On Saturday, the Montesano High School wrestling team got its first taste of competition this season in Port Townsend. The Bulldogs competed in a dual tournament that was much like a scrimmage between six schools with each team competing in five dual matches but without team scores being kept. Some of the wrestlers for Montesano even wrestled for other teams on occasion just to make sure each wrestler could get as many matches as possible.
“It is just about getting matches and there is some good competition,” coach Jeff Klinger said. “As a team we won way more than we lost. It was a great start for us. I was really proud of our kids performances.”
With their first dual postponed due to the weather, the Bulldogs are getting a later start than most teams. Klinger said the trip to Port Townsend helped Montesano make up for lost time in the wrestling room by allowing each wrestler to have at least two matches and with some getting as many as five matches.
“A lot of other teams have been wrestling and they have had matches already, but that was our first tournament and to have every kid get so many matches is huge,” Klinger said. “It is good for our kids to get the wrestling. We have a lot of young kids and a lot of them would be out in two at a tournament but with this you can try to match them up. We are just proud of seeing them try to work the stuff that we are working in our room.”
While the Bulldogs are a young team this year, Klinger said the freshman and sophomores on the team have a lot of experience on the mat. Freshman Jacob Ellefson and Austin Cain each who each undefeated at the dual tournament Saturday both have experience competiting at the national level. This summer Ellefson took second and Cain took third at the Grec- Roman National Championship in their respective weight classes. Montesano will blend the experience of the freshman with junior Anthony Loutham, who was the only Bulldog to place at state, and other state participants such as sophomore Kylar Prante. Prante won four matches on Saturday and said there is a different attitude in the Bulldog wrestling room this season.
“There is a lot more intensity in practice this year,” Prante said. “Last year we were just slow and this year we are fast and quick and everybody wants to compete. We have such a young team this year. We should be a good team this year and next year.”
Junior Jacob Izatt finished the tournament with a record of 3-1 and freshman Tyler Izatt posted a record of 2-1 on the day.
The Bulldogs will make up for lost time this week with the Montesano Invitational Saturday after duals on Tuesday and Wednesday. Klinger said the four competitions in eight days will be a tough way for the Bulldogs to start the season, but he feels his team is up for the challenge and their hard work has already begun to pay off for some of them.
“We have 22 kids that are working very hard,” Klinger said. “I’m very happy with where we are with our conditioning so far and as long as the kids keep working hard I think they are going to have a lot of success.”