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November 24, 2012

Hatchets ready to grapple

LOOGOOTEE — The Washington wrestling team achieved great success last season, but they can do better.

The 2011-12 season saw the Hatchets finish with a 28-7 record, and a second place finish in the Big 8 conference, but head coach John Thompson thinks the team still can achieve so much more.

Last year’s team sent 10 individual wrestlers to the regional, and six of those advanced to semi-state.

As they prepare for today’s season opener, Thompson is attempting to figure out how to replace the five seniors, three of which were starters that were lost to graduation.

“We had a lot of good leadership from that group of seniors,” Thompson said.

“The ones that were starters, all three of them were semistate qualifiers, so it would be really hard to replace. We do have some good talent coming up behind them, we’re younger but we do have some experience.”

Thompson will lean on his four team captains for leadership from junior Ritchie Osha (145), and seniors Levi Graber (120), Aaron Cissel (182) and John Honaker (285). Cissell is a two-time semi-state qualifier and sectional champion, he was the Big 8 conference champion a year ago, and will enter the season ranked No. 15 in the state. Graber and Honaker reached semi-state last season, but both fell one match short of the state finals.

With the talent that Thompson lost, he will be expecting others to step up and pick up the slack. Thompson has his eyes on two wrestlers he expects to make a jump in production this season. One of those is Ritchie Osha, who reached the regional last season. Thompson said Osha has vastly improved from last season, and he’s the most natural wrestler for the Hatchets.

“One that I really expect to make a big jump is Edrwin Revolorio at 195,” Thompson said.

“He was JV for most of the year last season, behind Taylor Smith who was a semi-state qualifier. Now with Edwin getting a chance as a full-time starter. I expect him to have almost the same type of season. He’s very, very strong, a stubborn type of wrestler. He’s hard to handle.”

As much success that Washington enjoyed last year, Thompson is still very hungry and he expects his talented roster to come and work hard each and every day.

“Considering that we have 11 starters coming back from last year, the expectations are pretty high,” Thompson said.

“Our number are down this year, but that just means we have to keep everybody healthy, because we don’t have as much depth as we’ve had in past years.  The talent that we have is pretty deep. Everybody that we have is pretty good quality.”

One of the important aspects of training in the offseason for the Hatchets is having a high level of conditioning; Thompson believes this is imperative to having success throughout the season.

“If you can’t go an entire wrestling match, the whole six minutes, and you’re out of breath after the first period it’s a bad thing,” Thompson said. “If you’re not in good shape, you’re not going to be able to compete against the more quality wrestlers. Once your wind starts going then your strength starts to go, and then it falls apart from there.”

Thompson said that while the team has extremely high expectations, he hasn’t set out any specific goals are achievable.

“We want to improve on what we did last year,” Thompson said.

“Last year we had 28 dual meet wins, this year we obviously want to have more than that. We finished second in the conference last year; we would like to win that this year. We finished third in the sectional; we’d like to finish in the top two. We’d like to send more than 10 to the regional and more than six to semistate.”

Thompson has a simple message for every member of his team on how to improve on what they did last season, and it begins with each wrestler giving the most effort they can give.

“If you thought you did a good job last year then you need to try harder,” Thompson said.

“If what you did last year was at this level then we need to kick it up a notch. It’s more mental than it is physical, where they have it in them, you just have to kick start it.”

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