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Arlington wrestling building a team-first approach
ARLINGTON — Many of the upperclassmen on the Eagles wrestling team had the unique opportunity of traveling to Germany for three weeks in July to get some culture, both from the locals and international wrestlers.
“It was a good experience for them,” said second-year Eagles wrestling coach Shaun Williams. “They really came together and started becoming a team.”
A difficult concept to grasp for a team in a traditionally individualistic sport, Williams stressed its importance during the trip, where his wrestlers practiced three times a day.
“When they start to realize that their actions affect their teammates — when that clicks — everything falls into place,” he said.
The South African native who worked as an assistant coach at Central Valley in Spokane before coming to Arlington brought a serious, focused coaching style last season, and clear outline for the team’s goals, with this year being a team-first atmosphere. If that takes leaders to instill such a mentality, Williams said he is not lacking, as he returns seven seniors and 11 of his 14 varsity grapplers.
“Age-wise, we are experienced,” Williams said. “But a lot of these kids have only been wrestling a couple years — but they are picking it up quickly.”
As was the case last season with a pair of individual runner-up finishes at the 4A Mat Classic, the Eagles will be strong in the heavier weight classes.
“A lot of my lighter kids grew over the summer because of all their training,” Williams said about his strength in the larger classes.
Last season, Chris Myers lost in the 160-pound championship match and Bryant Dickerson was two points from a state title in the heavyweight class.
Williams pointed out the abilities of Nathan Short (145 pounds) and sophomore Blake McPherson (152) as a pair of his lighter standouts. Following them will be seniors Seth Henderson (171) and Josh Mani (189), Brady Quitin (215) and heavyweight Ben Torve.
As usual, the Wesco Conference should be in the control of Lake Stevens, which won the 2009 4A state title. Having a top program so close is an advantage, Williams said.
“Lake Stevens is right around the corner, and they keep pushing us along,” he said. “This is one of the better conferences in the state and it makes us stronger to go against them.”