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Baker bad, tourneys better for wrestlers
If anyone needed to settle down for a long winter's nap on Christmas Eve, it was the wrestlers at South Whidbey High School.
Over the course of seven days, the Falcon boys hit tournaments in Blaine and Mount Vernon and, between the two, took on the state's best team, Mount Baker, in a home dual meet.
At Blaine's Battle of the Border on Dec. 13 and 14, the Falcons struggled for top individual placings in a tough, multi-division field of 16 teams. Junior Ben Harris gave the team its best representation, winning the tournament in the 160-pound class. After winning three previous bouts, Harris beat Jake Grajewski from 4A Kentwood High School 9-5 in the final, and established himself early in the season as one of the best wrestlers in the state in his weight division.
"It was a big win for Ben," said Falcon coach Wes Helselth.
Other top placers for the team included junior 103 pounder Phil Schorr with a fourth-place finish, Chris Long's fifth-place performance at 145, and a sixth-place result for 112-pound sophomore Tyler Rueth.
The Falcons' team placing was unavailable at press time.
Mount Baker tough in dual meet
A few days later, on Dec. 19, the Falcons found even stiffer competition at home. After Blaine forfeited one-third of a three-way meet at Erikson Gymnasium due to a team-wide skin infection, the Falcons faced off against last year's North Cascades Conference champ Mount Baker. Starting the meet at 119 pounds, the Falcons watched as Justin Serrill earned himself a 10-4 lead early in his bout before Mountaineer Alan Moore came back in the third period with a throw, a couple of takedowns and a near fall to win 14-11.
South Whidbey wouldn't see anything close to a win until midway through the meet when senior Chris Long met up with Baker's Craig Jackson. Both state participants last year, the two wrestlers were well matched. Long struck first, taking his opponent down in the first period, but lost his 2-0 advantage when Jackson scored a reverse. In the second period, Long made an escape from a Jackson hold, putting up a third and winning point.
Sean Noste kept the thrill of victory alive by beating Baker's Josh Little 7-5 at 151 pounds. At 160, Ben Harris tried, bout wound up on the wrong end of a 3-2 bout after getting put to his back by B.J. Varvre in the third period.
The only other winner in the Falcons' 56-12 team lost to the Mountaineers was Jason Gilberts. Facing Jason Klein at 189 pounds, Gilberts fell far behind on points in the first two periods before pinning Klein in the third.
Another tourney brings out best
Two South Whidbey wrestlers made division champions and a third was a runner-up at last Saturday's Mount Vernon Tournament.
Phil Schorr won at 103 pounds, taking Sunnyside's Jessie Romero in a 9-6 final, and Ben Harris took his second tournament win in a week with a 16-5 major decision over Mount Vernon's Nathan Jackson.
In a third championship bout, 125-pound junior Conley White was pinned by Mount Vernon's Matt Curry.
Overall, said Falcon coach Helseth, the tournament was the best South Whidbey team performance of the season. Ten wrestlers -- Schorr, Harris, White, Long, Serrill, Jason Mannie, Nick Martinovic, Sean Noste, Todd Noste and Jason Gilberts -- used fast footwork to stay ahead of their opponents.
Helseth said his boys need to be ready by the end of the holiday break to hit the meat of their regular-season schedule.
"It's do or die time," he said.
The Falcons wrestle next on Jan. 4 in a tournament at Nooksack Valley High School.