There’s an atmosphere of success surrounding the blue-collar town of Darrington.
The Loggers’ football team just completed their most successful season in years, posting an undefeated regular season and finishing with a remarkable 10-1 record.
And now that football season has ended, most of the players that participated on the Loggers Northwest 2B League championship team will turn their attention to wrestling, hoping that the success from the gridiron carries over to the winter sport of wrestling.
Expectations are high for a Logger wrestling team that finished a school-best eighth at the 1B/2B state tournament last season.
Led by senior Conner Rounds, the Loggers return three grapplers that placed at state last season and a core of players that are determined to return to the Tacoma Dome, site of the state championships.
“We’re excited about this year,” Darrington head coach Chad Montieth said, “We’ve got three guys returning that were in the finals last year. We’re hoping we can at least duplicate that.”
Along with Rounds, sophomore’s Kolton Palmer and Johnny Loughnan both placed at state last season.
Palmer finished fourth in the 130-pound weight class and will wrestle in the 140 division this year and Loughnan, a second-place finisher last season at 112, will move up to the 119 class and a chance to better his sensational high school debut season.
“Johnny will be tough this year. He’ll be at 119 and I think he’s going to have a great season. Palmer’s gotten a lot stronger and is going to have a great year, and Kody Bryson, who just missed out on state last year will be tough at 130,” Montieth said.
But the anchor of the team will be the senior Rounds.
Coming off a football season in which the middle linebacker took Northwest 2B defensive player of the year honors, Rounds will try to better his junior season in which he went 31-2, losing in the 189 finals in a 14-7 decision.
This year the senior will move to the 215-pound class, a big leap for some but not for a World Champion dead lifter.
During the offseason Rounds makes his rounds competing in powerlifting competitions.
He recently competed in Anaheim, Calif. at the World Bench Press and Dead Lift Championships and “pulled a 584,” Rounds casually states, meaning he dead lifted 584 pounds, taking first place in his age and weight division.
At his first meet in June, Rounds set a World Association of Benchers and Deadlifters record for deadlifts in his age and weight class with a lift of 523 pounds. He bettered that lift by dead lifting 578.5 pounds at a September meet held in Aberdeen.
Montieth is optimistic that the success at power lifting will help Rounds come wrestling season.
“I hope (powerlifting) helps, it sure seemed to help with football. It’s quite a bit of a leap moving to 215 but Conner is plenty strong enough,” Montieth said.
“It makes it easier when you can out strengthen a guy,” Rounds said, “It gives you better conditioning with technique and strength.”
Since the second-place finish at state last season, Rounds has dedicated himself to working hard along with, “bumping up the cardio and strengthening,” Rounds said.
Montieth says that Rounds is one of the hardest working kids he’s seen.
“The thing I’ve noticed about Conner is that he’s the first at practice and the last to leave. He wants to improve constantly. He’s constantly got goals and is working towards them. It’s hard to find a kid that dedicated,” Montieth said.
It’s that kind of hard work that Montieth, Rounds and the rest of the Darrington wrestling squad hope pay off in their quest for a state championship.