By David Pan Weekly Herald sports editor
Since he’s only been on the job a few weeks, first-year Lynnwood wrestling coach Clint Karlsen is still getting to know his team.
But Karlsen, who previously was an volunteer assistant coach at Roosevelt and Hazen high schools, knows two things about the Royals – turnout is high with numbers in the 40s, and the team returns some strong talent.
Three state participants are back – seniors Alex Basabe and Zack Calkins and sophomore Matthew Calkins, Zack’s younger brother.
Karlsen is focused more on developing a strong team identity and he’s looking to his seniors to provide leadership. The team’s three other seniors are Aaron Ayenew, Mathew Latimer and Taylor Hayes, one of two girls on the team.
“They are all setting the pace and that’s a good thing,” Karlsen said. “They’re great examples of how to work hard. The underclassmen are doing the same thing. We’re looking to work hard.”
Lynnwood’s numbers are boosted by an especially high turnout of freshmen with about a dozen out.
Karlsen plans to model the Lynnwood program after the one he went through at Chaparral High School in Las Vegas, Nev.
“It was about fundamental wrestling,” he said. “It developed character in kids and gave them the tools to be successful in life. All the little decisions add up to wins.
“We want to be equally or better conditioned than our opponents and just be fundamentally sound wrestlers.”
Lynnwood opens the season at one of Karlsen’s old stomping grounds. The Royals are scheduled to attend the Roosevelt Takedown Jamboree on Nov. 26. Lynnwood then hosts a non-league match against Cascade and Stanwood at 7 p.m., Dec. 2 and travels to Jackson for a 7 p.m., Dec. 8 match.
Karlsen has spent the last two years in the KingCo 4A, so he is trying to get up to speed on the Snohomish County opposition Lynnwood will face this season.
“We want to show what it means to be a student-athlete and represent Lynnwood High School well,” Karlsen said. “We’re looking to improve every day and every week.”