Arlington wrestling has new head coach

From left, Arlington boys wrestling junior varsity coach Jim Smoots, assistant coach Gary Niklason, varsity head coach Rick Iverson and assistant coach Barry Knott. - Courtesy Photo
From left, Arlington boys wrestling junior varsity coach Jim Smoots, assistant coach Gary Niklason, varsity head coach Rick Iverson and assistant coach Barry Knott.
— image credit: Courtesy Photo

ARLINGTON — Arlington boys wrestling has a new leader on its coaching staff.

Rick Iverson, whose 25 years of coaching had taken him to Western Washington University and Marysville-Pilchuck High School before he retired in 1998, has taken the helm of the boys wrestling.

“I’m tremendously enthused about it,” Iverson said. “The Arlington community is great. I’m a Marysville man, and my son, Craig Iverson, took my job at Marysville-Pilchuck when I left.”

Iverson wrestled for Sedro-Woolley and later Skagit Valley Community College in Mount Vernon. He’s been Regional Coach of the Year several times and was inducted to the State Hall of Fame in 1998. Iverson was honored to be inducted into the National Wrestling Coaches Hall of Fame in the summer of 2011.

When asked of his interest in the Arlington job, he emphasized that he had considered building the Arlington girls’ team, but the idea of coaching the Arlington boys team intrigued him. Iverson asked Barry Knott, his friend and long-time coaching peer who had also retired in 1998, if he was interested in coaching again. Knott accepted and the new regime began.

“We have about 75 years of coaching combined. I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad thing,” Iverson said with a laugh.

Iverson brings an aggressive wrestling style to Arlington.

“Two things that the crowd likes to watch, and wrestlers need to know, is how to take somebody down and how to turn somebody over and get points and pin them,” Iverson said. “There’s the philosophy of taking someone down and letting them go, for more points, but we at Arlington want to be a take-down team. This is a tough league that we’re in, and we’re not going to pin everybody, but we’re sure going to try.”

Knott was the head wrestling coach for Nathan Hale High School in Seattle, where he won seven straight championships from 1984 to 1990, at Lake Washington High School in Kirkland and Bellarmine High School in Tacoma. He has been the Regional Coach of the Year, Coach of the Decade and has been nominated to the Washington State Wrestling Coaches’ Hall of Fame.

“It’s fun to be back in it,” Knott said. “Working with Rick is great. They know they’re not getting a dope when they look at me for coaching.”

Iverson and Knott join assistant coaches Jim Smoots and Gary Niklason, two incumbent Arlington assistant coaches.

Smoots was an All-American wrestler at Biola University and, after coaching for three years in California, was Arlington wrestling’s head coach from 1990 to 2007 and a three-time coach of the year before becoming an assistant. Niklason, who graduated from Arlington in 1981, was second in state for the Eagles his senior year before going on to wrestle at Washington State.

Arlington’s coaching staff also includes Scott Ames and Darryl Berg. Ames, a two-time Oregon high school state champion at Scappoose High, went on to be a wrestling All-American at Clackamas Community College and the University of Oregon before competing in Europe while in the Army where he was a two-time USA/Europe champion in freestyle and Greco wrestling. Berg wrestled at Connell High School and has been coaching club wrestling for the past few years.

The entire coaching staff is very optimistic about the future of the Arlington wrestling program.

“The kids are very responsive. They’re young and green, but that’s what we’re here for,” Iverson said. “By the end of the year, as we approach the district tournament, I think we’ll compete very well.”

Iversen, Knott, Smoots and the rest of the staff are all excited to be working together with Arlington’s talented young wrestlers, including sophomores Connor Gonzales and Bryce Thomas, who went to state last year. They anticipate many members of the Arlington community attending and supporting the Eagle wrestling family in their journey this season.

“We’re going to have a good team, and in the next two or three years I think we’ll be on the Top 10 board at state,” Knott said.


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