LANGLEY — Winter sports at South Whidbey High School bolstered their ranks this year.
Though the school shrank in enrollment, six more students will suit up for the Falcon girls basketball, boys basketball and wrestling teams this season.
“I’m thinking it’s a lot,” said Scott Mauk, who is in his second year as the Falcon athletic director.
“It takes years of coaching to build a program. I have great head coaches and fabulous assistants.”
Boys basketball will roll with three teams — varsity, junior varsity and C-Team — after making extensive cuts. Wrestling, which has long grappled with being a small school and missing some of the light weights, looks ready to field the 113-pound and 120-pound division with a large group of freshmen and sophomores (wrestlers who haven’t gone through coach Jim Thompson’s weight training regimen).
South Whidbey was projected to lose about 60 students from last year’s enrollment. Still, comparative figures from October 2011 to this year show an increase of 10 students from ninth to 12th grade, excluding South Whidbey Academy students. Male students moved between wrestling and basketball, and Mauk reported some athletes turned out for winter sports for the first time or after sitting out last year.
“Kids talk and they will vote with their feet,” Mauk said. “Sports are not mandatory. They won’t show up if they hear bad things about a coach.”
Falcon boys basketball saw the largest growth, though only three more players. Given Falcon coaches can only play five at a time, minutes may be hard to come by across each team.
Wrestling saw a two-athlete increase, which Mauk said may grow to 30 grapplers total.
Girls basketball increased by one Falcon this year. Falcon girls basketball head coach Andy Davis said he would keep nine Falcons on varsity to start, then bring a couple girls up from JV as the season — and the players — progressed.
The girls team finished 8-12 overall and was eliminated from the district tournament in the first round. Falcon wrestling missed out on the state 2A tournament for the second time in the past three years after a long stretch of sending at least one grappler to the Tacoma Dome. South Whidbey’s boys basketball team finished 7-13 overall, including only four Cascade Conference wins and missing qualification for playoffs.
“Kids are wanting to play because they’re being led by good people,” Mauk said. “It’s not a win-loss thing.
“The teams were competitive, but the kids are going to the program because they want to have fun.”