The face of Sequim wrestling is changing.
Following two winless team duel-meet seasons, the Wolves look to power their way back up the Olympic League and state rankings with 39 athletes. The biggest change for Sequim is adding nine girl wrestlers, mostly freshmen, who moved up from Sequim Middle School.
Assistant coach Bill Schroepfer credits the increased interest in the success of returning girl wrestlers Kaylee Ditlefsen and Sophia Cornell, both seniors, and sophomore Alma Mendoza.
“Some of these girls wrestled with Alma in middle school and saw her success,” he said. “They also see that this isn’t a gross sport and that girls like Kaylee, who was a cheerleader, does it.”
Cornell and Ditlefsen were Sequim’s only representatives at state last year with Ditlefsen placing eighth at 130 pounds and Cornell (106) going 0-2.
Head coach Charles Drabek said he also attributes the growth of the team to former Sequim Middle School teacher Anthony Gowdy promoting wrestling to students.
“Many girls thought they could do it,” he said. “And now there are girls who think they can tear their opponents heads off, too.”
Ditlefsen, one of three returning seniors, said she’s coming back this season with more experience following two trips to state.
“At state last year I wasn’t as ready but now I’m much more mentally prepared. I know my stuff,” she said.
Through the week, she strength trains in the early mornings and already has her eyes set on a collegiate wrestling career at Warner Pacific College in Portland, Ore.
Looking ahead, Ditlefsen said her returning teammates Cornell and Mendoza are primed to have strong seasons.
“They are looking for big results this year,” she said.
On the season, Sequim will travel to five all-girl tournaments and they’ll seek out tough teams like Kelso who they may see at state, Schroepfer said. On the season, he anticipates at least four to five girls could make it up to regionals or further.
Drabek said the new girls could surprise their opponents.
“These freshmen girls, I’m impressed with their fire,” he said. “They seem willing to put forth the effort.”
There’s a lot of improving talent with the Wolves’ boys team, too, coaches say.
In the summer, the team held open gym twice a week and several wrestlers came consistently like Michael Latimer who wrestles at 220 pounds.
Wrestlers like Latimer have improved a lot, Schroepfer said, along with Grant Pierson, Nathan Allison and Kelvin Solis-Villasenor.
Last year, graduated senior Royhon Agostine and Alison (220), earned spots as alternates for the 2A regional tournament.
“The region we have to go through is tough but we’ll be solid and able to compete in duels,” Drabek said.
Schroepfer said at least seven boys have a good shot of advancing to regionals or further.
“This is the most focused team I’ve seen in the last five years,” he said. “When I started there were quite a few state placers who helped create a culture but they graduated and it changed into us begging people to wrestle. But now practices run on time because no one is goofing around or lagging behind.”
He said it’ll be tough for the Wolves to go from the bottom to the top but he predicts them being in the middle to upper part of the Olympic League.
A new cycle of wrestlers will help fill in the middle-upper weight classes, Drabek said.
Freshmen Ben Newell and Jaimie Schroepfer will wrestle the lower varsity weight classes.
“We’re throwing them to the wolves but many other schools put their underclassmen in that weight, too,” Schroepfer said.
This year, the team brings back Ethan Hinton, Sequim 2009 graduate and former state finisher, as an assistant coach.
Sequim begins its season on Dec. 2 in Port Angeles for its Wrestlerama Jamboree.
Sequim High School wrestling preview
Coaches: Head coach Charles Drabek (2nd year), assistants Bill Schroepfer, Chad Aubin, Ethan Hinton
2014-2015 record: 0-8, 2 athletes to state 2A girls tournament
Returning players: Seniors Sophia Cornell, Kaylee Ditlefsen, Brady Young; juniors: Nathan Allison, Nick Barrett, Christian Benson, Bailey Hodgson, Michael Latimer, Kevyn Ward; sophomores: Shaun Jones, Alma Mendoza, Dylan Perreira, Grant Pierson, Kelvin Solis-Villasenor, Sven Wiker.
Key matches: Key matches: Dec. 2 at Port Angeles’ Wrestlerama Jamboree, Dec. 10 vs. Klahowya, Dec. 19-20 at Hammerhead Invite at Kitsap Sun Pavilion, Jan. 22 vs. Kingston, Jan. 24 – All Comers JV Tournament, Sequim