Second place is plenty rewarding, especially when it comes with a two-foot tall trophy.
South Whidbey finished in second place at the Chief Sealth wrestling tournament Dec. 29 and boasted the most outstanding wrestler in the lower weights, junior Andy Madsen.
“That’s the biggest trophy I ever won,” said Falcon head coach Jim Thompson. “We really wrestled well.”
Madsen pinned all four opponents. And other than the gold medal he received at a tournament earlier this season for winning the 145-pound division, the trophy is the first he’s received as a Falcon grappler.
“It was really nice to get a trophy,” Madsen said, adding that dropping to 138 during the winter break required sacrifice.
“I missed out on a few things: cookies, desserts.”
But for a single deciding vote, the Falcons could have had both outstanding wrestlers. Pat Monell, a senior in the 220-pound division, missed out on the award despite scoring pins in each of his four matches.
The tournament, as successful as it was for South Whidbey’s coaches and wrestlers, was full of “almosts” and “what ifs.” In the championship match against Lynden, South Whidbey fell 34-24 after forfeiting several weights including two held by seniors. Jake Leonard was ill during the school’s winter break and did not make weight for the 170, and James Itaya forfeit the 160 with an injured shoulder. South Whidbey’s heavyweight, sophomore Pierce Jackson, was not at the tournament. Thus far, South Whidbey has not been represented in the 106 or 113 weights and forfeited those, which added to the deficit against Lynden.
“We would have won if we had James Itaya and our heavyweight,” Thompson said.
In the dual-style tournament, South Whidbey defeated Ballard 51-6, Chief Sealth 48-6 and Bellevue Christian 34-15.
Other notable performances came from South Whidbey junior Jose Chavez, who won three pins and a forfeit; sophomore Steven Smith, two pins and two forfeits in the 120; junior Kyrell Broyles; and sophomore Josh McElhinny in the 132, where he scored a major decision against his Bellevue Christian opponent.
“That was the best I’ve seen him wrestle,” Thompson said.
Part of the mid-season success has been keeping kids engaged. Thompson held practices during much of the school’s winter break to fight weight gain and focus on technique.
“Kids go on vacation, they go with parents out of state,” Thompson said.
“This team’s been much better than showing up than most of the teams I’ve coached.”