Craig Iversen had been mulling stepping down as Marysville Pilchuck’s wrestling coach for a few years, but after leading the Tomahawks for 20 seasons, he wanted to make sure the program was in good health when he took his leave.
With top-caliber talent returning on both ends of the weight spectrum, and a tailor-made replacement on hand in assistant coach Marcus Haughian, Iversen felt the time was right.
Shortly after February’s state tournament — during which Iversen and Haughian sat in junior Cayden White’s corner during the 3A championship bout at 170 pounds — Iversen informed Marysville Pilchuck athletic director Paul Dockendorf that he was retiring from coaching.
In May, Haughian, a 2011 graduate of Marysville Pilchuck and a collegiate wrestler at Grand Canyon University and Colorado Mesa University, was hired to replace him.
“We had a pretty neat year last year, and didn’t have any problems,” Iversen said. “I wanted to end my time when things were good. We have a neat thing going and we had an incredible candidate already as an assistant. It was just natural timing.”
Iversen will stay on as a U.S. History and Civics teacher at Marysville Pilchuck, and is also the president of the Marysville School District coaches’ association. He came to Marysville Pilchuck after five seasons as the head coach at Burlington-Edison, and coached a pair of Tomahawks to state championships — Israel Silva in 2000 and Killian Page in 2015.
Iversen gives way to Haughian, 26, who competed for an NCAA Division II national championship with Colorado Mesa in 2016 and immediately got into coaching. He spent a year as a volunteer assistant at MP before joining Iversen’s staff prior to the 2017-18 season.
He had planned to go to dental school, but fell in love with teaching and the appeal of passing on his wrestling knowledge to kids in Marysville. Haughian teaches science and math at Lakewood Middle School, west of Smokey Point.
“Wrestling was just something I didn’t want to give up, and going back to where I came from and being a guide to other student-athletes is important to me,” Haughian said. “Wrestling has been a big part of my life since I was young, and I want to show kids that being involved in athletics can help them do well in school and just do the right things. I want to help make kids successful.”
Iversen said the technique he’s been teaching the Tomahawks is a bit outdated, and Haughian likely will bring some new approaches to the wrestling room.
“I laughed earlier that our technique package — every school has its own deal, and ours has worked for us — but it’s kind of an old-school, 1970s style,” Iversen said. “Marcus bringing a shot of energy in there will be good.”
Iversen said he didn’t have any direct input on Haughian’s hiring other than acting as a reference for his work as an assistant, but fully endorses the move.
“He’s a proven product and an MP alum. He’s just the right guy. He’s a mat rat and has all the other things you’d want. He’s the full package,” Iversen said.
Haughian will have White and two-time state participant Austin Davis back as leaders in the room next season, along with 2019 state participant Ikaika Naweli.
“I really believe Craig does a great job of building athletes on a personal level and gets out the best in their character,” Haughian said. “I think that MP has a great foundation, and I came from MP, so I believe in it. Being kind of fresh out of college, I have some new techniques, exercises and practice strategies that will help mold the program in a new, positive way.”