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WRESTLING: Limitless potential on Kentlake mat
They have the potential and plenty of talent, too.
Now, second-year Kentlake High wrestling coach Jeremy Williams wants to see it all come together for the Falcons on the mat.
“We definitely want to be in the top three in dual (meets) in the league,” Williams said. “We know Tahoma and Auburn have tough teams, and Kentwood does as well. But we have a lot of guys who have potential and aspirations to make it to state.”
Which helps explain why the Falcons are setting the bar higher for themselves this winter than they ever have before.
Kentlake posted an 0-5 mark in South Puget Sound League North Division dual meets last year. The record isn’t what has Williams excited about the team’s immediate future, but rather how the Falcons finished off last season, when they finished fourth at the league tournament.
It was the highest tournament finish of the year for Kentlake, a team that returns three of its four state qualifiers from last season – Sean Farr (135), Colton Marlowe (135) and Samir Faizoullin (140).
Kentlake already has shown noticeable growth from a year ago, taking third place at last weekend’s Decatur Invitational. Farr, competing at 130 pounds, brought home the championship with a 20-4 technical fall over Cascade of Everett’s Shakail Crabb. Marlowe added a second-place finish at 135 while Nathan Meeks also took second at 285. Meanwhile, returner Jeff Harjehausen chipped in a third-place finish at 119 pounds. The Falcons finished with 144 points and just behind second-place Tacoma Baptist (166) despite the fact that Faizoullin did not compete after spraining an ankle in practice a day earlier. Decatur cruised to the team title with 236 points.
The strong showing gives Williams and the Falcons reason to believe this winter. Not just because Kentlake has considerable returning talent, but also due to the fact that the Falcons were a young bunch a year ago and already have showed considerable growth in the early season.
“Last year, we were young and the league was very experienced,” Williams said. “If we’re not sending six or seven (wrestlers) to state this year, I think we’re falling short of our goal. We should be able to send six, seven or even more.”
If Kentlake does, in fact, send more than seven wrestlers, the Falcons will have established a new school record. Kentlake sent a school-best seven wrestlers to state in 2007, which resulted in a program-high ninth-place finish at Mat Classic XIX.
“This is the best Kentlake team since 2007,” said Williams, who was the program’s assistant coach for 11 years before taking over lead duties.
Since Kentlake opened its doors in 1997, the wrestling team has brought home a total of nine individual medals, but no titles. On paper, this year’s bunch may not have a state champion, though several of the Falcons – Farr, Marlowe, Faizoullin and Harjehausen among others – certainly could crack the top eight at the Tacoma Dome in February.
Adding to this year’s optimism is the return of Jesse Keliiliki (171) and Zac Cowan (215). In addition, Kentlake received a pair of transfers (Tyler Carrico and Kyle Sorge) who have added to the excitement over the program’s future.
“We’re pretty fortunate. We don’t have any glaring holes,” said Williams, noting that the team has roughly 50 wrestlers out on the mat this season. “Our weights have shaken out pretty well this year. The guys are excited and I’m really excited.”