LAKEWOOD – Cougar wrestling coach Tom O’Hara gave his team quite the pep talk recently.
He said if they work hard and prepare for matches the best they can they are “champions” no matter what happens out on the mat.
He also said if they do that and show good character, they can earn a letter in wrestling even if they never win a match.
“We’re the only ones that do that,” he said.
Looking to this season, O’Hara again has a big girls team, led by his daughter, Cassidy, and Olivia Poulton, both of whom went to state last year. He also expects a lot from Torrie Blackwood and Riley Ann Weinberger.
The top wrestlers back on the boys team are Gavin Wright and Brendan McClellan, along with Colton Tusk.
The coach said his team is young with only a few seniors and lots of freshman. He added the team lacks small and big wrestlers.
In basketball, the girls team lost its two top players, but it does return five who saw a lot of playing time. They are more athletic than last year, coach Chris Walster said, but they are a young team with four freshmen on the varsity squad.
Seniors on the squad are Nicole Miller, a three-year lettermen; Riley Malloy; three-point shooter Maliya Ryden; and Shealey Miller, who coach said played as a freshman but wrestled the past two so she should bring needed toughness to the team.
Although new to the team, Walster said Spanish exchange student Miriam Franchella is a polished player. The coach also expects a lot from Jayden Graham and Kaelyn Tupnola.
The boys team also lost a number of standout players, but it still as quite a few familiar faces back, let by Alex Jensen, their all-league player. Others expected back for coach Anthony Wiederkehr’s team are Jackson Schultz, Machai Harris and Alex Coleman.
Lakewood home schedules
Boys basketball: Nov. 28, Stanwood; Dec. 1, Sultan 3:45 p.m., 11, Meridian, 17, Ferndale, 21, Blaine, 28, Zillah; Jan. 10, Nooksack Valley, 12, Friday Harbor, 21, Lynden, 24, Sehome, 31, Lynden Christian.
Girls basketball: Nov. 29, M-P; Dec. 1, Sultan 2:45 p.m., 6, Cascade, 13, Burlington-Edison, 27-28, Cougar Tournament; Jan. 3, Mount Baker, 8, S-W, 15, Anacortes, 18, Bellingham, and 29, Squalicum.
Boys wrestling: Jan. 9, Lynden 6 p.m. and Blaine 7 p.m., 16, Ferndale, 23, S-W.
Girls wrestling: Jan. 9, 6-team Scramble 6 p.m.