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Sports Preview | Mount Si wrestling leaders see the big picture in 2011
Not many of the foes that he'll face across the mat will come much bigger than six-foot-three Mount Si senior Josh Mitchell.
Sweating in the Mount Si mat room, the D-1 Oregon State signee is switching gears from lineman to heavyweight wrestler, aiming to defend his 285-lb state wrestling title.
Football is plenty physical, but "this takes a lot of strength and tons of cardio," the senior said.
He returned on the encouragement of family members and Mount Si wrestlers, who insisted the team wouldn't be the same without him.
He'll be a leader, pushing everyone to reach their goals.
"We want to send as many guys to league to qualify," Mitchell said, then keep moving on to regionals and state.
Why wrestle? "Being able to look at the guy across the mat, and knowing you can beat him," Mitchell.
He tells younger wrestlers to keep going. He didn't have many wins his first year, but didn't give up.
"Keep going, it's only going to make you getter. You've just got to stay on your feet. In the long run, it'll pay off."
Coach Tony Schlotfeldt is expecting big things from Mitchell and the rest of the team, which includes fellow seniors Aaron Peterson and AJ Brevick.
Brevick brings state experience in the 160-class, Peterson will be firing away at the 145 class, and Junior Bruce Stewart is also looking tough in that weight class. In matches, they'll decide who represents Mount Si on the mat.
John Farmer is a confident, hardworking wrester at the 182 class.
"He's a great wrestler on his feet," Schlotfeldt said. "This year, we're working on his mat wrestling.
In the lighter classes, look for Riley Abscher and Gunnar Harrison to hold things down.
Harrison is a tough North Bend kid from Twin Falls Middle Schools. While the transition from middle school to high school can be tough, with more practices, more matches and a longer haul over the season, the coach said Harrison should be a competitor.
As for the competition, the region is tough, with Mercer Island dominating, but Mount Si is hoping to turn the corner after taking third in league last season.
The Wildcats had a good turnout, including plenty of freshmen bringing experience from youth programs.
The coach came to the high school from Chief Kanim Middle School, and a number of his former middle school proteges are now high school juniors.
"We're moving that core we start with, getting into the upper class realm," the coach said. "We're tying to establish that, get some good quality moving up."
Brevick, like Mitchell, has learned that there could always be someone bigger or faster than you.
"Watch and learn," he says. "Work hard, it pays off." Young wrestlers need to learn to chain up moves, work hard and push themselves in the third round.
"It's the best sport there is," Brevick said. "If anything happens, it's because you did it. The other guy could be a champ wrestler, but you can beat him because of your mentality, because you worked hard."