When Shawn Willey was growing up in St. Maries, he and his buddy Travis Duffey wrestled all the time. Little did they know that by their sophomore year in high school they would be grappling for a district championship.
Nevertheless, that’s what happened last weekend in the A-2 District I-II finals at 103 pounds. Duffey had won the duo’s previous three matches, but Willey turned the tables on him and walked away with a district title.
“We knew we’d end up wrestling each other in the finals, so there really aren’t any hard feelings,” Willey said.
The two were locked in a scoreless tie through the first two rounds, before Willey got a near fall and a takedown to put the match away. The previous closest match between the two was a 6-2 Duffey win, but it was Willey’s week.
“It makes us better to have the chance to practice against each other every week because we have different styles,” Willey said.
Willey is a more offensive-minded wrestler who St. Maries coach Ryan Wood said is becoming an excellent technician. Wood feels that Duffey is a more defensive-minded wrestler, who rarely lets opponents complete a shot on him.
“They’ve both got a good shot of placing in the top six at state this weekend because they’ve both been wrestling really well lately,” Wood said.
Both went to state last year. That’s an experience that Willey said will help him remain focused because of the level at which one has to compete to place.
“Anything can happen down there, so I’m just going to wrestle my best and see what happens,” Willey said.
Although Willey and Duffey seem to handle the situation well, Wood said it is tough for him to watch the two compete. He feels they are two of the hardest workers on the team and said he hopes next year one of them will move into a different weight class to spread their talent.
For the two to meet again at state, though, it would have to be in the championship match because they are seeded in different brackets. It’s a prospect that would no doubt be accepted by the teammates and coach. , DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo