When an already small roster meets with attrition, the result is what happened last Thursday night at North Creek High School. The depleted ranks of the Woodinville wrestling team won four of their matches against the Jaguars. But the multiple forfeits from vacated weight classes did in the Falcons, who lost 41-25. Woodinville’s season record dropped to 1-4, while North Creek improved to 4-3.
“It can be disappointing,” Woodinville coach Todd Christensen said. “But we talk about the guys we have here winning the matches. That’s all we can do. We’ve had the string of injuries and a couple kids out sick. It happens. I thought the kids that were here wrestled hard and had a good night.”
The victorious Falcons were Ian Tsang, Matthew Lopez, Nolan Downs and Drew Christensen.
“Ian had a good match against a strong kid,” Christensen said. “Scored a lot of points, couldn’t get the pin. Matthew Lopez had a great match, another come-from-behind win. That was awesome for him. And then Nolan Downs had a pin at [the 152 pound weight class] and Drew had a pin at [the 160 pound weight class]. I was proud of how they wrestled.”
Senior Ian Tsang was still catching his breath as he spoke about his win.
“The key there was to break him mentally,” Tsang said. “Coach talked a lot about being more mentally tough than your opponent. That’s really half the battle. I was able to power through my tiredness and I was able to outwork him and get more points.”
When freshman Matthew Lopez talked with the Woodinville Weekly in December, he discussed how outlasting his opponent was the key to success. He has since changed his strategy.
“I’ve had trouble getting points early,” Lopez said. “So this time, I got my points early. The time I took on top really wore him down and that was what let me win. It was a general philosophy change. I feel like I scored and secured my lead, and then I outlasted him.”
Drew Christensen described the aspects he’s been working on.
“Coming into this year I wasn’t too bad on the mat, but I was struggling on my feet against [quality competition]”, Christensen said. “I wasn’t creating any angles or movement on my feet. So I wasn’t getting any of the shots. But [assistant coach Adam Broda] was telling me earlier this year that you can’t win matches without scoring points on your feet. So the last two weeks, all we’ve been doing at practice is creating movement on my feet and working on my timing to get to the legs and finishing well”.
Coach Christensen summarized the season to this point.
“The kids have improved a lot,” he said. “We can see them making progress. We work all year long and go to a lot of tournaments. We get our tail kicked at some of these tournaments around the State. But it’s all about having success at District. Unfortunately we haven’t had the roster numbers out to do well in our league. But we want to get [as many] kids [as possible] through the regionals and on to State.”
Two things, however, are clear: The coaches are animated and committed to coaching. And morale is high throughout the team.
“The kids are having fun, they’re a good group of kids,” Coach Christensen said. “They like each other and they like being together. They’re working hard. And I have a great group of coaches. Ryan Hitzemann, Shaun Newton, Adam Broda and John Lockhart. They’ve all been helping me this year, and it’s really great that these guys want to [invest themselves] into the lives of these kids.”