Preview: Wildcat wrestling starts new era

Mount Si’s wrestling program may have a new leader this season, but for the wrestlers, the goals haven’t changed.

The Wildcats’ new coach is no stranger to Valley wrestling circles, as Tony Schlotfeldt, a veteran local middle school coach, takes over for Jeff Newcomer, who resigned earlier this year to pursue other business opportunities.

Senior Ben Larson, who will be wrestling at the 135 pound weight class this season, says the transition has been smooth.

“I haven’t really noticed a difference, and I had Newcomer for three years,” Larson said. “Plus, I know a lot of these kids are from Chief Kanim, so they had Mr. Schlotfeldt down at Chief Kanim. For them it’s just another year of wrestling with him, like nothing’s changed.”

Schlotfeldt, who coached at Fall City’s Chief Kanim Middle School for the last several years, expects a lot out of his team.

“They know that I’m all about hard work — I think every wrestling coach is,” said Schlotfedlt, whose practice sessions reflect his expectations. “Our practices are very technical and they get a lot of conditioning through drilling.”

Sophomore Cody Botten, who went to state last year and is expected to wrestle this year at 125 pounds, also noted a smooth coaching change.

“I like both coaches a lot,” he said. “Their styles are very similar. Both of them are very easy to work with and are great coaches.”

Among other top returning athletes are seniors Andrew Sypher (119), Trey Botten (140) and Vince Vasquez (152), junior Dan Peterson (125), and sophomore Aaron Peterson (130). Cody Botten and his teammates are ready to grapple.

“We’re young, but we’re definitely going to go out there and give it our all,” he said.

Larson also expects a solid season.

“We’re going to have a good, disciplined, hard working team,” he said. “We’re going to have good technique, good conditioning.”

Schlotfeldt will be assisted this season by Brad Rorem, also in his first year. Rorem expects that Mercer Island and Liberty could be the teams to beat in Kingco 3A, but he said fans should watch 4A Issaquah within the divisional standings. Mount Si in wrestling is in a combined 3A/4A division.

“It’s an advantage from moving up to the middle school that I have a pretty solid rapport with the middle school coaches right now,” Schlotfeldt said. “They’re going to buy into the kind of system of moves, techniques and terminology that I’m using.”

One thing that will remain the same, regardless of who is coaching, is the standards for athletes off the mat.

“We’re really making a big push to hold true to the Mount Si wrestling tradition that wrestlers are solid outside of the mat, too,” Schlotfeldt said. “They’re good members in the community and good in the classroom as well.”

“Expect a good season and for each kid to give their very best,” Botten said.

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