Sports

Kent Meridian wrestling features young team

Despite having a young team, Kent-Meridian High wrestling coach Todd Owens believes that some of his wrestlers can go far this season.

His lineup of returning wrestlers features strong showings so far from senior Logan Jefferson (9-0), Junior Jahleel Smith (7-0), Chianson Siu (8-2) and Amos Daigbe (9-0).

Kent-Meridian had a 9-5 overall record in 2012-2013.

The coach also expects good results from junior heavyweight Tanner Torr.

"I think by the time he's a senior he'll be at the state tournament," Owens said.

Newcomer Gerardo Suarez (6-5) joins the returners. Despite his five losses, Owens describes him as a kid with potential.

Owens, an Alaskan native, has coached wrestling for more than 25 years.

"We got really young kids, 106 all the way up to 126, and it's all freshmen," Owens said. "They're going to be OK, they're just really, really young."

The inexperience, is Owens' biggest fear in the season. With a high turnover rate at the high school, it's hard to retain established veteran wrestlers who can provide guidance and role models to the new kids.

When looking for a good varsity candidate, Owens says that a student's toughness trumps all other traits, and that if a student has the mental fortitude to push through grueling wrestling workouts, then that student can be a competitive wrestler.

"A lot of kids trying out for football are here for a week and they're gone, it's too much work for them," Owens said. "It's not 10 seconds and rest for a minute. It's full pulling and pushing, shoving, snapping, sprawling, shooting. You never stop."

Kent-Meridian lost its opening meet to Auburn, bounced back to take down Mount Rainier and Auburn Riverside, and came in fourth in the Rogers Holiday Tournament. The Royals competed in the SPSL All Division tournament on Monday and Tuesday, after the Kent Reporter press deadline. They travel to Kennedy Catholic on Tuesday, Jan. 7.

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Kent-Meridian profile

Returning: Jahleel Smith, 138 pounds, Jr., 7-0 record to start season; Chianson Siu, 132, Jr., 8-2; Amos Daigbe, 170, Soph., 9-0.

New: Gerardo Suarez, 120, Fresh., 6-5.

Strengths: Fast on feet, endurance.

Weaknesses: Inexperience.

Outlook: Potential for a good year if the team can build on its successes during the season.

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