South Whidbey's wrestlers wasted little time finding their fight and setting a tone for the season at a tournament in Seattle on Friday.
Four Falcons won their weight classes and five others placed in the top three at Chief Sealth High School in West Seattle.
“It's been a long time since we had five guys in the finals,” said Falcon head coach Jim Thompson. “I don't know if I've ever had five guys in the finals before.”
Loaded with seniors, South Whidbey finished in third place in team points behind Darrington and Ballard, a 4A school in Seattle. But the Falcons weren't far behind, and trailed Ballard by only 10 points.
The difference could have been made up by an automatic first-place win. Freshman Seth Schille was bumped down a weight class to the 113-pound division, Thompson said, because the mat experience was more important than an uncontested victory. Instead, Schille placed third in a lower weight in his first high school tournament.
South Whidbey rolled in the middle and upper weights, winning the 152, 160, 182 and 195 classes. Andy Madsen, a senior, claimed the 152 with three pins. Senior Kyrell Broyles pinned three opponents to win the 160.
“Kyrell, in the finals, had the best match I've ever seen him wrestle,” Thompson said.
Then came the big boys, and the Falcons rose to the occasion. Jose Chavez, wrestling at 182 pounds, won first place with three pins. In the 195, senior Beck Davis followed suit with three pins as well.
“For the first time in a long time, I had some wrestlers out there that wrestled with chips on their shoulders, with some meanness,” Thompson said. "When those two guys go on the mat, there's a meanness that I hope gets passed on to the rest of these kids."
For Chavez, who was nicknamed “Giggles” because of his lighthearted attitude on the football team, it was a tone-setting match.
Davis, in only his second season of wrestling for the Falcons, showed off his raw strength in the tournament. It was enough to impress his coach at a meet filled with well-executed matches.
“I wouldn't want to be out there with him,” Thompson said.
In the heavyweight bout, junior Pierce Jackson placed third. Tyler Russell, a senior, placed third in the 138. Donnie Sutton lost in the 145-pound first-place match. Jonathon Peterson, a junior, placed fourth in the 152. Senior James Itaya placed third in the 160.
The tournament exposed South Whidbey to one team it will likely see more of in the postseason — Bellevue Christian — which placed fourth in the tournament team standings. South Whidbey will travel to Bellevue Christian next Saturday for the Iron Sharpens Iron tournament featuring other regional 1A schools like Friday Harbor and Nooksack Valley.
South Whidbey’s wrestling program may change its schedule, announced earlier in the season. The Falcon athletic department is seeking a final home match in late January or early February to replace the loss of the planned senior night match against Archbishop Murphy. That match was scrapped because Archbishop Murphy did not field a wrestling squad.
If an opponent is not found, the Falcons’ senior night would be at its final home meet, currently scheduled Thursday, Jan. 16 against Granite Falls.