By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– When the season started, no one would expect North Salem High School to finish second in Districts or send as many people to state as they did.
But they did.
At State, these Viking Grapplers were one stall call away from forcing overtime as Ian Carlos finished second in the 126 OSAA State Tournament Bracket.
Through it all, North Salem Head Coach Andy Pickett credits his coaches and having a lot of fun for their success.
“It’s phenomenal, really fun. I mean I got a great group of coaches,” said Pickett. “all of my coaches are awesome, they all understand the goal of why we’re here, we’re developing kids on and off the mat. It’s been so much fun, it’s hard to describe because it’s that kind of surreal and this is why we do it.”
“I would say also the season was also really fun because we have a mesh of kids. Not only we’re winning a lot, kids were getting better and better, it was visible. The kids buying in and they do whatever I’ve said.”
Through the season, all of the hard work and sacrifice were paying off. Listening to Coach Pickett and his staff coaching them up and they, as wrestlers, taking it in and making it their own as they found themselves entering Districts.
And when they found out that they finished only second to Sprague, who won their third straight title, it was crazy described Pickett.
“(It was) pretty crazy. I need to check the records but I think that’s the highest place North has ever finished in the region,” said Pickett with a smile. “I knew we had it in us to be up there, so it was really cool, and to get the Coach Of The Year (award) was a cherry on the cake you know.”
The Coach of the Year award was Pickett’s second as head coach at North, but credits getting the award a second time to a team effort with the help of his coaching staff on prepping their team to getting to this point.
The plan moving forward will be to continue to grow upon this foundation of success and continue to carry this momentum into next season with the help of a great offseason program Pickett has planned.
“One of my coaches graduated from (Oregon State University), still in contact with them. We got their offseason weight lifting program and we’re really going to push that on the kids,” said Pickett. “We have to have a successful Spring in order to carry the momentum over and it starts in the weight room, we’re going to hit a bunch of freestyle workouts as well to getting the kids tough. Get into the weight room to get stronger but to.”
Jeremy McDonald is a professional sports journalist in the Salem/Portland area and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalist in Oregon with B.S. degrees from Southern Oregon University in Journalism (2011) and Health/PE (2013). Got a story idea? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @J_McDonald81