For the 2018-2019 season, Sequim High wrestling is going a bit retro — with hope that experienced hands can revive a struggling program.
Rich Hay — a longtime assistant, middle school coach and former SHS varsity leader — joins Erik Wiker to co-coach the Wolves this winter, along with a host of assistant coaches that includes former varsity head coach Steve Chinn.
“We’re all committed to doing a big rebuild,” Hay said.
SHS’s wrestling program has seen its share of ups and downs in recent years, from winless campaigns in 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 to 5-3 and 6-2 marks the seasons following.
But last year’s squad finished without a league meet win and ended with just a handful of boys on the roster, Hay noted, and most of them went on to graduate. There are more experienced girls on this year’s team than boys, Hay said.
One of the goals of the coaching staff that takes over after two years under Bill Schroepfer is to reconnect programs between Sequim Middle School and Sequim High School, and figure SMS’s wrestling coaches — Hay and Wiker, for about the past 15 years — are good fits for that transition.
“We’ve already seen the benefit of that (connection),” Wiker said. “They’re not as intimidated; they know how we’re going to be (as coaches). It’s easier, recruiting-wise.”
“There’s just no bridge (from middle school to high school),” Hay said. “Very few kids would make the jump.”
Wiker, who was in the midst of earning a degree on top of his full-time teaching job and his nearly year-round SHS varsity football coaching position, said he had some trepidation in taking on another coaching job. But when Hay said he’d sign on to co-coach, Wiker agreed.
“It’s how well we’ve worked together that’s made it possible,” Wiker said.
Hay can oversee practice plans and overall instruction while Wiker can help promote the program within the school, Hay said.
When the teams have to split — boys wrestling at one tournament, the girls at another — Wiker will head up the boys squad and Hay will oversee the girls. But many of the tournaments they are scheduling, Hay said, are combined tourneys so they won’t have to split the coaching responsibilities too much.
They’ll also have plenty of help. Assistants include several recent grads from Dakota Hinton and Michael Latimer on the boys’ side to Aylee Bennett and Jillian Hutchison-Blouin on the girls’.
The assistant staff also includes Charles Drabek, a former SHS wrestling head coach, and Chinn, who was Sequim High’s head wrestling coach in 1988 when Hay joined the program as an assistant.
“It’s one coach for about every four kids (here); they’ll get some learning,” Chinn said at a recent practice.
Hay said it may take two or three years for SHS’s boys wrestling to develop into a strong program — sooner for the girls, he said — but having the link established between the schools is a good place to start.
“We (will) get that pipeline going; that’s the lifeline of the thing,” Hay said.