The Cedarcrest wrestling team showed up in Erikson Gym on Wednesday, ready to defend their undefeated 4-0 status opposite the only other undefeated team in the Cascade Conference.
And they did, beating the Falcons 42-33 before the largest crowd ever to watch a South Whidbey wrestling match.
Rabid fans and first-timers alike were treated to some outstanding individual performances: South Whidbey’s Brett Warwick (130-pound weight class) won on points over Red Wolf Brian Carrol 5-4, Ben Morgen (145) pinned Michael Stockman, Matt Long (152) pinned Scotty Britton and Darrin Britton (215) overcame Jake Ritter by fall.
Kurt Warwick (103) and Trapper Rawls (285) won by forfeit.
“All my guys tried their hardest against a really superb team,” Falcon Coach Jim Thompson said.
“And coming in second in the conference with only 15 total wrestlers is a real achievement they should be proud of,” Thompson added.
Assistant Coach Paul Newman agreed.
“All year long they battled hard, for themselves and their school,” he said.
The evening began on a high note as the four seniors — Jorge Flores, Long, Morgen and Kurt Warwick — were honored for their hard work and dedication to the sport. Each presented a spray of flowers to his parents and got a well-earned hug in return.
The first six points went to South Whidbey when Cedarcrest forfeited the 103-pound class. Things went south as one Falcon athlete after another lost. It seemed as though the Cedarcrest kids were bigger.
They were, some of them.
“The night before, Cedarcrest beat Mount Si decisively,” Thompson said. “Under the rules of the sport, both teams are allowed to move kids down one weight class.”
Thompson didn’t make any changes, but the Cedarcrest coach made seven; he had more players available and the luxury of slotting wrestlers where it would do the Red Wolves the most good.
“They bumped some of their kids down and that hurt us,” he said.
James Schorr (140) fought a grappler who normally wrestles at 145, for example.
Even with the weight differential, for some reason Schorr didn’t feel as energetic as he should have. “Having the right mental attitude before a match plays a major role in success or failure and I didn’t have it,” he said. “If you push yourself hard, good things happen.”
Aaron Mannie (135) lost on points 6-3, mainly because his opponent went on the defense.
“His goal was not to get pinned early,” Mannie said. “I made a mistake, he got on my hips and turned in harder than I was expecting. I predict that we’ll meet again Saturday at districts.”
Vincent Messina (119) fought hard as well.
“He was just better than I am; I tried to defend his moves but he was definitely stronger,” Messina said.
Britton was the final grappler to hit the mats and he was downright angry.
“I was upset we were losing and I wanted the win real bad,” he recalled. “I felt pretty passionate about it. I was the aggressor and my tactic was to apply pressure big time until I got the pin.”
Everyone wanted to win, but it wasn’t in the cards this night.
“It was a bit of a disappointment but we know we have to move on,” Messina said.
“Moving on” begins at 10 a.m. today as the Falcons begin their search for a division championship at Archbishop Murphy.
“Vaughn, Mannie, Schorr, Morgen, Long, Britton and Rawls all have an excellent chance — today and at regionals,” Thompson said.
Jeff VanDerford can be reached at 221-53000 or firstname.lastname@example.org.