When it comes to wrestling recruitment, the word around Sumner High School these days is that when it finally rained…it poured.
“Believe me, I am not complaining. With any luck we won’t have anywhere near the forfeits we suffered through last season,” said Spartan coach Jeremy Horsley, who announced that nearly 60 hopefuls answered the call, experienced or otherwise.
“We’re going to be pretty green, as about 50 percent of the guys that tried out are freshmen, but they are eager to learn and the competition for the top dog in most of the weight classes will be fierce,” Horsley said. “The wrestle-offs for starters at each weight usually equate to having a better team, because the cream always rises to the top.”
It wasn’t as though Sumner had a bad team last year. The Spartans had five wrestlers advance to the state championships in Tacoma and the crew finished 14th.
The majority of the Spartan mat men who excelled at state have graduated, however, first and foremost being heavyweight Victor Ognoskie, who earned third-place laurels in last year’s big show. Also lost to graduation were Eric Swanson, Jake Grant and Jordan Hidalgo, but there should be enough of a senior presence remaining to furnish a guiding nucleus.
A few of those returning from the 2007 campaign will be Colby Grant, wrestling at 171 pounds, Colin Fielding at 189 and Keiffer Comstock, who will be rejoining the squad this year as a senior at 215 pounds, after a one-season sabatical during which he played hockey.
Meanwhile, the lightest and heaviest weights, 103 and 285, will be filled by a pair of freshmen in Curtis Downing and Dwayne Tyner, respectively. Things are still a bit sketchy at the other lighter weights, but Tyler Wooding will be returning for his senior outing at 125 pounds, where he finished sixth in state last year. A new face at 130 pounds is senior Italian exchange student Raffaele Ghisv, who played professional volleyball in Italy and who Horsley noted, has been “tough as nails in the first week of turnouts, despite never having wrestled before.”
The 135-pound spot is yet to be determined, but Phillip Ramirez may be the man at 140 pounds, with freshman Jared Schliesman being the closest contender at 145. Sophomore Tyler Hidalgo, who wrestled at 119 last year, grew enough during the offseason to have jumped five weight classifications and is being penciled in at 152 pounds.
“I really feel as though we will be more competitive this season without all the forfeits. Those just killed us last year,” Horsley said.
Sumner’s league opener is at 7 p.m. Thursday when the Spartans host White River. Sumner will see the Hornet wrestlers again Saturday at the White River Classic, which is expected to draw a noteworthy field. Just a few of the invitations that went out were to Auburn Mountainview, Enumclaw and Yelm.
“There will be a learning curve for Sumner this year and this will provide a benchmark for our young wrestlers to kind of show them where they are skill-wise and let them know what they still have to be trained on,” Horsley said.
Reach John Leggett at jleggett@courierherald,com or 360-802-8207.