Sports

Mat men start over

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Coach Len Borchers knew it was coming, thumbing through his lineup at last season's state tournament.

Of the Wolves' eight state athletes, all but one were headed to graduation.

Nine months later, Sequim's coach just shrugs.

"We're real young," he says, understatedly.

But with 38 wrestlers on the roster, it isn't for lack of interest. This year's version of the Wolves sees 11 freshmen and more than a dozen others who are hitting the mats for the first time.

"We've picked up a fair number of juniors and seniors who are first-year wrestlers," Borchers said.

Revamping Sequim's formerly senior-heavy roster starts and ends (quite literally) with heavyweight Thomas Gallagher. The 6-foot 5-inch, 310-pound behemoth made good on the promise he showed since he was a freshman. In 2008-2009, Gallagher was nearly unstoppable, winning titles at the Bainbridge Island Invite and subdistrict tourneys. After a third-place finish at districts, Gallagher wrestled his way into the semifinals at state before slipping to a sixth-place finish.

Last week saw Gallagher running up Bell Hill, trying to lose the 30-some pounds required to make weight.

Also back for Sequim are three wrestlers who made strong showings in last spring's postseason including lightweight Austin Middleton, a sophomore; middleweight Kenny Henning, also a sophomore; and senior middleweight Mike Bereiter.

"These guys saw a lot of action (last season)," Borchers says. "We've got most of our weight covered."

Other top returning wrestlers include Dakota Hinton, Zach Sisco and Clay Charley.

The Wolves got a boost from Port Angeles with the transfer of middleweight Joe Pizzuto.

Borchers says there are some good prospects among first-year wrestlers, most notably Derek Fruin, Kenny Griffith and Nick Moroles.

"I'm impressed with the active-ness (of these new wrestlers)," Borchers says. "I'm going real slow with the basics. Once we get solid fundamentals in place, they'll get there."

Sequim's top competition is likely to come from last year's stronger squads such as North Mason, Klahowya and - who else - rival Port Angeles.

Even though Sequim's lineup is young, Borchers notes that most teams in the league are doing the same kind of rebuilding.

Sequim lost seven state tourney wrestlers including Joe Hutchison and Ethan Hinton, who are both on the roster at Southern Oregon University.

The Wolves open the 2009-2010 campaign on Dec. 10, hosting the North Kitsap Vikings.



Reach Michael Dashiell at miked@sequimgazette.com.



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