As a private high school, Archbishop Murphy has the luxury of casting a wide net for student-athletes to join their sports programs.
They often win, driving their 2A opponents, coaches and fans crazy. But sometimes they get beaten and when that occurs, it is very sweet indeed.
The South Whidbey wrestling team did just that Thursday, winning 45-30 and remaining undefeated in the league with a 5-0 overall record.
At this pace, the Falcons will make history when they secure their first league title ever. South Whidbey is 2-0 in the league, 5-0 overall while Archbishop Murphy falls to 3-1 in league, 3-3 overall.
“Beating ATM was a huge step forward for us,” Falcons Coach Jim Thompson said.
The match sets the stage for the big storm-delayed rendezvous in Erikson Gym with Cedarcrest on Jan. 31 (also celebrating the team’s seniors). This night will tell the tale — a win means an almost certain Cascade Conference championship.
Against ATM, South Whidbey used six pins and won 10 of the first 12 matches, forging a commanding 45-12 lead.
“The boys knew the importance of this match and they stepped up big time,” Thompson said. “I had to make adjustments when Colton (Vaughn) and Brett (Warwick) were injured last week. Aaron (Mannie) and James (Shorr) made the sacrifices needed to help us win.”
Mannie (130-pound weight class) won by forfeit while Ben Morgen (145) won a decision at 9-3, Shorr (135), Matt Long (152), Jordan Broyles (160), Trevor Romero (171), Darrin Britton (215) and Trapper Rawls (285) all pinned their Wildcat opponents.
Morgen’s match was halted four times when the Falcon grappler’s nose began to bleed. Actually, minor injuries are a fairly common occurrence — coaches quickly stanch the flow and use disinfectant wipes to clean the mat.
Matches are seldom cancelled from a little blood. But Morgen’s rhythm was clearly interrupted and Wildcat John Miller maintained a stubborn defensive posture all three rounds.
Morgen won, but decisions only provide three points versus the six rewarded for a pin.
“I do the same thing sometimes,” Thompson said. “I told them during practice, ‘Some of you guys are going to lose; just remember the goal is to not get pinned.’ Kurt (Warwick) and Vincent (Messina) had great matches and went the distance before losing.”
Evidence that Falcon wrestlers got the message came during Romero and Britten’s matches — they both pinned Wildcats they had lost to back in December.
As the match progressed, Thompson and assistant coach Paul Newman were intensely vocal as they urged their athletes from the bench:
“Take his side.”
“Arch your back.”
“Head up, fight him.”
“Take him down; do it now!”
Practice makes perfect and the athletes who’ve been working hard in the weight room demonstrated a clear superiority in terms of finesse, speed, power and the fine art of intelligent takedowns.
Saturday, the boys travel to the Lynden Tournament.
Jeff VanDerford can be reached at 221-5300 or firstname.lastname@example.org.