WALDPORT — The end of the 2019-20 season didn’t go as planned for the Waldport Irish wrestling team.
No wrestlers are moving onto the state wrestling meet, but the Irish have made strides over the season and hope those continue into the future.
“We tried to claim a few spots at the podium, but we just fell short,” Waldport head coach Joseph R. Chavez said.
The team wrestled hard, but senior Kolby Albitz ended up going 0-2, making it harder as this was Albitz last time on the mat for the Irish. A bittersweet moment, but Albitz’s contributions to the program will go a long way.
“He’s been in the program for four years, and he’s been an important part for us,” Chavez said. “He wanted to see what he could do but faced some pretty tough matches.
While the boys were unable to wrestle down a spot on the podium, the Irish had two make the podium after they wrestled each other for fifth and sixth place in the 126 bracket.
“The girls showed great wrestling throughout the tournament and even in the match with each other,” Chavez said. “Like I said before, they are showing their technical side of wrestling ,and they have shown great growth.”
Now moving forward, the Irish will no longer have Albitz ,as his four-year tenure is over, but Waldport has already identified who will take the program into the future — Josiah Burton.
The 145-pound freshman wrestler proved time and time again this season that regardless of age and experience, he can wrestle with anyone.
Burton went 0-2 over the weekend but went toe-to-toe with some of the best wrestlers in the area at 145 pounds.
“He understands he’s the future of our program and has plenty of time to grow in the sport,” Chavez said.
The Irish now look toward an off-season of growth, starting with a Waldport-area wrestling camp toward the beginning of March.
If the Irish want to continue their recent success and build the program further, it’s going to require effort from the kids, coaches and community.
“We have a clinic scheduled in March for all school-age kids, and some of the other county coaches have talked about plans for the camp, so they are quite interested in coming in,” Chavez said. “We want to grow the sport here in Waldport and we are going to do whatever we can to help make that happen.”