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First-year Rogers coach brings enthusiasm

Martin Mitchell is right where he wants to be – coaching wrestlers at Rogers.

In his first-year as Pirates head coach, he has two wrestlers, 171-pound finalist Josh Whitaker and 135-pounder Chris Douglas, in Mat Classic XXIII this weekend in Tacoma.

“I’m in the program where I wanted to be right now – a fixer-upper,” Mitchell said. “When I heard Rogers opened, I applied and they were willing to take a chance on a 28-year-old kid with a lot of enthusiasm.”

Mitchell is member of a special club in Washington state history, the elite individuals with four state championships.

Wrestling in Tonasket at the 1A/B and 2A classifications, he won titles in four weights between 103 and 130 pounds from 1998 through 2001, unbeaten against wrestlers within the state and 141-3 for his career.

The new Pirate wrestled four years at the University of Oregon, decided he wanted to teach and coach and is in the process of completing his degree at Eastern Washington University. He learned while assisting at North Idaho College and East Valley before landing the head job. Rogers won just one Greater Spokane League dual, but the Pirates proved competitive.

“I lucked out and it’s been a blast,” Mitchell said. “We’ve really made gains and next year is going to be exciting.”

Shadle on a roll

University is the likely State 3A title team favorite, don’t discount the postseason effort of Shadle Park.

“We have a lot going for us right now and it has not been an easy road,” coach Shawn Howard said of the Highlanders.

Four seniors who have been part of Howard’s building program since he took over at Shadle are ranked top five statewide in their weight classes, including returning placers Darren Bunke at 140 and Dylan Lemery at 189. Kole Nuehs and Luke Miller are the others.

Bunke can become Shadle’s first three-time state placer. Lemery upset U-Hi’s Dustin Johnson for last weekend’s regional title.

For the first time, two sophomores qualified for state – Terrence McKinney (112) and Cameron Babcock (189).

“I strongly believe we have something special going on right now,” Howard said