With its wrestlers competing in almost every weight category — a rarity for this point in the season — South Whidbey put the moves on the competition in Klahowya Saturday to place third in an eight-team tournament.
The meet gave Falcon senior Brandon Hern his 25th, 26th, and 27th consecutive victories of the season and the team every right to believe it might be standing as a group on the podium at the state meet next month.
Also winning for the team was Chris Long, who took three matches in rapid succession — including a first-period pin in the final — to make tournament champion at 145 pounds. At 119 pounds, Conley White was second overall, as was Andy Wills, who had his best tournament finish of the year at 160 pounds. Phil Schorr, who has become one of the team’s best athletes during the past month, also had success, making runner-up at 103 pounds.
But it was again Hern who was the headliner for South Whidbey, though not for all the reasons his coach wanted. Undefeated at 189 pounds and ranked first in the state in the 2A division, Hern cruised through his first two matches of the day before meeting Vashon High School’s Evan Mattingly in the final. Mattingly, who has been ranked second in statewide 2A coaches polls most of the season, proved to be no challenge for Hern early in the match, just as he was in a meeting between the two wrestlers earlier this season.
But starting in the second round, Hern had trouble breathing due to a lingering chest infection. Falcon Coach Mike Crebbin said Mattingly took advantage of the situation and worked to close the point gap Hern made in the first round.
“It was not the Brandon everyone is used to seeing,” Crebbin said. “He got really tired.”
Hern used stalling moves in much of the final period and escaped from the bout with a 13-6 win.
Other point getters for the team were Jason Mannie, Eric Flister, Nick Martinovic and Justin Admiral. Missing from the lineup was 215-pound senior Chris Martin, who is out due to a cyst in his shoulder.
Next up for the Falcons are the North Cascades Conference Championships on Feb. 1 and 2 in Blaine.