A banner hung on the wall inside the wrestling gym at Sumner High stares down upon the wrestling team lists the virtues of what it takes to compete.
“Be STRONG when you are weak … be BRAVE when you are scared … be HUMBLE when you are victorious … be BAD-A everyday,” the banner reads.
For captains Josiah Schliesman and Tucker Wooding, it’s a motto these two Spartans have taken to heart.
Growth and determination has been on the forefront of Schiesman’s mind since his quarterfinals pinfall loss to North Central’s Bryson Pierce (2 minutes, 16 seconds) in the 170-pound state bracket at Mat Classic XXVII inside the Tacoma Dome last February.
Moments after that defeat, Schliesman only had one thing to say: “Disappointing.”
“I had high expectations going in, and the guy I faced was tough,” Schliesman said. “I guess I wasn’t as confident as I should have been going into it … but I was able to get myself in the right mind frame to win the consolation bracket.”
From that moment on, Schliesman was a madman, rifling off four consecutive victories to take home third place.
“I’ve known him a long time. We’re close friends, and I’ve seen him more determined this year,” Wooding said of his teammate.
It’s a common sight to see Schliesman and Wooding leading Sumner wrestling each practice. With only a clap to change up drills, the captains quietly push their teammates to improve.
It’s never been just about individual glory for Schliesman during his career. It’s always been about that banner and what it means to this team.
“Closing my season out with another league title is what we’re focused on right now,” Scliesman said. “It’s everyone’s goal here.”
Better than ever
Schliesman enters the week as the second-ranked wrestler at 182 pounds for Class 3A. Wooding is ranked fifth in 132 pounds.
For Schliesman, the ranking is nothing new; he’s always faced high expectations. The only difference is the self admission about not being fully ready last year.
“I’m more confident this year,” he admitted. “I feel like I understand myself more, and what it will take to get to where I need to be.”
After falling to qualify for the state tournament last season, Wooding has taken off this season. No longer did he want to sit back and watch his teammates when it mattered most. It became about joining them.
“It’s my final year, so I thought it was time to step it up,” Wooding said. “We’re just working hard to accomplish everything we have goals for … we want the league title and we want to wrestle at state.”
“Tucker’s improved more than anyone I’ve seen,” Schliesman added.
Winning another league title will be tough for Sumner (3-1 SPSL) as the Spartans have tough competition with Enumclaw (4-0), Bonney Lake (3-1) and Auburn (3-1) — all strong programs that will make the path to a title a difficult one.
“It’s a tough league, but I think we have what it takes to win it,” Wooding said. “We’re determined each and every day.”
A determination to be better than the day before.
“It’s about being at your best when it matters most,” Schliesman said.