As December came to a close, Gonzaga Prep’s wrestling team was unbeaten in dual competition, alone in first place in the Greater Spokane League and the winner of two invitational tournaments.
“If the seasons ended at Christmas,” said Bullpups coach Phil McLean. “We’d be really happy.”
Now, at the midpoint of the league season, reality sets in. Tonight, the Bullpups begin the most arduous part of their schedule with a match at Mead.
“This match means everything if we wish to earn a league title,” he said. “Mead gets better after Christmas.”
His point was evident at last weekend’s Tournament of Champions at Mead, where the runner-up Panthers had seven finalists and three champions.
Tonight’s meet will likely be decided in the upper five weight classes, where Bullpups wrestlers have a combined 12-3 record in what are considered Panther strengths.
“We’re definitely better than we have been in the upper weights,” McLean said. “Mead has horses in the same spots.”
Panthers coach Cash Stone agreed.
“We’ve got to do well from 168s through 275s, got to keep the wheels on at ‘41s, ‘48s and ‘58s and got to hang with them in the lower weights as much as we can,” he said.
Earlier this year, Gonzaga won the Deer Park and East Valley invitationals and was Spokane’s highest finisher, in ninth place, at the Tri-State Tournament.
In three GSL victories, McLean has used 24 different wrestlers.
“It means we’re headed in the right direction,” he said.
Tonight, that progress will be measured against a Mead team to which GSL wrestling is compared.
“We’ve got our work cut out for us,” said Stone. “But our kids are competitors and are looking forward to it.”
A team from Palmer, Alaska, en route to competition in Las Vegas, will be part of the 12-team Pacific Northwest Classic Wrestling tournament field Saturday at University High.
Defending champion Missoula Sentinel including individual winners Ryan and Jeremy Presta returns along with four other champions.
Action begins at 10 a.m. with championship matches set for 6 p.m.
Clarkston rallied to beat Lewiston 34-27 in a wrestling match the week before Christmas. It was the first time the Bantams had beaten their Idaho rival on the mat.
It was just three years ago, in coach Dan Randles’ first season at Clarkston, that Lewiston whipped the Bantams 69-6.
Melissa Dodge, former Lake City and Coeur d’Alene High basketball standout and a freshman forward at the University of Vermont, is out for the rest of the season after undergoing emergency surgery on Sunday night.
“She had what the doctor diagnosed as acute appendicitis and when that was removed, they found a little tumor,” said her father, Mike Dodge. “We won’t know until Thursday or Friday but they, and we, are hopeful it’s benign.”
Dodge is expected to be hospitalized for seven to 10 days.
After complaining of stomach pains, Dodge was rushed to the hospital during halftime of a Sunday road game against Rhode Island. Dodge wasn’t playing due to a stress fracture in her foot. She played in nine games, averaging 3.9 points and 3.8 rebounds.
The Class AA Metro League, besides losing Garfield, Roosevelt and Franklin to Class AAA, is having a tough time keeping basketball coaches.
For the second straight season, there are at least six new coaches each for boys and girls teams. This year’s actual count is seven new boys coaches and six for the girls.
Don Papasedero has resigned after five years as the football coach at Sammamish. Papasedero, 40, had one winning season and a 10-35 record, including 0-9 this year. He said he resigned because the school wasn’t providing the program with adequate resources to compete in the KingCo Conference.
District basketball tournaments for West Central district, perhaps taking a cue from the successful Eastern AAA regional, have been moved from high schools to neutral sites after opening-night loser-out games. Class AA will play at Pacific Lutheran and AAA at Puget Sound.