Illness decimates Liberty High School wrestlers

January 22, 2013

By Christina Corrales-Toy

Connor Small (top), Liberty High School sophomore, controls Hazen junior Malik Haythorne during their 152-pound match Jan. 15, taking an 8-1 victory. Small would also win his match Jan. 17 against Bellevue by a technical fall. By Greg Farrar

Connor Small (top), Liberty High School sophomore, controls Hazen junior Malik Haythorne during their 152-pound match Jan. 15, taking an 8-1 victory. Small would also win his match Jan. 17 against Bellevue by a technical fall. By Greg Farrar

As the nation struggles through a particularly aggressive flu season, many Liberty High School wrestlers know only too well the ailments that accompany the illness.

The flu knocked out nearly the entire team last week, when the Patriots dropped matches to Hazen and Bellevue, Liberty coach Manny Brown said.

“With injuries and sickness, I think I had maybe six wrestlers that are at full strength,” he said. “But the other teams have illnesses too.”

Despite going into the matches with a short-handed squad, Brown said the remaining Patriot wrestlers stood tough through adversity.

“This last week, with the Hazen and the Bellevue matches, it was tough, but the guys that did go out on the mat worked hard and we had a few wins, but we didn’t quite come out on top like we would have liked to,” he said.

Liberty dropped its first match of the week to Renton rival Hazen, 46-27, on Jan. 15.

Both Alejandro Tachiyama and Zach Toombs had pins for the Patriots, while Conner Small, Alec Bluhm and Zach Arthur won by decision.

“Zach Toombs came through for us,” Brown said. “He hasn’t been as healthy as we’d like to see him, but he bit the bullet and came through for us in that match.”

Tachiyama is a first-year wrestler and 285-pounder who stepped up in a big way for the Patriots, Brown said.

“He came through as a heavyweight,” Brown said. “Fortunately, we have two heavyweights this year. One of them was ill, so Alejandro pinned for 285.”

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The 152-pound Small defeated his Hazen counterpart, 8-1. The Highlanders actually brought their 145-pounder up to wrestle Small, to give both wrestlers a different challenge, Brown said.

“I commend them for that. They didn’t have to do that,” he said. “But, when you get to a point where it’s getting toward tournament time, you want to try and get those good matches in so that you push wrestlers a little bit more.”

The rivalry between the two Renton schools is more of a friendly one, Brown said.

“We are kind of working on that rivalry and getting more involved,” he said. “We are neighbors, so there is a little bit of a pride thing going.”

Liberty falls to Wolverines

The Patriots were even more short-handed as the team went into its Jan. 17 match against Bellevue.

Bellevue defeated Liberty, 60-17, behind a multitude of forfeits for both teams.

“I had only, I think maybe two varsity guys,” Brown said.

There were few highlights for the Patriots in the Bellevue match, except for Small, who won his match with a technical fall.

The Patriots are now squarely focused on preparing for the postseason, reaching the Tacoma Dome and, most importantly, getting healthy.

“We start really working toward tournament time, so we’ve got to get all of this sickness out of the way,” Brown said.

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