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Lakewood wrestling team young in age and youthful in spirit
LAKEWOOD Fifth-year coach Tom OHara seems perfect for the role of a high school wrestling coach his short, stout and tattoo covered muscular body looks intimidating to any outsider.
The Lakewood High School woodshop and drafting teacher was an assistant coach at neighboring Arlington High School for six years before heading west.
Once you begin talking to the educator and coach you will quickly learn that his intimidating exterior is a shell for a genuine guy.
Close to 30 Cougar grapplers turned out for the 2006-07 team, which is about a half dozen less than normal, according to OHara.
We have four upperclassmen with previous wrestling experience, so needless to say were pretty young this year, he said.
He joked that the team has a multi-cultural theme to it with two exchange students on the squad from Italy and Germany.
Were young and were green, he said. This years team includes five female wrestlers.
This is the first year that the Washington Interscholastic Athletic Association has formally recognized girls wrestling, and they will have a handful of their own tournaments this season.
Freshman Keely Caldwell compiled a 9-3 record at Lakewood Middle School last year and has her sights set on the Mat Classic state tournament.
Wrestling is in my family, she said. She has three brothers who are all former grapplers and Nic battled to a sixth-place finish his junior year.
Running around slick and sweaty mats in the commons area of LHS, the team gathered in a circle and did a number of calisthenics between drills.
Be the best. Lets go. Lets go, OHara encouraged each and every one.
The friendly coach said after the wins and losses, its all about the end result.
First of all, I want them better people in addition to better wrestlers and secondly the end result depends on how much we improve throughout the year.
The team will be looking to captains Steve Edmonds, senior, and junior Aaron Leonard for success this year.
Edmonds, who will be competing in the 125-lb. division, came in eight-place in the state his freshman year and fifth-place his sophomore year but didnt place last year.
OHara said senior Robert Tucksen and junior Andrew Priest should also have a positive impact on the Cougars.
The Cougars open their season at home Thursday, Nov. 30 to face the Lake Stevens junior varsity and c-teams.
Matches begin at 6 p.m.