Calvin Shimada (170) and senior Avery Buechner (195). The Falcons’ coach was impressed with novice wrestler Shimada’s victory.
“Any time a first-year wrestler can win is really nice,” Thompson said. “Calvin pinning that kid was really nice.”
South Whidbey had to bump up a few wrestlers, and one of those was sophomore Jose Chavez. He has wrestled most dual meets at the 285-pound heavyweight, and Tuesday had an outcome to Chavez’s recent matches — a close victory.
“He’s giving away a lot of weight. I appreciate him going up and wrestling tough,” Thompson said. “He’s quick. He just needs to get a little bit stronger, and next year he can come back and be 220 or 195.”
The Falcons also took their lumps. Freshman Josh McElhinny (113) and senior Jerimiah Robey were pinned, and senior Montana Johnson lost by a major decision. South Whidbey also forfeited two weights, 126 and 132.
Against the host school, South Whidbey took a similar route to victory. The Falcons were led by their upper weights and upperclassmen.
Thompson rearranged his grapplers from 138 pounds and up. Sophomore Andy Madsen (138) lost in overtime.
Madsen had a chance to win, but Thompson said fatigue took over and cost him the match.
“He let the other kid win it at the end,” Thompson said. “He likes this thing called a ‘country boy’; it’s a fancy arm bar.”
“He ended up giving the kid a reverse that ended up costing him the match.”
Schille (145) lost a major decision. Sutton (152) and Broyles (160) pinned their Bellevue Christian foes. Shimada (170) lost a 9-7 decision.
Johnson sat out the second meet. He has nursed injured ribs the past week.
“I popped some ribs out so I need to heal a little bit,” Johnson said Monday.
Buechner pinned his opponent in the 220-pound match.
Wrestling at a higher weight and winning was important for Buechner, Thompson said, because it marked a turnaround from nearly missing the season with a shoulder injury.
“He had really dropped out because of his shoulder and came back,” Thompson said. “I’m just happy to have him back on the team.”
South Whidbey won four matches by forfeit, including the heavyweight (Chavez), 195 (Robey), 113 (McElhinny) and 106. Smith, a first-year Falcon wrestler and freshman, never saw competition during the double dual meet.
“The poor guy,” Thompson continued, “there’s not a lot of 106s in our whole district.”
The Falcons only lost four matches to the Vikings, and Thompson said one loss was within reach. Falcon freshman Will Holbert lost 6-4 in overtime.
“He couldn’t get out, the kid rode him for a whole period,” Thompson said. “He gave up a takedown in overtime.”
“He needs to learn to not be so stiff.”
There was also a junior varsity meet. South Whidbey’s JV team scored five pins against one decision.
“I’m really proud of these kids and happy with this young of a team and not having a lot of regional kids and injuries and everything,” Thompson said.
South Whidbey spent the rest of the week slimming down to prepare for the sub-regional tournament at Cedarcrest High School on Saturday.
“We need to work on a lot of live wrestling. We haven’t gone to tournaments the last two weekends,” Johnson said.
Thompson said he was pleased that Schille had whittled down to potentially qualify for the 132-pound division.
“The road to state goes through 132,” Thompson said.
There is only one ranked 2A wrestler in the Northwest District (Cascade and Northwest conferences) that wrestled at 132 pounds this season. That leaves plenty of room for Schille to qualify as one of the top four sub-regional, or top two regional wrestlers.
Shedding the extra pounds was not easy.
“He doesn’t really like to lose weight,” Thompson said. “It kind of came off naturally for him, though.”
South Whidbey’s coach is also looking to Smith, his smallest wrestler, for a chance to qualify for the regional meet at Bellingham and the state tournament. Thompson said the lightweight matches can be difficult to predict in the playoffs.
“You never can tell at 106, just because there’s not a lot of kids at that weight class,” he said. “It would be absolutely nuts if he made state.”