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Strong traditions will support a strong squad
The Mount Si Wildcat wrestling team is back in 2005 to continue its strong tradition that has developed over the past several years.
Coach Jeff Newcomer leads the Wildcats into battle once again this season. His assistant coach, Kyle Jacobson, has been the assistant for three years now and was interviewed by the Valley Record for this story in Newcomer's absence.
Jacobson says the Wildcats are about more than just winning matches.
"We want to produce a team that works really hard, and one of our biggest issues is respect for the other teams, coaches and referees, and we think the sportsmanship award is really important, and we want to get a hard-working team out here, and we want to do real well," Jacobson said.
There is only one senior, Seth Merritt, on varsity this year; Jacobson expects Merritt either to be at the 171-pound weight class or at 189.
Juniors dominate this year's roster, led by 125-pound Joe Taklo and 112-pound Kyle Heath. Taklo says team chemistry is a key element to this year's squad.
"I believe that we're going to have a really good team," Taklo said. "Most of us are juniors, and I think we've come together more as a family than a team, and we'll pull each other through anything."
Leadership is an important aspect of their team unity.
"I do believe that leadership is a key point because some of the kids out here like to listen," Taklo said. "I personally like to get the team pumped up as a leader."
There are three freshmen to watch: Ryan Makela at 103 pounds, Stew Halleck at 130 pounds and Justin Sumner at 119 pounds.
Heath is excited about what lies ahead.
"I'm expecting a lot from the team," he said. "I think we're going to have a really good year. We've just got to work really hard and not get too confident."
Jacobson expects Mercer Island, Newport and Issaquah to be the main challenges for Mount Si this season in Kingco 3A. An even bigger challenge awaits the Wildcats if they advance to postseason; Jacobson told the Valley Record that Mount Si will wrestle in the same regional at state as Sedro Woolley, and the Cubs have historically had a very strong wrestling program. As for the conference, Taklo is confident about his team's chances against the Islanders.
"For the past two years, we've lost Kingco to Mercer Island, and this year, I know we're just going to dominate them," Taklo said. He added that the Eagles, though, are "going to be our main threat."
The new $75 sports fee has not been a problem for wrestling.
"I don't think the fee affected us much; you know, we have just about as big a team as last year," Jacobson said. "I think the fee is not that big a deal because the kids who are struggling to pay, I think the school helps out, so I don't think that's been a big deal, no."
Heath thinks this team has a chance to go far.
"I think we have a pretty good shot at winning Kingco, and have a pretty good shot placing high in state, so we should do good this year," he said.