Last year, it was the strongest wrestler who was the role model for South Whidbey High School’s young men of the mat.
This year, the job goes to the team’s smallest wrestler.
Riding six tournament championships so far this season, 103-pound junior Phil Schorr was the one Falcon who could not be beaten Saturday, much like former teammate Brandon Hern was last year. One week after he claimed the North Cascades district title in his weight class and shyly accepted praise for the achievement, Schorr owned the competition at Mount Lake High School last weekend, winning the championship bout by pinning his opponent in the second round.
His placing was one of several among the Falcons, who will send five wrestlers to the state Mat Classic Friday and Saturday.
Schorr’s win — and his team’s fifth-place finish in front of conference rival — was was a big improvement over the narrow 4-2 victory he had in last week’s final. This time, matched against the second-best wrestler in a two-district area, Orting’s Anthony Heffernan, Schorr left no doubt as to who from Region 1 would be a star at the next weekend’s state tournament in Tacoma.
Schorr’s coach, Wes Helseth, was shocked to see the bout over so quickly.
“We expected a pretty tough match,” he said.
But those would come in heavier weight classes later in the day.
Also reaching championship bouts were Falcons Chris Long and Ben Harris. For Long, the third and final bout Saturday, against Justin Van Dyke of Nooksack Valley, was almost a replay of three others he lost to the 145-pound wrestler this season, including a 4-2 lost at the previous weekend’s district meet.
This time, Long came just a bit closer to being the better wrestler. After falling behind 2-3, Long reversed Van Dyke to his back to take a one-point lead. Seconds later, it was Van Dyke who was in control, rolling Long to his back and pinning him.
Coach Helseth said it was a sad sight to see, especially after watching Long work hard all year to beat his Pioneer nemesis.
“It was horrible,” he said.
At 160 pounds, Harris was wrestling comfortably until his final bout. Against Robert Bennedson of Vashon, he scored an early 1-0 lead before being thrown to his back to lose five points. It was all Bennedson needed as the score stagnated at 5-1 through an even third round.
The bout was the second Harris has lost to Bennedson. But, said Helseth, none of that matters at the state meet.
“He wants another shot at him,” he said.
Other Falcons guaranteed of another shot are junior Conley White and sophomore Justin Serrill. After placing fourth at 130 pounds at the district meet — a placing handed to him by Blaine’s Rich Tewes in a consolation championship bout — White demolished Tewes at Mountlake Terrace, pinning him in the third round to grab the fifth and last slot open for the Mat Classic.
Rueth took just about the toughest road possible to earn third place at 112 pounds. Coming into the meet as the third ranked wrestler from his district, he beat second ranked Ryan Fitz of Klahowya 13-5 in his first round match, then buried Tyler Marshall of Mount Baker 7-2 in the consolation final.
His coach said Rueth has matured as a wrestler in just the final weeks of the season.
“It’s a cool thing to see happen.”
Another South Whidbey wrestler who will make the trip to Tacoma, but who is not guaranteed so much as a bout, is Jason Mannie. The 135 pounder lost a 15-2 fifth-sixth place match to Josh Thorn of Vashon to close out his day Saturday. The placing makes him an alternate; he will wrestle only if one of the qualifying wrestlers from his district cannot.
South Whidbey’s team placing at the Region 1 meet is an improvement over last year’s 10th-place finish. The team is also sending one more wrestler to the state meet this year than it did in 2002.
This weekend’s state meet starts at 10 a.m. Friday in the Tacoma Dome. The second day of wrestling, on Saturday, also begins at 10 a.m.