Tiger Field, normally filled with track and field athletes on a sunny May afternoon, was instead covered in four giant wrestling mats and dozens of wrestlers from 13 different schools as Napavine High School held an outdoor wrestling meet for the first time in school history Thursday.
A sport that normally takes place in a dark gymnasium was instead filled with sunny skies as coaches yelled out instructions, players slapped the mat in celebration, or frustration, and a crowd of fans watched from the football stands nearby.
Schools from as far away as Forks and Ilwaco converged in Napavine to take part in the meet, one of the first of its kind this year in Washington state as schools find creative ways to adhere to Phase 2 restrictions for sports. There were a couple outdoor duals in Clark County and on the east side of the mountains on Wednesday as well.
Local teams included Napavine, of course, along with W.F. West girls, Adna, Winlock, Toledo, Onalaska, Mossyrock and Rainier.
The meet was a mix-and-match, rather than a usual tournament or dual format, with no team scores recorded. In all, 112 matches were played.
For Napavine, freshman Jesse Gunther won both of his matches by pin. Freshman Gabe Dickinson went 2-1, with both his victories also coming by pin.
For Winlock, sophomore Jay Crow went 2-0 with two pins and sophomore Kyle Akin went 1-1, including a 17-second pin in his first match.
Landon Russell and Mason Ruiz, both Winlock middle schoolers, each lost their only match, but coach Jed Klein was proud of their effort.
This year, with just three total matches, Klein said the plan is to “continue to work hard and win matches and see results.”
For Adna, senior Keaton Dowell beat both girls she faced in the 170-pound division. Junior Tristan Ridley went 1-1 in the 152-pound weight class.
“For our first match of the season, we wrestled pretty good,” Adna coach Craig Ferrier said.
Adna boys and girls head to Forks for a dual meet on Saturday. Winlock will wrestle again on Wednesday at an undetermined location.