Coach: Creighton Laughary
Number of athletes: 35
Last season: The Islanders finished seventh in state as a team, and senior Blake Johnson was the state champion in the 160 weight class, Mercer Island’s first individual champion in a decade. Another senior, Phil Frazier finished second overall. The team finished sixth a regionals and second at the KingCo tournament.
Strengths: “I think work ethic,” said Laughary. “We have a lot of guys who are back who watched our successful wrestlers last year and some successful wrestlers are back. They are willing to work. It’s gratifying – I tell them to do something and they do it. They did preseason workouts, of their own violation, I try not to require it, because I want them to enjoy their high school years, but it really shows their dedication.”
“Last year we started the season with a couple of seniors girls, who were kind of going out for it on a lark, but they didn’t last very long,” said Laughary. “This year we have two underclassmen and another considering it. We’re really enthused with having them. That’s exciting, Washington state, we’re one of the fastest growing populations of girl wrestlers in the country. They don’t usually come out at this school. It’s been growing by double digit percents each year.”
Focus: “We’re going to focus on being really aggressive on our feet. We’ve been successful with the technique that our assistant coach Adrian Diaz and Lee Janke bring and we’re changing some things on our feet and the attack and really, rather than being a finesse team, being an aggressive team. Not much of a change,” said the coach.
Seniors: Nick Chandler, Danny Stanke, Andy Picton, Ben O’Connell, Mikalai Hubarevich, Connor Gullstad, Luca Caruccio
Meet to watch: “We’re really looking forward to our first one, a double dual on Dec. 4 with Everett and Inglemoor,” said the coach. “So a 3A power and a 4A power, both of them have wrestlers on the roster who were on the medal stand at state last year. Right away we’re going to have a test. Beyond that we’re always excited to have some home matches. We have a string is late January. Especially during finals, it’s nice to have one match and then be at home.”