Peninsula High School head coach Mark Nickels’ wrestling team lost a strong senior class to graduation last year, but the Seahawks will look to rebuild with junior co-captains Luke Holsinger and Zach Goddard.
The Seahawks placed sixth in the Class 3A portion of the Mat Clasic state tournament last year.
Holsinger, who will either wrestle in at 170 pounds or at 182, placed fifth at state individually. He has his eyes on the top prize this year.
“I want to win state,” he said.
While the team could take a step back, Nickels has developed a program that focuses on development, instead of putting too much stock into one weight class.
“There’s some programs that are just hoping good kids come into the room,” Nickels said. “I think we can take a kid who doesn’t have a lot of experience and develop him into a competitive kid. I believe in what we’re doing, and I believe in what the kids are capable of doing.”
One reason for optimism is that this year’s team should be more full across all weight divisions.
“We have some good freshmen coming up, some seniors stepping up, and I think we’re going to be able to fill the lineup up better this year,” Holsinger said. “We’ll have a few more wrestlers in the heavy weights and the lighter weights. We won’t have forfeits in duals quite as frequently.”
Last year, the Seahawks often looked to win by pinfall — worth six points in a dual match — rather than battling for a decision, which counts for three team points. That’s because the forfeits add up for their opposition.
This year, that shouldn’t be as big of an issue, Nickels said.
Goddard, who has worked on his strength during the offseason while maintaining his weight at about 145, said the team is quickly rebuilding.
“I think we could easily get top 10 in state again,” he said. “We have a strong junior class right now, too. We’re reloading with freshmen and younger kids.”
The team lost several state competitors to graduation, but many return with experience at the Mat Classic — an experience that can’t be undervalued, Nickels said.
“That’s a big deal,” he said. “It really makes a big difference. Kids will go in there, and there’s 20,000 people there, and you’ve got 16 mats on the floor. They come in kind of doe-eyed. Once you’ve get that out from under your belt, then the next time you go, you know a little more. You’ve been there before, and it’s not so jarring.”
Nickels said Holsinger should be in the hunt for the state title. But regardless of how the team finishes, the team’s youth should pave the way toward having a deep, talented team in 2015.
“I think we’re one year off of doing better than we did last year,” Nickels said. “I would anticipate a bit of a drop back in terms of state-level success, but I think we’re about a year off from topping that.”
seahawks’ wresting schedule
Dec. 7at Timberline10 a.m.
Dec. 12at Decatur6 p.m.
Dec. 13at Olympic5 p.m.
Dec. 14at Bonney Lake9 a.m.
Dec. 19vs. Lakes6 p.m.
Dec. 21at Yakima Tribal 9 a.m.
Dec. 21at South Kitsap10 a.m.
Dec. 30SPSL Tournament at Auburn9 a.m.
Dec. 31SPSL Tournament at Auburn9 a.m.
Jan. 4at Eastmont9 a.m.
Jan. 9at Enumclaw6 p.m.
Jan. 11at Snohomish10 a.m.
Jan. 15at Bonney Lake6 p.m.
Jan. 18at Auburn Mountainview10 a.m.
Jan. 22at Auburn Mountainview6 p.m.
Jan. 25at South Kitsap10 a.m.Sports reporter Jon Manley can be reached at 253-358-4151 or by email at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter, @gateway_jon.