The Sidwell Friends wrestling team took down Potomac, 48-24 in a Jan. 30 meet with only three matches wrestled and many more forfeits.
Because of the small size of both teams, there were few weight classes that had wrestlers from both schools. Sidwell prevailed in two of the three matches held, all of which ended in pins. There was a fourth exhibition match between the 113 and 126-pound wrestlers, which Potomac won.
“It was just an unfortunate set of pairings that left us with just the three matches,” Sidwell head coach Joshua Markey said. “That’s always disappointing, for both teams, because you want everybody to match up and get as many matches as possible.”
The Sidwell team has had a thin lineup this season, with a spate of injuries further shrinking the team’s size. Markey said there were wrestlers coming off injuries who he chose not to have wrestle against Potomac. Despite these setbacks, the Quakers only had to forfeit three matches, to Potomac’s six. There were double foreits in two other weight classes.
Sidwell’s lone loss of the night came in the first match, where Potomac’s Sam Lu pinned Ian Palk in the second period. Lu got three successive takedowns in the first period, and came close to pinning Palk. Then, with 38 seconds remaining in the second period, Lu got Palk in a cradle and pinned him. Sidwell then won the next match at 145 pounds when James Shakow pinned Farris Sepulveda with 37 seconds left in the second.
The third and final official match of the night was between Sidwell’s Joey Dunn and Tim Fahlgren of Potomac, wrestling at 152 pounds. The match did not make it past the first period, with Dunn pinning Fahlgren just before time ran out. Dunn recently broke the all-time Sidwell record for career wins, and will wrestle at Washington and Lee University this fall. Dunn’s career record stands at 136-29, and he has gone to the National Preps tournament for the past two years.
“I started wrestling in second grade and I remember my dad used to take me to the high school matches,” Dunn said. “And they had the  Win Club up there. And I remember after I started wrestling, telling my dad that I really wanted to be on that.”
Standing over six-feet-tall, Dunn does not have a typical wrestler’s build. He said he focuses on moves where his height works in his favor, like cradles and low single-leg takedowns.
“It makes neutral harder because guys can really get under me,” Dunn said. “But I’ve learned to live with that. And I think overall it’s made me a much better wrestler, because I have more leverage and more length.”
Dunn hopes to qualify for the National Preps tournament for the third year in a row. To do this, he will have to win his weight class at the upcoming D.C. Classic, where he will drop down to wrestle at 145 pounds.
The Jan. 30 meet against Potomac also served as the team’s senior night and as a tribute to former head coach Lou Heberer, who retired this past summer after more than 30 years coaching the team. This season was Markey’s first as head coach after serving as an assistant coach for nine years.
Markey did not begin wrestling until after college, when he worked as a teacher at a school in New Jersey that was known for its wrestling program. There, he learned to wrestle and after a few years began coaching the junior varsity team. When he came to Sidwell, he became an assistant coach.
“[I] really just want to have a program that’s about growth and resilience and hard work and empathy,” Markey said. “And that good people come out of the program as much as good wrestlers.”
Since taking over, Markey said that he has tried to keep a lot of what Heberer did for the team in place, but has also been reviewing the whole program, including for Sidwell students before they reach high school.
Markey said that the season has been frustrating because of the high number of injuries, but that the remaining wrestlers have stepped up and filled the void. In particular, he said that working with the three senior on the team has been rewarding.
“It’s been fantastic to work with our seniors,” Markey said. “I’m just really proud of the different things that they bring to the table, in terms of leadership and tone. The three of them I think complement one another in a really wonderful way.”