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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sports >  High school sports

First-year coach Nathaniel Desantiago sees Ferris wrestlers poised to move up

Nathaniel Desantiago sees the way forward. And he sees a way to get there.

The first-year Ferris wrestling coach knows his athletes after two seasons as an assistant to Tim Owen. He encouraged his wrestlers to put in the hard work over the summer that they would need to improve once the season started.

“We had a tremendous amount of buy-in over the summer,” he said. “We had a lot of kids go to camps – 22 kids, but I would love to see that number up around 35. We had a good group at the North Idaho camp and at their intensive camp the week after. They put on a great camp.

“After last year I encouraged kids to get involved more in spring activities, and we had a lot of kids compete in weekend tournaments over the summer.”

That’s no surprise, he said.

“I’ve worked with these kids the last two years,” he said. “We’re building. These kids have character. They’re learning what they can do and learning what their potential is. These are tough-minded kids. We’re learning pretty quick that we have a tough team, but we’re young. Our level of experience is not there yet.”

After a week of the new season, Desantiago has seen his wrestlers learn some valuable lessons.

In a dual meet with Mead, the less-experienced Saxons held their own. A dual meet with University saw a forfeit at a weight class, but again, Ferris competed well.

“We can compete with the best programs in our league,” Desantiago said. “The next step is to start winning those matches.”

Over the last two seasons, Owen mentored Desantiago and helped him prepare to take over. Now he’s the defacto No. 1 assistant in the room, continuing to teach.

“I am so grateful to Tim for what he’s taught me and I love having him in the room,” Desantiago said. “What I admire most about him is his consistency with everything he does. The kids know what to expect from him. He’s done this for so long and I want to continue what he’s done. If anything, I want to bring up the intensity, but I want to continue the legacy he’s established. He’s laid a great foundation for just competitive wrestling.”

Competing at the top levels of the Greater Spokane League, and at the regional level, is a tall order.

“The level of quality wrestling we have here is insane,” he said. “In our region, when you factor in the Tri-Cities, Moses Lake and the St. Helens league teams, our region contributed 54 of the total number of state placers last year. Six of our teams finished in the top eight at state.”

Desantiago feels he has the horses to take the program to that level.

Two of them placed last weekend at CV, although both finished lower than they had hoped.

Senior Josh Anastasi is ranked among the Class 4A’s 10 best at 138 pounds, and in the Inland Empire tournament he earned his way into the semifinals.

“He wrestled really well,” the new coach said. “He’s one of those kids who is getting used to being in those tough matches and is learning how to finish. He was up late in the match and gave up a takedown late. Same thing in the third place-fourth place match. That just comes with experience.

“What made it tough is that the kid he lost to in the semifinals was a kid from University that he beat in our dual meet Wednesday.”

Anastasi is one of the Saxons leaders, and the coach credited him with taking the loss in the best possible way – immediately looking for a way to learn from the experience and improve for his next match.

“He’s a kid who goes beyond anyone else on the team,” Desantiago said. “He’s committed everything to this team. He’s a really good soccer player and he even gave up playing soccer last spring. He’s a 4.0 student and an academic state champion and the student body president. You can’t ask for a better leader.”

Senior Chris Homen had a similar experience, and had similar results, at 170.

“Chris is in a really tough weight class,” the coach said. “He would say he came up short, but he had a good tournament and has made a great leap. He’s another kid who has committed everything to this team. He’s a three-sport athlete. I’m the offensive coordinator for the football team, and Chris was an all-league honorable mention as a defensive lineman. And he got to state last year in the hurdles. He can fly.

“He’s a kid who loves to work hard. He’s the type of kid who comes to you after practice and tells you he’s going over to the gym to lift weights or go for an extra run.”

Desantiago said he is doing something different for this weekend’s Tri-State tournament in Coeur d’Alene.

“It’s been a while since we’ve sent a full team over there,” he said. “But I like to let the kids go. If they want to compete, I am going to let them compete. I think it will be a very good experience for them and it will expose them to some great competition.”

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