Sports

Wrestlers aim for state podium

Nick Martinovic and Todd Noste get technique instruction from Falcon’s assistant coach Wes Helseth, right, during a preseason workout. - Matt Johnson
Nick Martinovic and Todd Noste get technique instruction from Falcon’s assistant coach Wes Helseth, right, during a preseason workout.
— image credit: Matt Johnson

Even though they will be on the mats wrestling in daily practices and in meets about twice a week through the middle of February, most of the 2001-02 season doesn't mean much to the boys on the the Falcon wrestling team.

The only victories that mean anything this year are those they earn at this year's region meet and beyond.

"Our motto this year is that it's all pre-season until Feb. 9," said Mike Crebbin, the team's head coach.

With one state champion -- senior Brandon Hern -- back for another season and a half-dozen other wrestlers possessing the talent to qualify for this year's state Mat Classic, 30-member South Whidbey wrestling may be approaching a pinnacle of talent this season. Though they return without state wrestler Bruce Hymas, who graduated last spring, or big-point performers Chris Hezel, Luke Smith, Sean Rumberger, and Kelly Foote, this year's team could be the best in more than a decade.

Crebbin said his team is strong in the lighter and middle weight divisions, and with Hern wrestling at 171 pounds and 2001 district qualifier Chris Martin at 189, the light heavyweight divisions could be a lock.

"We're looking good throughout," Crebbin said.

On the lighter end of the scale, sophomore 103-pounder Phil Schorr will compete for a varsity spot with freshman featherweight Tyler Reuth. At 112 pounds, Conley White will be the team's choice. Veteran middle weights Chris Long and Ben Harris are their coach's early-season picks as Falcons who could find their way to state.

The only thing preventing the team from being dominant in the mids from the beginning of the season until the end is a wrist injury 145-pounder Andy Wills suffered during football. Crebbin said he hopes to have the former state competitor back on the mat within a few weeks.

Even though their sites are set on the last two meets of the season, the Falcons nonetheless have arranged for tests by fire in the remainder of their schedule. After winning two tournaments last year, the team received invitations to bigger, tougher tournaments this year. Crebbin said he does not expect his team to win big meets at Connell or Bainbridge, but is certain his guys will know how to wrestle against the best by February. If the team makes it through uninjured, Crebbin said they have a good chance to win the region meet.

But the winning attitude starts in practice, not at meets. By concentrating on visualization, injury prevention and other techniques on a daily basis, Crebbin said his wrestlers will be smarter and stronger than most.

"I think they pay more attention to this than a class."

Senior captain Chris Martin said he believes the season will bring a new dimension to the team. He said Crebbin's daily workout plans are tailored to make them great end-of-the-match wrestlers.

"He wants us to learn to wrestle when we're tired," he said.

The team starts competing Saturday at a jamboree in Ferndale. The Falcons' first home match is Dec. 6.

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