There’s nothing easy about wrestling.
So when the wrestling deities smile upon you, you can be excused if the feelings go from glad to jubilant.
Somewhere in that range is where you will find the Quincy Jackrabbits’ boys’ wrestling team, finally allowed to compete in somewhat normal circumstances after the pandemic made sure there would be nothing normal about the 2020 season.
Led by Breck Webley, the squad is looking forward to this season more than perhaps any other in recent memory.
Webley, on his third year as head coach, called having a normal season again “rejuvenating,” since it gives the team a chance to compete the way it’s been done in years past, during the cold months of the year, with a fuller schedule and with the possible reward of a state tourney berth at the end of a grueling campaign.
“It’s really exciting to get back to some normal competition,” he said.
Turnout is a little lower than normal but higher than last year, with about 23 wrestlers showing up. Normally, the count numbers around 40 wrestlers, so it’s a bit of a down year, but better than 2020 where fewer than 20 wrestlers showed for the first practices.
Numbers were low across the Caribou Trail League during the COVID-19 season, Webley said, so it’s a bit of a wait-and-see year for all five teams in the CTL. Omak finished as league champs last year, with the Jacks finishing second.
“I’m really curious as to what the numbers are going to be for Cashmere, Cascade and Chelan,” Webley said. “I imagine Omak will still have a pretty decent team, so I’m really curious to see if these schools will be able to rebound with their numbers and be a lot more competitive in all the weights.”
One positive sign is that the wrestlers that showed up are all across the board weight-wise, which would allow the Jacks to send out wrestlers in almost every category.
“This is one of the few years that we are pretty spread out,” Webley said. “We have a kid wrestling at 110 lbs., which is going to be perfect for us, we have a few guys in the 130-lb area, a few in the 140-170-lb. area and a few heavyweights as well. So out of the 14 spots we should be able to fill out a lot of them.”
Veterans like Israel Perez, a state participant as a sophomore, returns as a senior. Perez had a good junior year, weird schedule notwithstanding, having finished the season as regional tournament champion. Juniors like David Medina, Christian Avila, Ariel Sandoval and Brody Wallace will have their first normal season since their freshman year, have endured the craziness of the COVID-19 season, have stuck with it and “we really expect them to be the core of our team,” Webley said, “and really lift us to some wins in our duals this year.” The team will be competitive, even if the turnout is a little lower than usual. Individual growth will be key.
“If these kids can get 20 takedowns, 10 pins, that sort of thing, throughout the season, I know that as a team we are going to be in a really good place, competing at the top of the league.”
This year, the season begins with a long bus ride up to Omak for a tournament the first weekend in December. In fact, the schedule is rather scarce on home cooking at the beginning of the year, but come January, the team will begin to host more home dates. Webley asked the fans to stay patient and to come out and support the Jacks when they finally do come back home, near the end of the regular season.
“The end of our season is when we are going to have three home events,” he said. “We won’t be able to compete much at home but then we have a big flurry (at the end of the year). We are excited to see the support from these kids’ families and our youth wrestling program and anyone else who wants to come and watch.”