Melissa Newman photo — South Whidbey senior Chase Barthlett pinned Zillah’s Luis Briones in the first round of the class 1A Region 2 tournament on Feb. 11. Barthlett eventually qualified for the state tournament.

Two South Whidbey grapplers punch ticket to state tourney

South Whidbey senior Chase Barthlett had never been so nervous in his life.

Barthlett, the Falcons’ heavyweight, was warming up to wrestle Zillah’s Luis Briones in the first round of the class 1A Region 2 tournament at Highland High School on Saturday, Feb. 11. Self-doubt was creeping into his head and the thought that his career could come to a crashing halt loomed. He couldn’t keep his mind from going back to last year’s regional tournament when he was pinned in the first round of regionals.

“This whole year I’ve been a lot better about not being nervous, but that first match, I was sitting there and I was almost puking,” Barthlett said.

Then Barthlett realized something. He didn’t have to fight the self-doubt. Instead, he would control only what he could control: Effort on the mat.

“I told my mom, ‘Listen, whatever happens today, happens,’ ” Barthlett said. “‘I’m going to go out there and wrestle and give it my all.’ I’m going to let what happens, happen.”

Barthlett pinned Briones in the first period. The butterflies went away after that.

He then punched a ticket to the class 1A state wrestling tournament when he pinned Jose Mendoza of Granger with five seconds left in the first period. It will be Barthlett’s second consecutive trip to the state tournament after qualifying in 2016 in only two years wrestling for the Falcons.

“I got up and that’s when I realized: State,” Barthlett said. “It was such a cool feeling. I’m like, ‘Alright, now I know I’m going back.’ ”

The senior finished second after being pinned by Highland’s Noe Perez in the finals. Barthlett will be joined in the Tacoma Dome this weekend by senior 138-pounder Hunter Newman, who placed third despite having a broken right hand. Sophomore Owen Boram placed fifth at 152 pounds and will make also the trip to The Dome.

Senior 182-pounder Logan Madsen and sophomore Aryeh Rohde (126) finished sixth, while sophomore Alex Turner (170) went two-and-out.

Newman, who also qualified for state at 132 pounds in 2015 and 138 in 2016, pinned his first opponent, Eric De La Rose of Zillah, in a minute and 28 seconds. He lost his semifinal match to Granger’s Niko Garcia 7-4, but bounced back with an 8-6 overtime win over Josh Say of Cle Elum-Roslyn to advance to state. Newman won his final match of the day over Sultan’s Donald Dennis 8-2.

“I’m just excited I’m going again,” Newman said. “It was my dream to go four years in a row, but that fell short.”

Newman said it was difficult to block out the pain in his hand. He iced the swelling between matches. When he took the mat, he did his best to keep his mind from lingering on the pain. It was a task not easily accomplished, thanks to his opponents.

“Each one of the guys wrenched on the hand and that really sucked,” Newman said.

Head coach Jim Thompson said Saturday was an emotional rollercoaster, from watching Newman gut through his pain to earn his third state berth to seeing Boram fight his way to being a state alternate. He said he was overcome with joy when Barthlett won his semifinal match.

“When he came off the mat, we hugged and I literally fell apart,” Thompson said. “I was uncontrollably crying. The whole year, the end of my career — I was happy.”

Thompson’s tears of joy turned to laughter when Barthlett reminded him of a bet they had made the night prior to regionals. If any of the Falcons made it to state, Thompson would have to wear kids-sized shorts and blue spandex with leprechauns and rainbows that the team purchased at a thrift shop in Yakima.

“ ‘You have to wear the outfit now!’ ” Thompson remembered Barthlett saying.

Thompson stayed true to his promise when he strolled into the mat room Monday afternoon.

Newman is slated to wrestle Deer Park’s Brent Hodgson in the first round of state on Friday, Feb. 17. Barthlett will wrestle Jacob Massie of Port Townsend.

Evan Thompson / The Record — Staying true to his promise if any South Whidbey wrestlers reached the state tournament, Falcon head wrestling coach Jim Thompson wore kids sized shorts and blue spandex with leprechauns and rainbows that the team purchased at a thrift shop in Yakima to practice on Monday afternoon.

More in Sports

Falcon girls team learns what it can from consecutive losses

Losses don’t always have to be just a negative tally on a… Continue reading

Two wrestlers place at Sky Valley Invite

South Whidbey wrestling finished 15th out of 20 teams at the Sky… Continue reading

Pope named state athlete of the week

South Whidbey senior Lewis Pope was recently named to a state “Athletes… Continue reading

Falcons beat league juggernaut King’s by 15 points

South Whidbey boys basketball claimed the top spot in the Cascade Conference… Continue reading

Boys basketball team goes 2-1, finish 2nd in California tournament

South Whidbey boys basketball came away from its week long trip to… Continue reading

Falcons earn rebound win against Wolves

A rough stretch of games for South Whidbey’s girls basketball team this… Continue reading

Falcon boys hoops on winning streak

South Whidbey boys basketball is off to 5-0 start to the season.… Continue reading

Grapplers finish fourth at tourney

South Whidbey’s wrestling team finished fourth out of eight teams at the… Continue reading

Sherry Phay
Islander muscles way into national powerlifting meet

Sherry Phay displayed both her strength and quickness while winning her division… Continue reading

First-year head coaches settling into new roles

Robbie Bozin knew one day he’d be a head wrestling coach for… Continue reading

Falcon girls basketball team starts season 1-1, beat Clallam Bay

South Whidbey girls basketball lost its season-opening game on Friday night but… Continue reading

Despite lack of energy, Falcons defeat Aussies 44-33

South Whidbey boys basketball defended its home turf against foreign invaders on… Continue reading