Wrestlers grab hold in Battle

Lacking a single meet during the first month of their season, the South Whidbey High School wrestling team went into the Blaine Battle at the Border invitational Friday a little out of practice.

Having last wrestled in earnest at last spring’s state meet, the Falcons started their season with the tournament that often determines who is good enough to wrestle at the state meet and who is not. So, it’s usually not the pick for the first meet of the season among most coaches.

“If you place in this tournament, you’re going to place at state,” said Falcon coach Wes Helseth this week. “It’s a trial by fire.”

Forced into the fire by scheduling and meet cancellations, the Falcons nonetheless showed where they will be at season’s end. Placing high in the 24-team meet — which is run on the same 32-wrestler pool format as the state Mat Classic — were seniors Ben Harris, Phil Schorr and Conley White, and junior Tyler Rueth. Harris, who placed second in the 2003 state tournament, took second in the Battle at the Border, losing the 172-pound championship match when he got taken down in overtime by Brian Horaski of Enumclaw.

Generally satisfied with his and his team’s performance at the meet, Harris said that if the Falcons had competed prior to Friday and Saturday, their placings would have been higher across the board.

“It’s just a lack of mat time,” he said.

White, who was a third-place finisher at 135 pounds, said his finish was better than he had hoped.

“I feel good that I placed the firs time,” he said.

Schorr was also a third-place finisher, winning his final match against Tommy Nguyen of Heritage 7-5 after losing a tight match in the semifinals. Rueth took sixth place, losing his last match saturday 8-7 to Brandon Weide of Mount Baker.

Helseth noted that most teams at the meet had two or three outings prior to last weekend, which placed the 11 varsity wrestlers he took to the tournament at a disadvantage.

Also finding success over the weekend was the Falcon junior varsity team. Wrestling at an invitational in Snohomish, freshman Ben Morgan made champion at 119 pounds, as did junior Kyle Calkins at 160 pounds. Junior Austin Hayworth was second at 215, freshman Matt Long third at 140, senior Keith Ryder third at 152 and freshman Jeff Carmichael fourth at 112.

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