It was a promising start to the season for South Whidbey’s wrestling team this past weekend.
The Falcons placed fifth overall at the Return of the Seahawk tournament on Dec. 3 at Cleveland High School in Seattle, with all five of South Whidbey’s returning varsity wrestlers placing in the top-two. The Falcons went toe-to-toe with 14 other schools ranging in size from Class 2A to 4A.
Seniors Hunter Newman (145 pounds) and Logan Madsen (195) placed first in their respective weight classes, while senior Jack Nielsen (145) and sophomores Aryeh Rohde (138) and Owen Boram (152) placed second.
Falcon sophomore and first-year wrestler Alex Turner placed fifth at 182 pounds. South Whidbey’s newcomers in Micah Tarantino, Dylan Davis, Dayton Birchfield, Odin Hopkins and Kobe Balora were eliminated from the tournament after two losses. Senior Chase Barthlett, a returning state heavyweight who is ranked ninth in Class 1A according to washingtonwrestlingreport.com, was unable to compete while taking the SAT.
Falcon head wrestling coach Jim Thompson said it wasn’t a surprise that South Whidbey performed like it did.
“I expect them to be on the podium of every tournament,” Thompson said.
Newman, the Falcons’ most decorated wrestler after qualifying for the state tournament his sophomore and junior years, pinned Sehome’s Aidan Vanbrink in one minute and 44 seconds in the quarterfinals. He followed that with an 8-1 victory over Cascade Christian’s Michael Gurr in the semifinals. He would have faced his teammate Neilsen in the finals, but Nielsen injury defaulted from the tournament after being illegally slammed by his opponent from Mount Rainier in the semifinals.
Newman thought it was a good start to his senior campaign. He’s still chasing a top-eight placing at the Class 1A state championships; he’s been eliminated twice in the past.
“It was definitely a good way to start the season, even though I only wrestled two matches,” Newman said.
Madsen is following in the footsteps of his older brother Andy Madsen, who qualified for state in 2014 at 145 pounds. His brother also won the first tournament of his senior year. Logan Madsen pinned all three of his opponents en route to his first-ever tournament win. While he was not content with his performance — he was taken down by Bellevue’s Henry Hawblitel in the first period before recovering to pin Hawblitel 37 seconds into the second period — Logan Madsen was proud to start the season with an unblemished record like his older brother.
“It means a lot to me as far as that goes that I can really fill those shoes,” Logan Madsen said.
Thompson said that all the wrestlers, even the first-year wrestlers new to the sport, showed good instincts on the mat. This was especially true for Turner, Thompson said. After losing his first match to Sehome’s Zach Masterson, Turner rebounded by pinning his next three opponents to reach the placing round. He was pinned by Rainier Beach’s Zach Jones to finish fifth.
The Falcons are competing in the Iron Sharpens Iron tournament today at Bellevue Christian High School.