Whether he realizes it sooner or later, the 2016 Everett Classic may be one of the best things to happen for South Whidbey 145-pound junior Hunter Newman. At least that’s what Falcon head coach Jim Thompson thinks.
Newman entered the tournament with a 9-0 record and was ranked ninth in the state at Class 1A. Four ranked wrestlers at the Class 3A and 4A levels placed ahead of Newman, one of which handed Newman his first loss of the season. Newman tied for fifth after going 3-2 at the tournament.
“I think he’s going to be OK and realize that a couple of tough losses against ranked kids will do more good than harm,” Thompson said. “He’ll bounce back.”
“I think it took him a couple days to process that,” he added.
Newman opened the day with a 7-3 win over Meadowdale’s Elias Lynch. Newman faced Jake Covington of Pasco, who is ninth-ranked in Class 4A, in the quarterfinals. Covington pinned Newman in the third period. Newman won his following two matches by decision, but fell to Hazen’s Nik Vargas, 14-3, to tie for 5th place. Vargas is ranked eleventh at Class 3A.
Newman was visibly upset after losing to Covington in the quarters. It took him the better part of the day to readjust his expectations and refocus, though he still remains critical of himself.
“I know I’m a better wrestler than I wrestled this weekend,” Newman said. “I’m listening to what (Thompson is) saying about it, but it’s tough when you know you could do better than you did.”
It was a long day for Newman and the Falcons. The team left the high school at 6 a.m. and returned to the island on the 9 p.m. ferry.
“I don’t know any other sport that does that,” Thompson said.
Thompson said the tournament dragged on in length due to organizers running both a varsity and junior varsity tournament in the same building at Everett High School’s gym.
The Falcons split their team and competed in both tournaments. Newman and Falcon senior 160-pounder Madison Evans competed in the varsity tournament, while the rest competed in the JV tournament. Evans lost his opening match against Mount Si’s Kurtis Olson by pin, but rebounded with a pin of Ferndale’s Alex Cleary in the consolation bracket. He was eliminated from the tournament after losing to Mount Vernon’s Zach Cleave, 8-5.
“He did OK. He still loses matches he shouldn’t lose,” Thompson said of Evans’ performance. “He’s too nice. Madison’s got to get a little meaner. He’s got to want to go out there on the mat and not lose.”
Freshman Aryeh Rohde (120), junior Jack Nielson (152), and junior Logan Madsen (182) won their respective weight divisions in the JV tournament. Thompson praised Nielsen’s aggression on the day. Nielson pinned two of his opponents en route to winning his bracket.
“It felt really good. It was a good tournament,” Nielson said. “There was a lot of challenges in there.”
For Newman, it will be about regaining some dignity this weekend when the Falcons travel to compete in the Sky Valley Invite hosted by Sultan High School.
That’s because there’s a chink in Newman’s armor now. It’s up to him to prevent others from occurring. Among his issues that need to be addressed were scoring moves from the bottom position. Newman said his explosiveness from the position wasn’t an issue in the tournament, rather it was the scoring moves, such as the stand up or hip heist, that plagued his matches. Thompson said he also needs to improve from the neutral position.
But, despite the losses, Thompson learned a few things about Newman that may pay dividends down the road.
“I learned that no matter what, even if he’s losing, he doesn’t stop, he doesn’t quit, he keeps battling to the end, and he gets very upset when he loses,” Thompson. “I can’t coach that, that’s just in him.”