Even at a junior varsity tournament, South Whidbey’s wrestlers were the little fish in a big pond Saturday at Arlington High School.
All the same, three Falcons left as weight-class champions amid stiff competition in a 300-plus field of grapplers. Falcon head coach Jim Thompson said every wrestler he took got at least three matches in, and mat time is the most important element as South Whidbey gears up for the postseason in a few weeks.
“That’s exactly what we’re looking for right now,” Thompson said.
Falcon sophomore Hunter Newman at 132 pounds, senior Josh McElhinny at 138 and sophomore Jack Nielsen at 145 each won their weight class.
“They really kind of dominated their guys,” Thompson said.
As for the rest of the Falcons, Thompson was more critical. He cited several issues with technique and strength, both of which will not be addressed lightly or quickly. All of the Falcons will work on starting from the down position, escaping and pinning to recover points.
“I don’t have a problem with their effort,” he said. “Their effort is there. … You just wrestled really good kids this week.”
South Whidbey scrapped its head-to-head meets, called dual meets, with Cascade Conference opponents this season. With only eight wrestlers on the roster, Thompson believes the trip didn’t make much sense for either team. Instead the Falcons are focusing on weekend tournaments that guarantee a minimum of two matches per wrestler, such as the King of the Mountain Tournament on Jan. 17 that South Whidbey will attend in Darrington.
There, the Falcons are going to face at least three ranked schools in different classifications, including 1B Darrington, 1A Sultan and 2A Cedarcrest.
“This is a good tournament for some of these guys to see where they are and where they’re going to be at the end of the year,” Thompson said.