After a rebuilding year in 2018-2019, the Wolves’ wrestling crew is back on the mats with a smaller crew and another coaching change.
After splitting coaching responsibilities with longtime community coach Rich Hay last season, Sequim High teacher Erik Wiker takes the reigns full time in 2019-2020.
Wiker will go into the season with a roster depleted to the tune of just eight returning wrestlers and 24 wrestlers overall — down from a roster of 44 last season.
Wiker said the team lost a good amount of experience to graduation while a number of others haven’t turned out, be it for academic reasons or they are specializing in other sports.
“The advantage (of a smaller team) is more one-on-one coaching,” he said. “With fifteen, twenty kids, there’s way more mentorship.”
Sequim’s lone district and state tourney returnee is Aleah Chen, an all-league grappler at 145 pounds.
Boys returnees include a trio of juniors — Zachery Koch, Truman Nestor and Trevin Oakes along with five returning girls: senior Alexi Rampp-Taft, juniors Chen, Emily Dodson and Kaydence Hillard, and soph Petra Bernsten.
Wiker expects the returning wrestlers, Koch in particular, to have strong seasons, along with a number of freshmen such as Samuel Fitzgerald-Hagen and Burke Henderson.
The Wolves went 0-6 last season. They struggled to compete in regular matches and wound up forfeiting a match against rival Port Angeles in favor of setting up competitive matches between athletes with similar skill levels.
Wiker said this year’s club may look for tourneys and dual meets where they can match similar skill levels for the rebuilding squad.
“We’ll try to eliminate mismatches as much as we can,” he said.
Sequim saw its first action of 2019-2020 with the preseason Wrestle-Rama Jamboree at Port Angeles on Dec. 4.
Sequim is at Klahowya for a double-dual against Port Angeles and the host Eagles in Silverdale on Dec. 12 and compete at the Larry Brown Tournament in Fife on Dec. 14.
This season, Sequim hosts just one Olympic League double dual meet: Jan. 23, against Port Townsend and Olympic.