One point separated South Whidbey and Lakewood’s wrestling teams after a long day of grappling at the King of the Mountain Tournament in Darrington this past weekend.
The Falcons took third place, their fourth top-three finish in as many tournaments, behind Lakewood and first-place Sultan.
“That’s one pin,” said Falcon head coach Jim Thompson. “When you lose by one point, it just drives you crazy.”
South Whidbey had plenty of chances. Four Falcons wrestled in their weight class’ championship match, but only Andy Madsen won. It was another victory in a stellar season in which the 152-pound senior has amassed a 14-1 record and pinned 13 of his opponents.
Facing opponents from fellow Cascade Conference schools Granite Falls, Sultan and Lakewood, Madsen saved his top performance for the final match. Madsen squared off against Darrington’s Garrett Green, the third-ranked wrestler in the WIAA 1B classification.
“Probably the best match I’ve seen him wrestle all year,” Thompson said of Madsen. “He just handled him. It was a clinic.”
Madsen defeated Green in a 7-3 decision, winning the King of the Mountain 152-pound title.
“The last one was a tough one,” Madsen said during practice Monday, adding that some new moves helped him claim the 152 tournament title. “He didn’t want to be pinned, so I had to win by points.”
A few other Falcons made their way to the championship match but lost: senior Kyrell Broyles in the 160-pound bracket; Beck Davis, a 195-pound senior; and junior Pierce Jackson in the lightly-fielded heavyweight division.
South Whidbey’s Donnie Sutton rebounded from a loss to claim third place in the 145.
Three Falcons took fourth place: Josh McElhinny in the 132; Calvin Shimada in the 170; and Jose Chavez in the 182.
One of the surprises of the tournament was senior Tyler Russell placing fifth in the 138-pound division. Having performed well at other tournaments and matches, an early loss dropped Russell to the consolation side of the bracket. It was a frustrating match for Thompson, who noted that Russell led in the lost match 6-2 at one point before being rolled over and pinned.
“I wasn’t really happy with the way we wrestled. I thought we took a step back,” Thompson said.
“It’s hard when they should win matches and they don’t. That’s hard to take as a coach, to know your kid is better and loses.”
South Whidbey’s wrestlers had several days off in a row from practice around Christmas. Despite the bit of extended rest, and probably a bit of overeating typical of the holiday season, Thompson said it served his wrestlers well. A few were dealing with nagging injuries and returning from an illness that spread through the high school in December, as well as a couple who had to bring their grades up.
Only one Falcon wrestler who competed at Darrington High School didn’t finish in the top five — Will Holbert in the 126, which Thompson called a “loaded field.”
Other schools that competed at the tournament were Concrete, Tacoma Baptist and Cascade Christian (Puyallup), which boasts a two-time state champion and one-time runner up.
South Whidbey gets to face Sultan, the favorite to win the conference title, at home Thursday in one of only two meets at South Whidbey High School this season. The meet begins at 7 p.m.
“They’re loaded this year,” Thompson said. “They’re the best team in the conference.”