The Cheney High wrestling team had a busy start to the season as they got in some early licks at a Dec. 3 jamboree against both Shadle Park and Kettle Falls, then traveled north for the Deer Park Invite three days later.
Several Blackhawks got their first taste of victory at the jamboree. Team captain Kodi Smith and Garrett Pederson both scored pins in the third period of their matches. Cameron Wiseman went 2-0 for the evening, pinning both of his opponents in the third period. In his second match, Braden Wirth came back from behind to win by decision, 3-2. Michael Ferguson pinned his opponent in the first period.
Cheney traveled to former Great Northern League rival Deer Park to compete in their first tournament of the season. Despite missing practice on Friday, head coach Brad Rasmussen said several of the wrestlers had no trouble getting ready for their matches.
Ferguson (285 pounds) placed the highest of the Blackhawks, taking second in his weight class.
Rasmussen said Ferguson spent the offseason wrestling and lifting in the weight room.
“We were excited to unleash him on the world,” Rasmussen said. “His goal is to be a dominant wrestler this year.”
Ferguson faced West Valley’s Jace Malek, who took second in the Mat Classic XXVI championships at 195, in the championship round, Saturday. Ferguson nearly pinned Malek 30 seconds into the first period. Malek came back and pinned Ferguson in the second.
Rasmussen was proud of Ferguson’s ability to handle himself against a wrestler of Malek’s caliber.
“He had Malek on his back and almost had him,” Rasmussen said. “This was a good test for Michael and it’s going to be fun watching him this season.”
Another standout at the tournament was newcomer Justin Randolph (170), who finished third in his weight class. Despite losing in the second round of the tournament, Randolph, who is from California, easily won his next three matches.
Rasmussen noted Randolph’s cool demeanor during his matches.
“He doesn’t get emotional, he’s very analytical,” Rasmussen said. “It’s nice to have a cool head like that.”
State-qualifier Devon Waterman (195) returned to action and finished fifth in his division. Rasmussen said Waterman is recovering from injuries and health problems and was not at his normal weight.
“He was wrestling guys a little bigger than he’s used to, but this was a good start for him,” Rasmussen said.
Smith, Wirth, Wiseman and Billy Bakke (116) all won first-round matches but were eliminated in the consolation bracket. As a team, the Blackhawks finished 13th with 68 points. Rasmussen said this week was a good beginning to the season and was proud of how his team handled themselves in competition, as well as the support they showed for each other.
“The first round of the tournament was nice,” Rasmussen said. “It was good for the young guys to get that experience.”
Although the jamboree and tournament were a good start for the Blackhawks, it also showed them where they need to improve. Rasmussen said he will adjust the weights and move some of the wrestlers around.
Some of the the Blackhawks return to action tomorrow at the Liberty Invite in Spangle, Wash.