Four Falcon grapplers advance to regional round

Sending four of six wrestlers on to the 1A regional wrestling tournament was about as good as it could get for South Whidbey head coach Jim Thompson.

The team struggled with its roster this season, starting with about 10 wrestlers before being whittled down to six due to injuries, eligibility issues and quitting.

“Four guys got through that I expected to get through,” Thompson said Monday.

“They put out the effort,” he added.

Two Falcons secured their spots with second-place finishes, one took third place, and another took the last qualifying spot in fourth place. A pair of South Whidbey wrestlers had to fight their way from early losses in the sub-regional round at Mount Baker High School on Feb. 7.

Madison Evans, a junior in the 160-pound division, placed third out of six wrestlers. Only the top four advanced, and Evans battled back from a 12-4 first-round loss to Nooksack Valley junior Jared Parson. Evans recovered with a pair of pins against Nooksack Valley junior Gabe Foresee in 3:53 and Sultan freshman Tre Sargent in 3:45 to claim the third spot.

Josh McElhinny, a senior, faced a field of eight wrestlers in the 138-pound division. He narrowly edged Sultan junior Nicholas Sorgen 5-4 in the first round before losing to Nooksack Valley sophomore Michael O’Bryan 5-2. McElhinny made quick work dispatching Mount Baker freshman Jonathon Sanchez with a pin in 56 seconds.

Another senior, Will Holbert, placed second in the 126-pound division out of four wrestlers. He won his first match, a close 7-6 scrap against Sultan junior Dalton Miller and was pinned in 1:50 by Sultan senior James Mckenzie in the first-place bout.

“I was real proud of him the way he won that match,” Thompson said of Holbert’s last-second takedown to come from behind and beat Miller.

Hunter Newman settled for second place after losing the championship match to Sultan sophomore Jamell Carroll. The Falcon sophomore beat Sultan sophomore Jakob Weaver 10-1 in the first bout before being pinned in 2:52 by Carroll.

Falcon sophomore Jack Nielson wrestled up a weight class in the 145 and was eliminated after two bouts — a pin by Mount Baker junior Jeremiah Cronk and a 9-7 loss to Nooksack Valley freshman Luke Parson.

Trevor Kleinfelder, a Falcon sophomore in the 152, was eliminated after two losses — a pin by Sultan junior Jacob Ballweber and a pin by Meridian freshman Manuel Sabalza.

South Whidbey heads to Meridian for the 1A Regional tournament Saturday, Feb. 14, from which the top four advance to the state Mat Classic in Tacoma Feb. 20-21.