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Arlington enters new era for wrestling
ARLINGTON — The Eagles are entering a new era of wrestling.
The first class of younger wrestlers that have been around the program since elementary school are surfacing in coach Shaun Williams’ program.
“We’ve only got like 50 kids, but they are 50 kids that love wrestling — and know wrestling,” Williams said. “And that is more than last year.”
Williams says he expects big things from his 20 incoming freshmen, although it may not be right away. But that isn’t a problem as the Eagles field a pair of returning state participants and a number of varsity grapplers.
Leading the way will be senior Nathan Shortt, who finished seventh in state at 145. Shortt made waves before the season began, finishing in seventh place at the New Wave Nationals in Nevada a month ago at 143 pounds. He’ll jump up to 152 this season.
“I think he’s starting to come on,” said Williams. “He can beat anybody, but at the same time, he can lose to anybody.”
Shortt will be joined by fellow state qualifier Brady Quinton, who bowed out of last year’s Mat Classic after two matches. Quinton might take a few weeks to get his endurance up after suffering a knee injury during the summer that forced him to sit out his senior football season.
“He’s back and on the mat,” said Williams. “But it’s going to take time.”
Arlington finished tied for fourth place with Snohomish in the Wesco North at 5-3, and sent five wrestlers to state last year, coming away with a couple of placers and Williams thinks that his boys have the ability to achieve the same, if not improve.
“If we can just improve on what we did last year,” Williams said. “Having five guys or more go to state will be progress. We had success last year — with a little bit of luck we could have done a little better.”
Also returning will be seniors Matt Badgley and Hunter Amundson, who wrestled at 145 and 125, respectively.
While seniors and freshmen highlight the preseason discussion about the Eagles, Williams also expects a lot out of his large junior class.
“A couple of my juniors can step up and when the freshmen start rolling, we’ll be on our way,” Williams said.
A few of the juniors, most notably Riley Cobb and Blake McPherson, will be nursing injuries at the beginning of the season, but Shawn Berg and Jesse Driscoll could make a difference.
Around the league, Williams expects Lake Stevens and Snohomish to be near the top.