South Whidbey will not have a home wrestling meet this year and district officials have canceled the team’s remaining away head-to-head Cascade Conference meets.
Falcon head coach Jim Thompson said he made the decision after the earlier thumping at Archbishop Murphy, though he has considered the idea for years.
“We don’t want to go on a Thursday night to wrestle one match,” Thompson said.
“It’s not worth their while, not for a single match,” he added.
Six of the eight Cascade Conference schools have wrestling teams. South Whidbey and Sultan are the only 1A programs, with the rest classified as 2A. For years, the league matchups were held Thursday nights, and at South Whidbey the spectacle was a full show complete with a lone dome light suspended above the single mat for each varsity bout.
Unless Lakewood, which was South Whidbey’s only opponent it would host, elects to travel for a maximum of nine matches, South Whidbey will not have a home meet or senior night. Instead, the Falcons will compete at weekend tournaments. A standard high school wrestling meet features 14 weight classes, but South Whidbey only has eight wrestlers available after one senior quit and another was determined academically ineligible, Thompson said.
“We only have six or seven healthy bodies right now,” said South Whidbey Athletic Director Kelly Kirk. “It would only be 30 or 40 minutes, then they’d turn around and go home.”
Limitations with the size of the squad led Thompson to enter the entire program into the Everett Classic’s junior varsity brackets on Jan. 3. Each Falcon got at least three matches, which was more important to Thompson than competing in a varsity bout.
“For the first time since I’ve been there, every 16-man bracket had at least 12 seed-able wrestlers,” Thompson said. “So there’s no sense in it. They’re not going to get anything out of it.”
“They got a lot of good wrestling and it was all against 3A and 4A teams,” he added, referring to the Falcons.
Several Falcons won their weight class units, which were divided differently than a championship bracket. Will Holbert, a senior, and Hunter Newman, a sophomore, both won their units in the 138-pound division. Josh McElhinny finished in second place in the 145, as did sophomore Jack Nielsen. Madison Evans, a junior, won the 160.
Next season, Thompson said he plans to advocate and push for the elimination of head-to-head league meets in favor of three-team matches.