Returning to the Tacoma Dome was South Whidbey’s goal all season.
The Falcon wrestlers’ aim began last year after they missed out on the state 2A tournament. And this squad’s seniors were determined to make that a reality. On the broad shoulders of Pat Monell, South Whidbey made its way back to the Mat Classic. Monell finished in sixth place among 1A wrestlers in the 220-pound division.
Fellow Falcon senior Jake Leonard (170 pounds) helped the team finish 3-2 against Cascade Conference teams, one of its best finishes in the past three years. Along the way, South Whidbey dropped power programs like Granite Falls and Cedarcrest.
Here, the two four-year Falcon wrestlers reflect on their final season and the future of wrestling.
Which match this season stands out to you and why?
Monell: I don’t have a standout match. I look at it as a standout season.
Leonard: I think the Granite Falls was the hardest match and it stands out the most because of the guy I was wrestling was a whole lot heavier than me and also I was the last match to win for the team.
Who was your most difficult opponent?
Monell: My most difficult opponent was Matt Voss, the 4A state champion, in a 5-0 decision loss.
What kept you in wrestling, through all the weight plans and injuries?
Monell: What kept me wrestling was the fact that it was my senior year and for the love of the sport.
Leonard: What kept me in wrestling is just all the fun I have had and it was my last year and I won’t ever have the same experience as I do now in the future.
What was the most memorable moment with the coaches?
Monell: My most memorable moment has to be the state tournament with the coaches and all of the overnight trips we had.
Leonard: The most memorable moments with coaches are all the talks and yelling and the care we have all received and enjoyed through all these years.
With the recent decision that the Olympics will ditch wrestling, why will wrestling endure or fade?
Monell: I think that wrestling will endure even though they took the sport out of the Olympics. I say this due to the fact that the numbers of wrestling seem to be rising in both men’s and women’s wrestling.
Leonard: Even with the Olympics dropping wrestling, we all know as players that it is one of the hardest sports, and I think they will bring it back soon enough.
Describe your Falcon wrestling career in four words:
Monell: My career in four words is: I loved every minute!
Leonard: In my career the way I can explain wrestling is it’s tough; and the support and love we all received, it’s a one-of-a-kind experience no matter what people say. I have done other sports and nothing even compares to the difficulty I have had.