Sequim co-coaches Rich Hay and Erik Wiker know they have their work cut out for them as they prep this year’s SHS wrestling squad for tournament and league competition.
Hay and Wiker, who have shared coaching responsibilities at Sequim Middle School for years, are back on the mats this winter to oversee a program that is growing in numbers but well short on experience.
This year’s crew lost its most experienced grapplers to graduation — including state qualifiers Ben Newell and Jamie Schroepfer and regional qualifier Chris Puksta for the boys, plus Olympic League co-MVP Kiara Pierson on the girls’ side — and those who do return are mostly sophomores.
“We are very young, very inexperienced,” said Hay, an assistant for Steve Chinn for several years and one-time (1991-1992) varsity coach.
“We (coaches) are all committed to do a big rebuild.”
The Wolves return just 12 wrestlers on their 44-athlete roster, with 19 incoming freshmen and 17 sophomores in the group.
Back are regional qualifiers Logan Laxson and Noah Eveland, both sophomores, to lead the Sequim boys.
“Even our returners are young,” Wiker noted.
But the strength of this year’s team may be with the SHS girls who see more than a half-dozen grapplers return to the mats. That includes senior Madison Uranga and sophomore Aleah Chen, who both qualified for regionals last season. Chen went 15-12 last season.
Also back on the girls side are Amara Sayer (15 wins in 2017-2018), Emily Dodson (12 wins), Kaydence Hillard (nine wins) and Alexi Rampp-Taft (seven wins).
“We’ve got a good group of kids,” Hay said.
The Wolves open the season on Nov. 28 at Port Angeles’ Wrestle-rama before traveling to Chief Sealth’s Return of the Seahawk tournament in Seattle on Dec. 1.
“That should be a good test for us,” Hay said of the 27-team Seahawk tournament.
Sequim is at Bremerton on Dec. 4 for the Wolves’ first league dual meet and at a tourney in Fife on Dec. 8 before their first home match, a Dec. 13 league meet against North Kitsap.