LANGLEY — They are quiet, but not shy. Reserved, but not timid.
South Whidbey High School wrestling teammates Aaron Mannie and James Schorr are the first to say there is no room for the timid or the shy on a wrestling mat.
And because of new rules changes, there’s been precious little room for both grapplers competing together at any given meet.
Mannie and Schorr each weigh 152 pounds. In past years one could move up or down to a different weight slot but no more.
The new rules are designed to keep wrestlers healthy and prevent short- and long-term physical problems that can result from rapid weight fluctuations and unsafe weight-loss practices.
“The hope is that the rules will also put more focus on learning the skills of the sport and less on the tradition of cutting weight,” Falcon coach Jim Thompson explained.
For Mannie and Schorr, the end result is a challenge match each Monday at practice to see who can represent the team that week.
After four years as Falcons, both are now seniors and co-captains (with Darrin Brittain and Brett Warwick); the new system has been tough on each of them.
“No, it isn’t the best deal, but it actually makes us better because we have to wrestle harder before we take on guys from other schools,” Schorr said.
“The intensity is picking up for us, going to a higher level,” he added.
While both are even at 10 wins and one loss for the year, no one knows how the boys would have fared without the weight penalty problem.
In wrestling, there’s a team goal — league, division and regional championships — and the individual goal of qualifying for the Mat Classic state finals Feb. 15 in Tacoma. Both boys went last year and are determined to return.
“We’ve wrestled as partners now for seven years,” Mannie said.
In the fall, Schorr was a Falcon cross country runner; Mannie will play in the outfield for the baseball team this spring.
Both like wrestling the best.
Away from the gym, they’ve been good friends.
Mannie was raised on Whidbey Island and entered the public school system in the eighth grade after being home schooled. Mannie’s father Todd owns AP Mechanicals, which may have influenced him in his favorite subject in school — math.
He said his teachers have been very good overall.
“I’ve had some good teachers — and some who were so-so — but I’ve had a decent education here,” he said.
His favorite instructor is math teacher David Nelson, who has had a positive effect on him. “I just like the way he teaches.”
Mannie plans to go to a high-tech automotive repair school after graduation, particularly one that focuses on American cars.
“I like Fords and Chevys because of their horsepower,” he said.
Schorr was born in Long Beach, Calif. but moved here with his parents at age 7. His father Pat is pastor at the Calvary Chapel in Clinton.
Like his friend, Schorr has something of a geometric view of the world. He likes computers, programming and videography and hopes to go to a technical school with an eye to a career in video game design.
“My favorite teachers include Tom Donnelly and Jeff Greene,” Schorr said. “They really know their subjects and are willing to give us a chance to explore on our own. Within certain parameters, of course.”
While Mannie favors country music, Schorr likes techno-pop. “Makes me feel good,” Schorr said with a grin.
Mannie’s favorite flicks include the comedies “Superbad” and “Super Troopers,” while Schorr veers toward action films using computer-generated imagery like “300” and “Gladiator.”
As wrestlers, they follow a fairly healthy diet but each has his guilty pleasure: Mannie loves mashed potatoes and gravy while Schorr eats SpongeBob mac-and-cheese whenever he can. “They taste better,” Schorr said.
Their friendship goes deeper than classic films and fine cuisine.
In December at the “Battle of the Border” in Blaine, Schorr agreed to forfeit to Mannie even though he won the challenge match.
“I won last year and wanted a two-fer,” Mannie recalled.
Mannie lost the match, his only defeat of the season to date. “I was disappointed but I appreciated James’ sacrifice.”
Thompson said he’ll be sorry to see them move on to other pursuits.
“They are two of the hardest working guys I have ever coached,” Thompson said.
“They battle each other daily, two state-quality kids going after each other very hard; it makes them better wrestlers.
“They are great leaders and fun to be around. In the seven years I have coached James, he has never lost an argument on the mat. Aaron is a very good technician while James is both technically sound and very strong.
“Both have been like family to me,” Thompson added. “It’s always fun hanging with these guys. We work so very hard, but have more fun than we really should be allowed to have.”
Both athletes freely returned the compliments.
“He’s a seriously good coach,” Mannie said.
On road trips, both boys engage in what they term “brawls.”
“Sometimes on the bus or in the motel, we take on the heavyweights like Trapper (Rawls) or Darrin (Brittain),” Schorr recalled. “I remember once looking up and Aaron had one of the big guys in a choke hold. All four of us were laughing pretty hard. The coach, too.”
One thing both athletes agreed upon is the nature of life for a teen growing up on Whidbey Island. While acknowledging the island’s beauty and the close support they’ve gotten from family and friends, they don’t hesitate to cite the island’s major downside.
“There isn’t much to do here for young people,” Mannie said.
Schorr noted options for kids are limited to the Clyde Theatre or going to someone’s house. “That’s about it,” he said.
Or sports. For students like Mannie and Schorr who practice daily in the mat room and travel long distances by bus to places like Forks and Nooksack, athletics is a great way to stay in shape and compete at the highest level.
Scheduling problems, unique to wrestling, have kept the team on the road till now. At 6:45 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 10, the Falcon grapplers welcome the Sultan Turks for the first Cascade Conference meet of the season in Erikson Gym.
“We hope folks come out and watch,” Mannie said.
Jeff VanDerford can be reached at 221-5300 or sports@south