Coming off a slugfest Thursday in the Cascade Conference finale, South Whidbey was ready for a change-of-pace tournament Saturday in Tacoma.
South Whidbey’s wrestlers did not accumulate a team score at the Spec. Joseph T. Caron Memorial All-Comers Tournament at Washington High School. The Falcons’ lack of team points wasn’t because they wrestled poorly, it was the tournament’s format as a round-robin match. Groupings of four wrestlers from different schools competed against each other, then other groups.
“Everybody wrestled pretty well,” said Falcon head coach Jim Thompson.
“It was just kind of a tuneup.”
Thompson’s and the Falcons’ eyes were looking ahead. Come Friday, Feb. 1, South Whidbey will begin its push for the Tacoma Dome, where the state wrestling tournament is held.
Not quite finished with regular season wrestling, South Whidbey tended to its opponents at the Caron Memorial tournament. Most of South Whidbey’s wrestlers finished with two victories, but none finished at the top of their weight classes.
“I thought it was a very tough varsity tournament,” Thompson said.
Of South Whidbey’s traveling team, Thompson highlighted steady varsity grapplers Kyrell Broyles, Andy Madsen and Beck Davis, all juniors. Davis, a first-year Falcon wrestler, lost only one match, which could have been a victory but for a “rookie” mistake. Thompson recalled how Davis tried to tilt, got out of position, pulled his opponent on top of himself and was pinned.
It was a similar story for Madsen, one of the Cascade Conference’s top 138-pound wrestlers. Madsen reversed his opponent and put him in the country boy move in an attempt for a pin, but Madsen was too high and lost his base, got turned and was pinned.
“He was on his way to winning that match,” Thompson said.
The Falcons’ greatest struggle wasn’t on the mats. South Whidbey has battled illness in its ranks, as well as unannounced absences of varsity wrestlers. Three upperclassmen did not make the trip and did not notify Thompson they would miss it, he said.
“What a time to get hit with this,” said Thompson of the illnesses sweeping through his team.
But having players vanish from the program this late in the season was harder for him to accept.
“It’s really upsetting because we put ourselves out there, three-quarters of the team shows up, and then five don’t,” Thompson said.
Injuries also took their toll, especially concerning given how close South Whidbey is to the 1A sub-regional tournament. Falcon junior Calvin Shimada, who has wrestled up much of the year at 195 pounds, missed the tournament with a strained neck after being thrown Thursday.
Pat Monell, a senior in the 220, forfeit his remaining matches after injuring his left shoulder during his first match Saturday.
South Whidbey travels to Squalicum High School on Friday for the sub-regional tournament. The top four wrestlers in each weight advance to the regional tournament. Thompson said he would take 126-pound Steven Lutsock, 138-pound junior Jake Baesler and 152-pound Elijah Matthew, all junior varsity wrestlers, to the sub-regional tournament.
“I like Jake’s spunk, I like the way he wrestles,” Thompson said. “He’s a battler.”