Light shines on Falcon wrestlers

Senior Keith Ryder, left, menaces Archbishop Murphy’s Zeke Evers during Thursday’s 40-33 win over the Wildcats. - Jeff VanDerford
Senior Keith Ryder, left, menaces Archbishop Murphy’s Zeke Evers during Thursday’s 40-33 win over the Wildcats.
— image credit: Jeff VanDerford

The South Whidbey wrestling team finally performed in front of a home town crowd Thursday against Archbishop Murphy. It would be one of only two chances this season for fans to watch the team get down and rise up on the mat (they welcome Sultan at 7 p.m., Jan. 12 in Erickson Gym.)

The Falcons won the dual meet 40-33 for second place in the Cascade Conference behind Cedarcrest. A team forfeits six points if missing a weight class — both teams were missing two (103 and 112-pounds) so forfeits didn’t affect the score.

Falcon Coach Jim Thompson did all he could to pump up the drama of this high energy, intense sport. A large white spotlight hung from the rafters and hovered directly over the blue mat, while a heavy rock beat boomed out as the Falcons jogged onto the floor for their warm-up routine.

When the gym’s lights are dimmed — fascinating, but a little eerie — fans are in the dark and all eyes focus on the wrestlers bathed in the single bright light on center stage.

The first to step into the light, though, was referee John Casebeer of Lynnwood. Casebeer has been a wrestler, coach (Mountlake Terrace High School) and referee since 1960.

“I watch out for two things; aggressive wrestling and making sure the kids are safe,” he said before the match. “These athletes are always interesting and they keep me young,” he added.

In subsequent action on the mat, Falcon James Schorr (119) won a “major decision” over Wildcat Kyle Miller, meaning he won by more than eight points, adding to the overall team results.

Aaron Mannie (125) pinned Taylor Baehm in the first round, as did freshman Trapper Rawls (275).

Ben Morgen pinned Matt Tochterman with 52 seconds left in the second round. Matt Long (152) downed Matt Darnell with 55 seconds left in the second as well. Darrin Britton (215) overcame Rich Yielding in the second round.

As the action proceeded, shouts of encouragement came from both benches as the two grapplers struggled for the perfect hold within the 28-foot diameter circle, each trying to dominate the other.

“I told the kids all week that though Archbishop Murphy had a younger team, they couldn’t take anything for granted,” Thompson said.

“They will wrestle you hard and they did,” he said.

After Trevor Romero was trounced by Wildcat Jerik Shaw in the first round, he walked back to his coach and muttered, “Whoa.”

Thompson responded, “Welcome to varsity wrestling, Trevor.”

The Falcons have a tournament scheduled for 10 a.m. at Nooksack Saturday, travel to Cedarcrest Jan. 10, then Sultan at home Thursday.

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