Wrestlers return veteran squad

One thing this year’s Oak Harbor wrestling team won’t lack is veteran leadership.

Seventeen seniors return to the mat, hoping to make a serious push for the WesCo North title and possibly beyond.

“We’ve talked as coaches and in overall sheer numbers this is the largest group of seniors I’ve ever had on one squad,” head coach Brian Farmer said.

Of the 17 seniors, seven made it to the regional tournament last year. Michael Davis, Ryan Lange, Robert Tafflinger, Tony Nicolas, Grayson Miller, Blake Ward and Patrick O’Brien contributed to an 11th place finish at the regional tournament .

“You couldn’t ask for a finer group of kids,” Farmer said. “We’ve just got great leadership and a great work ethic.”

Two juniors, Chris Wichers and Karlson Miller also advanced to the regional tournament.

Of those who moved on, O’Brien was the only Wildcat to go to the state tournament. Competing in the 171 pound weight class, he was unable to place in the top eight, but did win one of his three state matches.

O’Brien along with Tony Nicolas will act as team captains for the second year in a row.

“They were captains last year and now they have a year under their belt, so we expect they’re going to be even better captains this year,” Farmer said.

Other seniors on this years team include, Joel Crouch, Dale Webb, Randy Eggen, Tom Clark, Ian Poole, Eric MacMilan, Chad Tacia, Derek Wirth and Richard Cline.

Along with all the veteran wrestlers, Farmer expects some of the younger competitors to step up to the challenge.

“When we know we have a great group of seniors, we always have some underclassmen that will be pushing them a great deal,” he said.

Of Farmer’s younger wrestlers, the freshman class has left a strong impression on him.

“They’re extremely competitive,” he said. “They’re one of the most competitive groups of freshman I’ve had.”

As usual the WesCo North will present tough opposition from top to bottom. Lake Stevens, who edged Oak Harbor out in the sub-regional tournament last year, will be the team to target again.

“Lake Stevens will still be extremely tough,” Farmer said.

The Cats face the Vikings on the road, Thursday, Jan. 8 during the middle of the season.

Oak Harbor begins their season Thursday, Dec. 4 in a non-league meet at Jackson. They have their first home meet in double-dual action at 6 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 9 with Kamiak, Mountlake Terrace and Cascade.

Other home meets this year are against Cascade, Mount Vernon, Stanwood and Arlington.

With the potential this year’s team has, there’s no doubt the knowledgeable wrestling fans of Oak Harbor will have a fun season watching the Wildcats.

“We’ve got great wrestling fans that have been here for years and years because of the great tradition at Oak Harbor,” he said. “I personally feel like this is the best fan base in the WesCo North or the WesCo South for that matter.”

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