The Bellevue wrestling team went into the 2019-20 season with the goal of having the biggest turnaround in program history. After not winning a meet as a team since 2017, the Wolverines went 5-11 this season.
Bellevue head wrestling coach Jory Hamilton said the wins are milestones in the process of building a successful program.
“As competitors, (winning) helps the kids believe in themselves and that’s the most important thing,” Hamilton said.
Freshman Andy Scheyer (152 pounds) said their first team victories of the season over Bothell and Inglemoor on Dec. 12 were huge for the team. After those wins, he said more kids were coming to practice and they were working harder in the weight room and on the mat.
“That flipped a switch,” Scheyer said. “After we won those matches, it really boosted our confidence.”
The Wolverines picked up another confidence-boosting win with a razor-thin 37-36 win over Mercer Island thanks to a tie-breaker on Jan. 24.
“We initially thought we lost,” Hamilton said. “We went down to about the sixth tiebreaker and barely won. That says everything about the kids here. It took everyone to win.”
The Wolverines have a young team this season, with six freshmen in their varsity lineup for their final regular season meet of the year. Hamilton said that 23 out of the 26 members of the team are new wrestlers.
“They’ve all either met or exceeded the expectations put in front of them,” Hamilton said.
The young Bellevue wrestlers have taken on leadership roles with the team this year, which is something that Hamilton was surprised to see. Scheyer said they have incorporated leadership tactics from other sports and brought them to the wrestling team to help change the culture.
“We’re really changing the culture and the atmosphere,” Scheyer said. “The leadership from the upperclassmen has been great and the coaching staff is great. The pieces are all falling together.”
When freshman Carsen Martinez (132 pounds) heard people from other schools not take the Bellevue wrestling team seriously, it made him want to work harder.
“I feel like we’re making a stand and saying, ‘Bellevue wrestling is not a joke’,” Martinez said. “It motivates me to prove them wrong.”
Bellevue concluded its regular season at home for a triple dual meet featuring Sammamish, Newport, Interlake and Redmond on Jan. 30. Despite losing their two team matches to Interlake and Newport, Hamilton said hosting a home meet makes all the hard work worth it.
While Hamilton said he hopes to see the team go undefeated in the future, the most important thing for him is to see his wrestlers grow to be outstanding people.
“You love each and every one of those kids, on both good and bad days,” Hamilton said. “You’re watching a kid that is like your own family. You’re happy for everything they’ve learned and everything they’ve accomplished.”