LANGLEY — For a match that meant nothing, South Whidbey wrestled like it was a championship.
Facing defeat or victory, 195-pound junior Calvin Shimada secured a pin and the Falcons’ win.
“That was maybe one of the most exciting matches I’ve been associated with,” said Falcon head coach Jim Thompson
“They’re down a little, but they’re still formidable. That’s still Cedarcrest, the bully of our conference the last seven years.”
Beating Cedarcrest was a special moment for Thompson. In his entire decade-plus coaching career at the high school, South Whidbey never defeated Cedarcrest. After an 0-2 start against Cascade Conference opponents, the Falcons have surged to 2-2 with the win over the Red Wolves — even if it would not officially count because a referee never arrived.
“Even when I had my really good teams, it was close, but usually the other way around,” Thompson said, referring to South Whidbey’s 42-39 victory.
Shimada’s bout became the marquee match. Trailing Cedarcrest 39-24 with 12 guaranteed points coming in the final two weight classes, South Whidbey needed Shimada to pin his opponent. And as he stepped on the mat, he knew it.
“I’ve been looking at that for a very long time before my match,” Shimada said.
“It just added more pressure, more drive to win.”
Through the first period, Shimada and Red Wolf Elliot Dick were locked in a scoreless match. Each tried to shoot for the other’s legs, but ended up standing tall, circling the mat. Finally, Shimada struck a two-point takedown and a three-point near fall at the first period buzzer.
Dick elected to start the second period in the neutral position and scored a two-point takedown. Shimada fought his way out from under Dick for a one-point escape, then rolled Dick onto his back but couldn’t secure his shoulders to the mat. South Whidbey’s home crowd erupted into a deafening roar. Through the din, yells of “Snap at the head,” and “Half” were heard on the mat — just not by Shimada.
“It was all silent, I couldn’t hear anything,” he said.
In the third period, with victory two minutes away, Shimada chose to start down, a conservative approach. But Shimada overpowered Dick to escape, then countered a shot and pinned him in 4:38.
“I don’t know what to think right now, that was a tough match,” Shimada said.
“He would shoot, and I would cross face him off and turn him over. Then it was just a cheap throw.”
Loaded with 2A ranked wrestlers in the lower and middle weights, Cedarcrest rolled early in the match Thursday night. Weight after weight, the Red Wolves pinned the Falcons — except for one.
An unlikely hero, Falcon sophomore Josh McElhinny upset Red Wolf Skyler Martinez in the 126-pound bout. McElhinny and Martinez were locked arm-in-arm, head-to-head trying to force the other down to the mat. Martinez struck first as McElhinny tried to stand and rolled him over onto his shoulders, legs kicking in the air. But somehow, McElhinny escaped, rolled on top of Martinez and scored the pin in 1:35.
“Honestly, I came out there and didn’t know what to do … I thought he had me pinned there for a second,” McElhinny said.
“He got too high and hung his head, I just sat there. With my headgear off, I could hardly see.”
Kyrell Broyles gave South Whidbey another boost in the 152 against 2A’s eighth-ranked Nick Decker.
Beck Davis supplied another surprise Falcon win at the 182. After two weeks off to rest a back injury, the junior returned and his timing couldn’t be better, especially on the mat.
On South Whidbey’s senior night, its two varsity seniors had the night off. Jake Leonard took a forfeit in the 170 and Pat Monell accepted a forfeit in the 220.
“It was new. I don’t keep track of who wins and who loses, it’s more personal for me, one-on-one,” Leonard said.
Finally, sophomore Pierce Jackson won via forfeit in the heavyweight, securing South Whidbey’s 42-39 team victory against Cedarcrest.
South Whidbey had the weekend off from tournaments ahead of its final Cascade Conference match on the road against Archbishop Murphy. Should South Whidbey win, it would finish no worse than third, and depending on which teams lose, could finish in second place. The Falcons’ final weekend tournament, an all-squad event for beginners, junior varsity and varsity wrestlers, will be at Washington High School in Tacoma on Saturday, Jan. 26.
“Hopefully we keep hammering them and we’ll see what comes up at sub-regional,” Thompson said.