Bucs, Vikings see top wrestling competitors return

Assistant wrestling coach Jeremy Burnett, center, works on conditioning exercies with the KHS wrestling team last week - Brad Camp/For the Herald
Assistant wrestling coach Jeremy Burnett, center, works on conditioning exercies with the KHS wrestling team last week
— image credit: Brad Camp/For the Herald

For Buccaneers head coach Bobbey Reece, a large number of retuning wrestlers means one thing: experience.

The Bucs will start the season with 35 wrestlers, including 27 who are returning from last year and 11 who competed in the semi-finals of the regional tournament.

“We have a lot of students that have invested a lot of time into wrestling recently,” Reece said.

Last year, three wrestlers went to the state tournament, but Reece said he had expected to see more.

The team took second in districts, and ended the season with a 5-3 league record. The team took fourth in the region overall.

Though the wrestlers did well, Reece said the approach the team took to the tournaments could have been handled differently.

“We tend to over-think things that are really simpler than we make them,” Reece said.

Mainly, he would have liked to see the team focus on the basics. Often beginning wrestlers focus on more complicated maneuvers, which may result in a loss.

During the 2009 season the team lost to North Mason, Klahowya and Olympic by about five points each. Reece hopes to change those losses to wins.

With experienced wrestlers such as sophomores Heidi Rodolf and Kiana Witt on the female team, and senior Freddy Rodolf, along with juniors Jack Welker and Walker Larson on the men’s team; the Bucs will show their presence on the mat.

“This year we are going to go a long way,” Welker said. “We have a lot of experience.”

Between 20 and 30 wrestlers from the team joined a summer wrestling camp and Welker said he expects the team to conquer their shortcomings from last season.

Welker has wrestled for four years and began wrestling for the Bucs as a freshman. He will compete in the heavyweight class and said putting in the extra time during the offseason will make a difference going up against opponents such as Olympic High School.

On top of putting in time in the offseason, focusing on conditioning every morning is something junior Walker Larson knows will help in the long run.

This is Larson’s third year wrestling, This year he will compete in the 215 pound class, which he transitioned to after the football season. Though football players risk serious injuries, Larson said competing in both sports is mutually beneficial for him.

“Last season was a good way to show our opponents who we are and what we can do,” Larson said. “We sent them a message.”

The message the Bucs want to send this year: they are here to take state.

Viking team stays strong, but a lack of depth leaves team open to forfeits.

With three returning state wrestlers, the Vikings will show their strength on the mat this season, except in the heavier weight classes.

Head coach Joe Amick has put the call out, asking for someone to come forward and compete in the heavier weight class, but the team may suffer from forfeits.

“We are trying to recruit as many students as we can,” Amick said. “The team is strong between the 103-160 classes, but once we get into the heavyweights, we are at a loss.

Wrestlers such as Jake Velarde will help bring experience to the team, but without heavyweights it will make it difficult for the team to take home wins.

Along with the lack of heavier wrestlers, Brendon Best will not be able to compete until sometime later in December.

Best is also on the Viking football team and was injured playing during the season. Though his doctor said he will wrestle again, he must wait until he gets the OK, Amick said.

Best, along with Velarde, AJ Milyard and Jake Sievers, Andrew Posten, Josh Tucker, Donny Stamaris, Michael Coulter and Allan Dunlap, went to the state meet last year.

The team was 4-4 in the league last year, defeating Port Angeles, Olympic, Bremerton and Port Townsend.

Amick, who has coached the team for three years, said he plans on making sure the students don’t go over their head with techniques and try to stick to basic wrestling. In higher level competition, he said it is the wrestlers who stick with the moves they are familiar with that end up winning.

If the team does not find heavyweight wrestlers, before it comes time to compete, sophomore AJ Milyard said it will put a lot of pressure on the rest of the team.

The team will give up six points for every forfeit, but Milyard said the more knowledgeable wrestlers will help the new with technique.

“We will be working with a bunch of different students to help them get on our level,” Milyard said.

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