The third annual Battle of Mill Creek wrestling clash between Jackson and Archbishop Murphy didn’t turn out to be much of a battle.
The Timberwolves flexed their muscles to pull out a 35-3 victory Dec. 12 at Archbishop Murphy High School.
The Wildcats were missing some of their team members who wrapped up their football season at the state semifinals. But the score did not reflect any forfeits because earlier in the day Archbishop Murphy coach Blaine Smith contacted Jackson coach Gustavo Anaya and wanted to know if they could wrestle head’s up to make the night more exciting.
So Jackson did not accept any forfeits during the night. Eight of the 14 weight classes were contested in Friday’s meet.
“It was real classy on Gus’ part,” Smith said. “The last couple of years we’ve had real close matches. This year it wasn’t going to happen.”
Those in attendance saw the Timberwolves score five pins, one technical fall and two decisions.
“It’s a fun environment,” Anaya said. “We had a lot of people here. It was nice and loud. It’s pretty intense. It’s nice to bring it home for a third time.”
A highlight for Jackson was Danny Davis’ 10-7 decision over Jeremy Wattam, who is a state competitor.
“Danny came up and pulled off a nice win,” Anaya said. “It was a great match.”
Davis moved up a weight class, as did four other of the Timberwolves.
“Everybody did pretty well,” Anaya said.
Jackson’s state returner Jared Mead pulled out a 4-2 decision over Taylor Baehm.
“He looked a little out of shape today,” Anaya said of Mead. “Our goal is to get him in shape and get him ready for the postseason. I look for him to go to state again this year.”
Mead is moving up from 119 to 125 and the competition in that weight class is solid, according to Anaya.
“125 is going to be a stacked weight class,” Anaya said. “He’s got some work to do.”
The Jackson senior only started wrestling as a sophomore but has picked up the sport quickly.
“He’s a fast learner,” Anaya said. “He’s pretty strong for his size.”
Jackson’s depth is in its middle weights with Conner Martin (140), Michael Shapiro (145), Brenan Sanchez (135) and Ryan Feiock (160).
“Those are our core group of kids,” Anaya said. “They have a chance to do well this year. Our middle weights are where our most experienced kids are.”
Shapiro was a regional qualifier two years ago, while Martin was an alternate last year.
Two other Timberwolves who are showing promising are Jordan Stephens (112) and Anthony Mortera (171), who missed last year due to a broken hand.
“Our coaching staff is putting an emphasis on using the duals to prepare for the postseason,” Anaya said. “Of course, we’d love to finish near the top of the league, but our main concern is the postseason.”
For Smith and the Wildcats, the emphasis is on getting mat time, especially for the incoming freshmen, who took their lumps Friday night.
“They’re giving it their all,” Smith said. “It’s just a learning process. I’m pleased with the fact that they’re battling out there.”
Cameron Wade recorded the lone Archbishop Murphy victory with his 2-1 decision over Martin at 140.
“That was a good close match,” Smith said.
Archbishop Murphy lost its top prospect when Brad Gee, who placed second at state last year, returned to Stanwood High School.
Wade and Wattam both advanced to state last season and Smith likes their prospects this year.
“I think they’ll do well in our league,” he said. “I think they’ve got a chance to be state placers. It takes a lot of work.”
Archbishop Murphy’s Caleb Smith and Keegan Kruse (heavyweight) are two football players that just need practice time and some matches.
“We’ll get them in shape eventually,” Smith said. “It takes some time. We’ll be a better team in January than we are now. Conditioning for wrestling is just different from other sports.”