By NATHAN WHALEN
Special to the News-Times
Oak Harbor’s boys and girls wrestling season kicked off last week with a fundraiser. The Purple and Gold intersquad matches Thursday raised $1,800 for the school’s wrestling program and will help pay for materials and tournament fees, said boys head coach Aaron McBride.
“It went really well. It gave the kids some exposure,” said Michael Crebbin, head coach of the girls wrestling team.
He estimated that several hundred people showed up.
The Wildcats started competing Saturday with the boys team attending the Edmonds Invite, and the girls team traveling to a tournament at Squalicum in Bellingham.
McBride said the Edmonds tournament is one of the toughest meets during the early part of the season, drawing top teams from different classes as well as teams from Oregon and Alaska.
“They’re a very tough tournament with a lot of good wrestlers,” McBride said.
Junior Kenny Anguiano placed fifth at 215 pounds and junior Josiah Christopherson placed sixth at 190 pounds at the invite.
The girls at Squalicum were divided into groups of four wrestlers and wrestled in round-robin format, which gave the wrestlers a chance to gauge where they are in terms of conditioning and technique, Crebbin said.
“It was kind of nice for the first weekend,” Crebbin said, describing the meet as a stick-your-toe-in-the-water experience.
McBride said Oak Harbor boys are fielding a young but aggressive team.
“Over half our roster is freshman and sophomores,” he said.
Oak Harbor’s boys team is fielding two wrestlers who placed in the state tournament last season. Christopherson placed fifth at 170 pounds and junior Percie Hatfield placed eighth at 152 pounds.
Two other wrestlers on the Wildcats, Anguiano and senior Anthony Anazquita, came up one match short at regionals last season of qualifying for the state tournament.
The girls team has 34 members with several wrestlers having experience competing at the state tournament.
Senior Annabelle Suto placed seventh at state.
“She did a lot of work in the offseason,” Crebbin said.
Junior Genesis Egli, senior Zoe Beeman, and junior Olivia Hudson competed at state last season while junior Julia Gonzalez went as an alternate.
Other key returners are senior Kayla Bodenheafer and junior Cady Ritz. The Wildcats will also benefit from returning wrestler senior Alexandra Powers, Crebbin said.
“We got some newcomers who are going to contribute,” Crebbin said, highlighting first-time wrestlers KaDee Snyder and Loto Tupu.
Oak Harbor High School’s girls wrestling team hosts a dual meet Wednesday against Blaine, Lynden and Nooksack Valley. The match starts at 6:30 p.m. They then compete Saturday at a tournament in Lake Stevens.
Oak Harbor’s boys wrestling team has one home match this season when the Wildcats host Anacortes Jan. 10. McBride said he is trying to “scrape together” one more home match, but a second match hasn’t been scheduled yet.