The wrestling team won the region II tournament on Feb. 9 for the fourth year in a row. Seniors, Max Strum and Michael Villalobos and sophomore Matt Raines placed first in the tournament. Four wrestlers will be advancing to states on Feb. 15 and 16.
“We finally came together as a team at Regionals,” head coach Doug Fisher said. “We were competitive in all of our losses this year, but just couldn’t find a way to fire on all cylinders at the same time. The guys really came to that reality at Districts when we lost by such a thin margin. They took ownership in that second place finish, and really came together for a focused and determined week of practice prior to Regionals, and the result is now history.”
The Falcons have persevered through many problems this season, one of which was the lack of returning wrestlers.
“I am continually amazed, though, at our level of success this year,” Fisher said. “Other than Michael, we have had principally only three other returning starters from last year’s squad and one of those was a freshman last year.”
The biggest obstacle for this year’s squad was injuries. Senior Marko Tcheukado and junior Henry Weber were knocked out by season ending injuries.
“These injuries left a tremendous void to fill,” Fisher said. “Although their absence has provided opportunity for some, their leadership and experience has been missed by all.”
Tcheukado got in only two days of practice before breaking his leg in three places. As a senior, he will not get another chance at FHS. However, Tcheukado has joined the coaching staff for junior varsity and helped teach up and coming wrestlers what it takes to make varsity.
“I felt really bad about it,” Tcheukado said. “I had to just tell myself that I wasn’t going to wrestle this year. I am still a team captain, and I go to all the meets and help the junior varsity players with weight management.”
Weber was primed for a big year in 2013, but was knocked out by a shoulder injury which he suffered from while playing varsity football in the fall.
“It’s been awful because there have been many situations this year where I could’ve helped the team,” Weber said. “On a personal level, it sucks because I could’ve done really well this year and won’t get the chance to.”
Because of the injuries, the few remaining veterans are forced to step up and convince the young guys to compete as hard as possible.
“[The injuries to other guys] make you want to do better,” Villalobos said. “You have to do your best all the time and encourage the younger guys to keep pushing through everything.”
~Josh Henry, design editor