“Wrestlers are special kids, we watch out for them on and off the mat, in and out of season,” Coach Taine Pyle remarked when asked about his squad this year. The Wolverines will grapple for the first time this season on Wednesday, Dec. 7 at Friday Harbor High School. Eleven wrestlers will match up against Concrete and Darrington in league meet No. 1.
This year’s squad has a solid mix of three freshman, three returning seniors, a junior and a sophomore. Three eighth-graders practice with the squad and hope to compete at select matches when other schools have athletes the same age.
“My goal this year is to capture the league title and send five kids to the state championship tournament in the Tacoma Dome in February. Last year we sent four,” Coach Pyle explained.
The road to the state championship takes the division 2B Wolverines through the regional championships, where the team can send two wrestlers from each weight class to compete. From there, the top three, plus an alternate, in each weight class can go to Tacoma.
Practice for this season started on Nov. 14. The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association mandates that athletes in wrestling attend 12 practices minimum before being allowed to compete.
“Most of time spent during those practices have been indoors on the mat practicing technique. There is no substitute for actual wrestling, but we also spend some time focusing on cardio building by running the steps at the port, and in the sand pit off Pear Point. In addition, we always spend the last 20 minutes of our two-hour-plus practices doing sit ups, pushups and running sprints in the hallways,” said Coach Pyle. “It’s a tough 20 minutes and the kids like to weigh themselves before and after to see the results.”
There are 14 different weight classes for the wrestlers to compete within, and the students undergo an initial weight assessment in the early part of the practice season to determine which weight limit they can wrestle in. The athletes are weighed and measured for hydration, body mass index, and other metrics and assessed accordingly. If, during the assessment, they are deemed to be dehydrated – a common short cut to making weight – they are reweighed and assessed at a later date.
“It’s the original sport, 15,000 years ago men wrestled each other for meat to survive, wrestling builds huge amounts of self discipline, self-esteem and better people,” Assistant Coach Tim Hoke explained.