Not often does a first-year wrestler reach the finals of a varsity tournament.
But, even after South Whidbey sophomore 182-pounder wrestler Alex Turner broke that mold when he placed second in the Iron Sharpens Iron Tournament on Saturday at Bellevue Christian High School, it still wasn’t enough to quench his competitive thirst.
“I wanted to get first, but second’s good, it’s alright,” Turner said.
He was pinned by Rainier’s David Hoover in the finals.
Such is the attitude of a wrestler who doesn’t like to lose, said head coach Jim Thompson. Thompson said he’s been pleased with Turner’s progression just a month into the season.
“He’s got instincts and desires,” Thompson said. “We’re very encouraged by him.”
Turner was one of South Whidbey’s two finalists; senior 145-pounder Hunter Newman finished first in his bracket for the second consecutive week and improved his season record to 4-0. He reached the final after pinning Ted Lester of Rainier in the semifinals.
Newman said he is still waiting to be tested on the mat; most of his matches have been a breeze, the fourth-year wrestler said.
“I’m catching people that are a little bit slower and I’m also catching people that I’m totally dominating and they don’t have any time to move, and they won’t move,” Newman said.
The Falcons tied Bellevue Christian for fourth in the nine-team tournament with 109 points. Chelan won the tournament with 155 points.
Also reaching the podium were senior heavyweight Chase Barthlett (third), freshman 138-pounder Dayton Birchfield (sixth), senior Jack Nielsen (third, 152), sophomore Owen Boram (fourth, 152), senior Logan Madsen (third, 195), and freshman Dylan Davis (fourth, 220).
With only about a month of wrestling under his belt, Turner has placed in the top five in two consecutive tournaments and earned four wins against three losses. Turner played basketball his freshman year but decided to turn out for wrestling this season. He caught on to the sport quickly, said Thompson, in large part due to his experience on the gridiron. He was a first-team all-conference offensive lineman for the Falcons.
“Because on the line, you’re always in your base and hip-to-hip with other guys,” Turner said. “This is pretty much the same thing. Football helps a lot in here.”
Like most wrestlers who endure a practice under Thompson and assistant coach Paul Newman, the level of conditioning and strain on the mind and body is surprising, Turner said. On a scale from one to 10, he rated practices at 15.
“Football, we didn’t really do conditioning,” Turner said. “The conditioning in here is hard.”
Turner said he still needs to improve his ability to break down his opponents from the top position. He added that his ultimate goal for the season is to make it to state.
“I think I can get there,” Turner said. “Why couldn’t I?”
Thompson said Turner was capable of beating Hoover in the finals. Turner took Hoover down multiple times and nearly pinned him once. But, he made a mistake common with first-year wrestlers when he got out of position while looking for a pinning move.
“All of a sudden, one mistake and he’s on his back,” Thompson said.
If Thompson had one critique for Turner, it was that he was almost inconsolable and unwilling to listen to coaches after losing.
“We have to look him in the face and go, ‘You need to listen to us right now, I know you’re upset and you just lost and you hate losing, but every time you lose it’s a coachable situation,’” Thompson said. “He’s very fiery.”
Thompson said Turner’s passion will carry him far.
“He has exactly the kind of attitude you want in a wrestler,” Thompson said. “You got kids who have it and you got kids who don’t have it. And he has it.”