Sports

Wrestlers look strong going into match vs. Concrete

The Friday Harbor Wolverines wrestling team. Front row, from left, Evan Brickey, Tate Brumsickle, Kia Johns, Maverick Blake, Michael Davis, Dylan Korth, Christian Falls. Back row from left, Willy Dunn, Katie Gauthier, Caitlin McCauley, Shawn Cutting, Calen Mehrer, Justin “J.J.” James.                                                                         - Jane K. Fox
The Friday Harbor Wolverines wrestling team. Front row, from left, Evan Brickey, Tate Brumsickle, Kia Johns, Maverick Blake, Michael Davis, Dylan Korth, Christian Falls. Back row from left, Willy Dunn, Katie Gauthier, Caitlin McCauley, Shawn Cutting, Calen Mehrer, Justin “J.J.” James.
— image credit: Jane K. Fox

At A Glance
— What:
Friday Harbor Wolverines’ first of two home wrestling matches.
— The competition: The Concrete Lions.
— When: Thursday, 4:30 p.m.
— Where: Friday Harbor High School’s Hall Gym.

There’s something about Concrete that brings out the best in the Wolverines.

It may be as simple as having a chance to beat somebody else at their own game. Or it could be that the Wolverines have long played David to a Goliath-like Concrete wrestling program.

Either way, expect a crowded house and an all-out struggle as the Wolverines and Lions square off Thursday in Friday Harbor’s Hall Gym. The match gets under way at 4:30 p.m.

“They’re our biggest rival,” Friday Harbor junior Shawn Cutting said on the eve of Thursday’s showdown. “And wrestling is their sport.”

And not that this perennial grudge match needs any hype, but it’s the first of just two matches in which the Wolverines can showcase their talents before a home crowd this season.

So far, the Wolverines have been holding their own.

“For not having a full field, we’ve been doing pretty well,” said junior Maverick Blake, who added 12 pounds this season and now wrestles in the 152-pound weight division.

“We’ve had some new people coming along and some people dropping weight and that’s helped us in some of the lower weights.”

Blake, who’s prevailed in about two of every three matches despite moving up in weight, said the recent addition of freshman Marquis Napier, at 103 pounds, could save Friday Harbor from a perennial handicap of having to forfeit matches in lower weight categories because of a lack of bodies.

“He’s had only two practices,” Blake said of the newcomer. “But you can tell he has ‘the gift,’ as we like to say it.”

Like Blake, Cutting has also found success despite a move to a higher weight division. He dispatched three consecutive opponents en route to a third-place finish Dec. 22 at Mount Baker Invitational. That was in the 160-pound division, eight pounds heavier than his weight class last year.

Come Thursday, however, Cutting knows he’ll have his hands full against the Lions’ James Morton.

“He’s a brick,” he said. “He’s short and stocky, and he’s really strong.”

Thursday’s match will be the last time that seniors Calen Mehrer and Justin “J.J.” James will square off at home against the Lions. Along with sophomore Michael Davis, James and Mehrer were pre-season picks for a shot at qualifying for the annual Matt Classic, an end-of-season tournament for the state’s top wrestlers.

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