Successful year for Washington wrestling
Washington wrestling coach Brent Van Weelden has a message for fans who may be disappointed their favorite season has ended.
The 2016-17 season was a success.
“How can you not be (pleased)?” he said. “We got fourth at state duals and we had four medals at the state tournament.
“There’s not a lot of teams that can say that. Do I wish they could have been state champs or medaled higher? Sure, but let’s not be greedy, and enjoy what they’ve accomplished.”
The Demons ended the year with a 29-3 overall dual record and finished tied for 11th at the traditional state meet.
And there are many rays of sunshine for fans to treasure until next winter.
Van Weelden said the year ended better than he thought it would at the beginning.
“At the start of the year, everybody always says ‘you guys should be pretty good and you have a lot of seniors’ and things like that,” Van Weelden said.
“I’m always a little bit apprehensive to say, ‘Yes, we should be pretty good or we should do this or we should do that’ because I don’t want to jinx us.
“But, going into the season I thought if everything goes well, we don’t have people get hurt and everything falls into place, we could probably get back to state duals again and maybe do better than last year.
“I thought we should take a fair amount of kids to state this year. We ended up taking five. I thought we could get a few more, but we didn’t. Those that went I thought could medal.”
Like all wrestling coaches, however, Van Weelden was not completely satisfied.
“Did the team meet the expectations I thought they could? I think so,” he said.
“As a coach, you always think you can do a little bit better here or there. But overall, I think the team met the expectations the coaching staff thought they could achieve.”
As far as surprises, there weren’t any, Van Weelden said.
“I had confidence in all the guys,” he said. “As far as some of the individual wrestlers, I was proud of Walker Ikerd getting down to 106.
“It was a challenge for him. We needed to fill that weight class with an experienced wrestler. We asked Walker to fill that spot and he did.
“We asked freshman Dillan Sanders to get down to 120 and he did. Those two sacrificed themselves a little bit for the team to fill some weights that we needed to be successful.
“Tanner Murphy and Collin Murphy made tremendous progress from last year. Mitchell Huisenga at heavyweight did as well. All of them came a long way from last year.”
The seniors, Van Weelden said, were strong.
“They did what they were supposed to do: they led the team,” he said. “They were in the finals of a lot of tournaments, scoring a lot of team points at duals and just really doing what we thought they could do.
“We knew, as coaches, in order for our team to be successful, those guys had to be. Week in and week out when we put them on the mat, they gave us their best and really that’s all I could ask.”
Van Weelden will miss those seniors and their leadership.
“Those guys have been in the program since the second grade,” he said. “They’ve won more than 100 duals and 700 matches as a group. They’ve done a lot. There are some holes there that need to be filled and it’s one of those things where you only get them for four years and the next group comes in. They are all good kids.
“As a group, five were state qualifiers and three were medalists. That’s tough to fill those holes when you lose kids of that caliber.”
There is plenty of time to fill those positions, however.
“The stable’s not empty, so to speak,” Van Weelden said. “We’re going to need some kids to step up, especially in those middle weights.
“We have a lot of time to fill those spots. We will get them in the weight room, get them to camps, get them some more mat time. That will be the big thing.”