New Deer Park wrestling coach Steve Meuer has more pressing business than to worry about Northeast A League wrestling tradition.
“There are 40 wrestlers in the room,” he said. “I’m just getting to know their names.”
Meuer is a 1985 Mead High School graduate who moved to Spokane from Indiana and became the school’s only two-time state champion.
A self-employed contractor in the telecommunications cable business, Meuer previously was an assistant coach in Colorado.
“The good thing about this is the winter is usually pretty slow,” said Meuer. “I can take part of it off and do coaching at school.”
Meuer replaces Dean Largent, who resigned following a long, successful career.
“Actually, a family friend, whose kid wrestled here made me aware of the job,” he said. The young Deer Park team has its work cut out for it.
Lakeside High’s defending champions overwhelmed the league with an extremely young team last year and the Eagles are favored to repeat.
“This is probably the best dual meet team I’ve ever had,” Eagle coach Scott Jones said.
Riverside, which competes in the Frontier League, is young, but also has some veterans back.
Deep Eagles only get deeper
Already experienced at nearly every weight class, Lakeside only became stronger when the Close brothers transferred in.
Scott Close, a junior, was the GSL 101-pound district runnerup last year at Shadle Park and is struggling to crack the starting lineup.
“Hopefully he’ll get back to 101,” said Jones.
His freshman brother Shawn Close, is battling state placer Trevor Blackwell at 115.
Blackwell is just one of a wealth of Lakeside talent, six of whom wrestled at state, five of them placing.
Nate Bohl was sixth at 148. He and 108-pounder Jason Belyea, said Jones, “are the two strongest wrestlers on the entire team.”
That’s saying something considering Blackwell, 129-pounder Anthony Layton, 135-pounder Matt Westenfelder and 141-pounder Aaron Laughary, all finished among the state’s top eight wrestlers.
Jones’s nephew, Westenfelder, broke his fibia in three places during football and is just getting back to form.
Veteran wrestlers include junior Sean Wheeler at 158. He wrestled on Washington’s national freestyle team. Sophomore Matt Jolley or junior Robert Smeltzer are at 168. Juniors Craig Downey and Adam Cummings are at 178.
Jason Cummings is at 190 and football star Randy Brownell is at 215. Junior Guy Phillips gives Lakeside its first legitimate 275 pounder.
Other prospects are 101-pound freshman Robert Painter, 122-pound sophomore Todd Kenny, veterans Adrian Laughary a 129-pound sophomore and 135-pound junior Jason Christen.
“With so many returning placers you’d think we’d be a powerful state team,” said Jones. “I’m concerned about Connell and Castle Rock.”
But the Eagles, seventh in state a year ago, will give them a go.
“The more effort you give, the more championship performances you receive,” said Jones.
Young team at Deer Park
There is experience in the lineup at Deer Park, but by and large the Stags are a young team.
“We have five seniors and some tough juniors,” said Meuer. “Most of the kids in the room are ninth and 10th graders.”
Senior Jeb Race is a returning district finalist and state qualifier at 148 pounds.
Regional qualifier junior Ryan Pilgrim returns at 101.
Experienced wrestlers include senior John Borbridge at 108, junior Jeremy Race at 129, junior Mikal Bryant at 148, senior Jed Thompson at 158, senior Heath Berger at 168, his brother, junior Jarred Berger at 178, senior Steve Daniel at 215 and junior Mike Clough at 275.
There are youngsters, including 115-pound sophomore Phil Borbridge, who will crack the lineup.
“It looks good right now,” said Meuer of his new position.
Riverside building for new coach
Former Riverside coach Randy Miller left to take a teaching job at Royal City. His assistant, Scott Friedman, takes over the program.
Not that Friedman is a stranger. His father, Riverside athletic director Marty Friedman, was the Ram wrestling coach two seasons before.
“Dad coached me here in high school,” said Scott. “I have a motivation to follow in his footsteps.”
Riverside, in the AA Frontier League, is young, with a lot of freshmen and sophomores in the lineup, but has several returning starters.
Regional veteran Adrian Bojorquez, at 122, lone senior Paul Murray at 148, juniors Joben Nuesse at 129 and Jesse Lee, down to 178, had successful Frontier seasons.
Others who wrestled regularly for the varsity last year are junior Tu Le, who is trying to reach 115 pounds although he wrestled as high as 129, junior Adam Tietz at 135 and Jared Bailey, who will be in the 158-68 class.
Newcomers are sophomore Alex Thompson at 101, freshman Anthony Erickson at 108, senior Shawn Hundley and freshman Andy Lamarche at 115, junior Ben Bowers at 141 and sophomore Craig Alexander at 158.
Sophomores Jeremy Jordan, Damon Tokarz and James Franklin are at 190 pounds.
The Rams have no one in the upper two weights.
“It’s a grassroots level movement,” said Friedman of his first year at the helm. “The kids have an awesome work ethic and great attitude.”
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