South Whidbey’s wrestling team came in second place in the district match held at Archbishop Murphy High School on Saturday.
But the Falcons will send a record 13 grapplers to regionals this weekend at Mount Vernon High School and, though his team missed the Cascade Conference title by a hair, Falcon Coach Jim Thompson was named Coach of the Year by his fellow coaches.
“This is a really well-deserved honor for him,” sophomore Trapper Rawls said.
Thompson was surprised he was named.
“I think it was because we did so well with such a small team — 15 members versus a typical 20 to 40 for other schools,” he said. “I told the guys Monday that anybody could have been chosen with this team.”
District champion honors went to South Whidbey’s Aaron Mannie (135-pound weight class), Ben Morgen (145), Matt Long (152) and Trapper Rawls (285).
James Schorr (140), Brett Warwick (130) and Colton Vaughn (103) took second, Darrin Britton (215) and David Monell (285) came in third while Kurt Warwick (103), Vincent Messina (119), Jordan Broyles (160) and Trevor Romero (171) managed a fourth spot. At 140 pounds, Caleb Nerison was named as alternate.
At the coaches seeding conference, there was some dissension over where to seed Aaron Mannie.
“I told them they could put him wherever they wanted, he’d win,” Thompson said. And he did. Meanwhile, Long came back to overcome the only opponent he’d lost to all season at Sultan last month.
At regionals, the top four wrestlers in each weight class will automatically qualify for state finals — the Mat Classic — in Tacoma on Feb. 16 and 17.
“The guys understand they’ll be competing against some of the best wrestlers in the Northwest,” Thompson said. “They have their work cut out for them.”
Jeff VanDerford can be reached at 221-5300 or firstname.lastname@example.org.