By Dennis Glade
Washington Times Herald
Washington had hoped to reach 28 wins during the regular season, but with that goal not reached, the state tournament is now in focus.
The Hatchets finished 19-17 with a second place finish in the Big 8 Conference as they head into Saturday's Southridge sectional.
With the high preseason hopes, WHS coach John Thompson said his team had a tough time finding a constant rhythm with upheaval in their lineup from week to week.
"We had a lot of issues over the year," Thompson said. "Injuries, illness, kids ineligible for certain reasons. We just never had a full lineup throughout the year, and unfortunately that's what caused our results." The Hatchets will fill 13 of the 14 weight classes, with 106 being the one missing. Washington will also be missing John Honaker (285), after the senior underwent knee surgery last week and will miss the rest of the season.
The sectional features Bedford North Lawrence, Crawford County, Forest Park, Jasper, Mitchell, Paoli, Salem, Washington and host school Southridge. Last season Washington sent nine wrestlers to the regional, and one alternate.
"How our individuals have wrestled this season has paid off for where they are seeded," Thompson said. "We have 10 of our 13 wrestlers going into the tournament seeded in the top four of their weight class. If we wrestle to how we are seeded, then we'll send 10 kids to the regional, and that¹s a pretty big accomplishment. That would be a school record." Thompson said it's more important at this juncture of the season to focus on the present and what the team has in front of them then worrying about things they might not have done well in the past.
"Things haven't gone necessarily well as an entire team, but individually we had some success, and I want to make sure we continue that," Thompson said. "We still want to win as a team, and of course we wouldn't have finished second in conference as a team if it weren't for everybody working together, and everybody doing their best. I think at this point, this is the postseason. While it's not necessarily every one for themselves, at the same time they¹re fighting for their chances in their weight class to move on to the next round of the tournament. We have been working very hard the past couple of weeks, and that showed last week at conference, and hopefully it translates over to the sectional." In final sectional preparations, upperclassmen are a valuable asset in passing along wisdom of past success to freshman and sophomores competing for the first time.
"I think it helps quite a bit," Thompson said. "We have some kids that have never been in this situation before and never wrestled in a big tournament like this. It can be nerve wracking coming in as a freshman or sophomore, or even a junior or senior who has never been on varsity and competed in the sectional. We have great leadership on the team. We have kids that have been here, that have wrestled in the sectional and advanced onto the next round for several years. I feel they have been able to communicate that to the kids."