Sports

Arlington wrestlers practice skills year-round

ARLINGTON — A few rays of sunshine occasionally break through the overcast Washington skies as Arlington athletes compete outside, hoping the rain holds off.

But a few hundred feet away from John C. Larson Stadium, where a track and field meet is taking place, just over a dozen athletes remain indoors under artificial lighting. They’re working on wrestling moves, picking up where the wrestling season left off with the state tournament in late February.

Many of the early exercises seem intended to build strength, as wrestlers of all ages — mostly boys, although a couple of girls come in as practice goes on — pair off by approximate weight. They take turns picking one another up and spinning them 360 degrees windmill-style. Another exercise requires a little more teamwork. One wrestler picks up the other and the two work together to move the lifted partner around the standing partner’s waist.

More wrestlers trickle in for practice as their spring sports wrap up, swelling the ranks to about 25 kids.

About half of the wrestlers are high school-aged. Others are from Arlington’s middle school wrestling team and still younger ones have participated in Arlington youth wrestling in the past.

This freestyle wrestling club is led by high school coach Shaun Williams, who just wrapped up his first season as Arlington’s head coach.

Freestyle wrestling differs from the high school sport, but the skills transfer. Freestyle wrestling is much more aerobic, as athletes spend much more time in the neutral position, often scoring from there. Officials will bring wrestlers up off of the mat if they don’t score within 10 to 15 seconds of going down.

“The rules are different, so your strategy is different,” he said.

While Arlington has offered youth wrestling, Williams is putting his own stamp on the program. Year-round youth wrestling programs have been the foundation of successful high school wrestling teams like Lake Stevens and this freestyle club is intended to give area wrestlers of all ages the opportunity to work on their skills.

Practice began right after the state tournament, but wrestlers are still encouraged to join. The club has practices four days a week until the last week of school. This summer, they’ll attend wrestling camp at North Idaho College — where Williams competed and coached — and then travel to Germany for three weeks.

In Germany, they’ll see teams from Germany, China and Saxony.

“For me, it’s all about team spirit,” Williams said of team trips. “When we go away together ... we learn more about each other.”

Wrestlers who are interested in joining can call 360-722-2171 or e-mail arlingtonwrestling@gmail.com for information, or show up at practice, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 5:30 to 7 p.m. in the Arlington wrestling room.

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