Assistant coach Paul Newman explains a technique in practice earlier this season. (Photo by Jim Waller/South Whidbey Record)

Assistant coach Paul Newman explains a technique in practice earlier this season. (Photo by Jim Waller/South Whidbey Record)

Falcons on the rise / Wrestling

Improvement. That is what most high school coaches are looking for as their teams travel through the season.

The South Whidbey High School wrestling team is meeting that goal, according to coach Robbie Bozin. If fact, the Falcons “turned the corner,” Bozin said, at the Lynnwood Classic Saturday, Dec. 15.

“We are starting to see what we are showing and teaching in practice come to life,” Bozin said. “It is cool to see. Things are starting to work out.”

At Lynnwood, South Whidbey, the only 1A school in the tournament, placed sixth among the 11 teams — three 4A schools, three 3A schools and four 2A schools — despite not competing in four weight classes. The Falcons scored 91 points; Blaine took first with 181.5.

“We did great; everyone wrestled well,” Bozin said. “We finally got over the hump and took (an individual) first.”

The Falcons earned that first weight-class champion of the season when sophomore Drew Aposhyan captured the 126-pound division.

He was not alone on the podium. Sophomore Caleb McArthur (138 pounds) and junior Dylan Davis (285) both took second, and juniors Dayton Birchfield (160) and Aiden Coleman (182) finished third.

Bozin praised the work of those who placed, adding, “This is the second tournament Birchfield placed third. He poured his heart out; I’m seeing really good things from him.”

Bozin is confident other Falcons will work their way among the leaders in later tournaments.

“We just need to keep coaching, and they need to keep working hard,” he said.

Bozin lauded the effort of several others at Lynnwood.

Freshman Sequaia Durham (195), in his first year of wrestling, is “just a natural.”

“He is a tough, smart kid,” Bozin said. “He is inexperienced and makes little mistakes, but he is improving and has a good shot of going to regionals and possibly state.”

Freshmen Eden Batiste (145) and Kai Fawcett (132) and junior Cameron Martin (170) “wrestled tough” at Lynnwood.

“Eden has the heart and the drive; he wants to get after it,” Bozin said.

“I am proud of every kid,” he added. “Things are starting to fall in line.”

The athletes aren’t the only ones improving, according to Bozin. He, too, has grown in his second year as a head coach.

“I’m learning,” he said. “We’ve upped the intensity in practice this year, and we have seen the progress.

“Our conditioning is better; last year we died-out late in matches. Now we are in tip-top shape — better than last year.”

The mid-season goal from a coach’s perspective, according to Bozin, is to finish first as a team in one of the tournaments.

“We are almost there — physically and mentally,” he said. “We are ready to rock ’n’ roll. If we stay in this groove, we are going to be tough down the stretch.”

A good measuring stick to determine the team’s growth and where it stands among district schools comes this week at the Mount Baker Invitational (9:30 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 20). All but one school that will be at the District 1 championship later this season will attend.

The overall goal for the season, Bozin said, is to qualify as many athletes as possible for the regional and state tournaments.

After the Mount Baker tournament comes the 16-team Sky Valley Invitational Saturday, Jan. 5, in Sultan.

That will set up the dual-meet portion of the schedule.

Only three North Sound Conference schools — South Whidbey, Sultan and Granite Falls — field wrestling teams. The Northwest 2B/1B League also has only three schools with wrestling — Concrete, Friday Harbor and Darrington. Therefore, the two leagues will combine to fill out the dual schedue.

The Falcons open the dual season with a double-dual at Granite Falls, along with Sultan, Thursday, Jan. 10.

A week later, Darrington and Friday Harbor travel to Langley for South Whidbey’s only home match of the season.

South Whidbey results at Lynnwood

126, Drew Aposhyan (first place): bye; won 11-9; won by fall, 3:05; won by fall, 2:26.

132, Kai Fawcett: bye; lost by fall, 5:09; bye; lost 6-3.

138, Caleb McArthur (second): bye; won by fall, 2:40; won 8-3; lost by fall, 5:09.

145, Eden Batiste: won by fall, :16; lost by fall, 1:56; lost by fall, 2:22.

160, Dayton Birchfield (third): bye; won by fall, 1:55; lost by fall, 2:27; won by fall, :44.

170, Cameron Martin: bye; lost by fall, :48; bye; lost by fall, 2:28.

182, Aiden Coleman: bye; lost by fall, 3:12; bye; won 5-2; lost by fall, :43.

195, Sequaia Durham: bye; lost by fall, 3:25; bye; lost 7-0.

220, Kobe Balora (third): bye; won by fall, :45; lost by fall, 3:29; won by fall, 4:41.

285, Dylan Davis (second): bye; won by fall, :27; won by fall, :49; lost by fall, :24.

Kobe Balora, left, and Justin Moberly get ready to start a drill during practice. (Photo by Jim Waller/South Whidbey Record)

Kobe Balora, left, and Justin Moberly get ready to start a drill during practice. (Photo by Jim Waller/South Whidbey Record)