With no intercollegiate wrestling programs left in Washington, save for one community college, the opportunities for fans here to watch a college match are limited, and usually involve a trip to Oregon, Idaho or British Columbia.
But for one special evening that will change.
Friday night at Snohomish High School, wrestling teams from Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, B.C., and Doane College in Crete, Neb., will meet in a regular-season dual match. As an added bonus, both squads have wrestlers from Snohomish County.
The match is the brainchild of Simon Fraser assistant coach Clete Hanson and Doane head coach Tyson Springer, both friends of Snohomish High School wrestling coach Rob Zabel. Hanson and Springer helped coach at a Snohomish wrestling camp last summer, and the idea grew out of conversations between the two men.
Eventually they asked Zabel if he would host the match and he said sure.
It will be a homecoming for several wrestlers, among them Simon Fraser’s Jacob Elledge, who wrestled at Glacier Peak High School, and teammate Morgan Smith, who attended Meadowdale. Doane, meanwhile, has seven wrestlers from this state including Greg Eagle of Snohomish, Jesse Marek of Lynnwood and Seattle’s Bishop Blanchet High School, Jesse Peterson of Lake Stevens, and Zach Schut of Stanwood.
“This is going to be an awesome opportunity for them to go home and wrestle in front of their family and friends,” said Springer, a 2000 graduate from Monroe and a wrestling standout who reached the state finals three times, winning once. “I’m sure it’s going to be a really good feeling for them, just to be at home.”
But there is perhaps a greater purpose for Friday night’s match. Given the lack of intercollegiate wrestling programs in the state — only Highline CC offers the sport — the Simon Fraser-Doane match is a rare opportunity to showcase collegiate wrestling in Washington. According to Zabel, the last time university-level programs wrestled in this state was a few years ago when Oregon State and Boise State held a match in Spokane.
“This is a really big deal,” Zabel said. “I’ve invited a number of athletic directors from different colleges, and we’re hoping for them to come and see that wrestling has support here. And hopefully we can start making steps toward reinstating some of these wrestling programs.
“We have kids here who want to wrestle, but they have to leave the state to do it,” he added. “And I think that’s a real shame.”
“This is definitely a step in the right direction,” Springer agreed. “It’s a chance to show there are college wrestling fans in Washington, and that there are kids that want to stay home (to wrestle). And by doing something like this, it’s a chance for people to get excited about wrestling in Washington.”
Tickets for Friday’s 7 p.m. match are $5, and $3 for those wearing wrestling shirts.
The idea, Zabel said, “is that we’re going to try to pack the place and give these guys a pretty cool environment to wrestle in.”