The Mercer Island wrestling team is back on the mat, preparing for a new season.
Mercer Island wrestling head coach Lee Jahncke said there has been a good turnout this year, so they have plenty of new wrestlers coming into the program.
“We have a handful of good, new freshmen coming in and a handful of good returners,” Jahncke said. “We have a good group of girls, which is nice for us. We have six on the roster, which is more than we’ve had in the past.”
Early in the season, Jahncke said they are focusing on conditioning and teaching the new wrestlers about technique.
“We do a lot of teaching in the early days,” Jahncke said. “Just teaching moves, tactics and the basics of wrestling, because a lot of our wrestlers come in not knowing a whole lot or being totally brand new to the sport.”
The Islanders will rely on some of their veteran wrestlers, especially Colin Farrell (182), Owen Baebler (195) and Jack Harper (160). Jahncke said freshman Chris Neal, who is expected to compete at 138 pounds, is also going to be an exciting wrestler to watch this season for the Islanders.
Jahncke said one of the team’s biggest strengths is its depth in the higher weight classes.
“We have some depth in our middle weights, but especially so in our upper-end weight classes,” Jahncke said. “That’s where we have some of our more veteran wrestlers who should be able to make some noise and do some good things.”
Jahncke said he expects the team this year to be competitive in all of its dual meets.
“I think we have a handful of wrestlers who have a shot to go far in the postseason,” Jahncke said. “We have a chance of having three or four wrestlers that can maybe make it to the state tournament and perhaps place at the state tournament.”
One of the areas the Islanders are looking to improve on from last season is their consistency.
“Last year, I think we had a pretty good season, but we had some moments where the team wasn’t necessarily as consistent collectively as we could have been,” Jahncke said.
That inconsistency was evident in a meet against Lake Washington late last season. The Islanders let a lead slip away to the Kangs, costing Mercer Island the league title.
“They ended up catching us on a bad night and they wrestled really well,” Jahncke said. “So more power to them, of course. We were tied up in the league standings so they took the league championship away from us when we had an off night.”
Jahncke said that he is personally excited to get another shot at Lake Washington on Jan. 30.
“We want a shot at everybody we can of course, but at least in my book, I look forward to seeing them,” Jahncke said. “They’re always fun to wrestle and I have a great relationship with their coaches. It’s a friendly kind of rivalry.”
The first home meet of the season will be against Interlake and Newport on Dec. 5. Jahncke said that he is excited to see how things go in the first few meets, especially with lots of new wrestlers. Mercer Island will compete at their first tournament of the season at the Edmonds-Woodway Tournament on Dec. 7. With lots of strong wrestlers competing, the tournament will provide a measuring stick for the Mercer Island wrestlers.
“It will be cool to see how our wrestlers perform against some top competition early on in the season,” Jahncke said.