South Whidbey wrestling had the grapplers, but lacked the numbers to defeat Archbishop Murphy in a dual meet Thursday night in Everett.
The Falcons won four of the six head-to-head matches, but had to forfeit seven bouts because there were no wrestlers from South Whidbey at those weight classes. Archbishop Murphy forfeited three matches.
“We won four of the six head-to-head matches, so I was pretty happy about that,” said Falcon head coach Jim Thompson. “When we have small teams like this, I tell the kids, throw the forfeits out and let’s win the head to heads.”
South Whidbey traveled with seven eligible wrestlers for the Cascade Conference contest. The Falcons won the 132, 138, 145, 160 and 220-pound bouts, though the 220 was a Wildcat forfeit.
The first Falcon victory came in the first actual bout of the night at the 132. Sophomore Hunter Newman pinned Wildcat Sam Skranak in the second period.
His victory was followed by another for South Whidbey when senior Josh McElhinny defeated Archbishop Murphy’s Reagan Gordon 8-3, despite being ill.
“He was kind of struggling,” Thompson said. “It was actually closer than that.”
Jack Nielsen, a Falcon sophomore, was bumped up a weight class to the 145. Giving up at least 5 pounds, Thompson said, the Falcon was able to pin Wildcat Jacob Lucas at the end of the first period.
Madison Evans, a junior, pinned Wildcat Kyle Malone in the second period in 3:42.
Overall, Thompson said the Falcons were good on their feet, from the top position after resets and at escaping. But for the grizzled coach of more than a decade, all he saw were points of improvement across the board.
“Nothing’s standing out yet,” he said. “We’re still early. All I’m seeing is stuff to work on. We’re still making mistakes.”
One of the issues for South Whidbey this season is its small team. With less than a full roster, the Falcons rarely have multiple wrestlers in a single weight class, making live practices more challenging to simulate a match.
“When you’re small, you don’t get the matchup you’d like in practice,” Thompson said.
Yet the Falcons press on. With the holiday break approaching, South Whidbey had work ahead of it in the form of two tournaments featuring mostly 3A and 4A schools. South Whidbey High School is 1A, meaning the student population is significantly smaller.
“When you wrestle the bigger schools, what you run up against is that the programs are bigger,” Thompson said. “So they have the advantage of a lot of good kids in the room.”
“There was a time when it was fun to go to those bigger tournaments,” he added, as the Falcon roster was once larger.
South Whidbey competed in the Lynnwood Classic tournament Dec. 20, after The Record went to press, and will compete in the Everett Classic on Jan. 3 to ring in the new year.
Five Falcons finish in top three at Bellevue Christian tournament
South Whidbey had five wrestlers finish in the top three spots at the Iron Sharpens Iron tournament this past weekend.
Hosted by fellow 1A school Bellevue Christian, several small schools competed for individual and team titles Dec. 13.
South Whidbey senior Josh McElhinny again had to settle for second place, the second time in two weeks. The 138-pound Falcon was pinned in overtime by Darrington’s Shane Kennamer in the Bellevue championship match.
Darrington won the team title, according to the Daily Herald, a sister paper to The Record, with five first-place wrestlers and a pair of second-place grapplers. South Whidbey placed ninth.
Four other Falcons finished in third place, winning the consolation bracket. At 132 pounds, sophomore Hunter Newman recovered from a first-round loss and won his way to the consolation title, getting revenge on the grappler who beat him earlier. Also in the 132, Falcon senior Will Holbert placed fifth.
Madison Evans, a junior, placed third in the 182-pound division.
Logan Madsen, a sophomore, participated in the round robin tournament and won all three of his 182-pound matches.