The past two years, the Langley High wrestling team has made holiday time trips to the Minneapolis area to compete in high-level tournaments consisting of some of the better high-school teams in the nation. This season, Saxons coach John Belyea elected to change things up a bit. Instead of going to the twin cities, Langley was scheduled to make a trip to Kansas City, Dec. 18-21.
There, Langley will take part in the Cliff Keen Wrestling Classic, another renowned holiday time tournament made up of some of the better teams nationally. There were scheduled to be at least 35 teams there, according to Belyea.
The successful coach, who over the years has built Langley wrestling into a Northern Region power, said his teams benefited greatly from competing at the Minnesota Christmas Classic the past two years, but that the Saxons were looking for something different this season.
"We’ve gone to Minneapolis the last two years," he said. "We’re trying [the Kansas City] tournament out [this time]. There are a lot of nationally ranked teams in there."
The squad, Belyea said, enjoys the cross-country travel. Following the Minneapolis trip, Langley also has plans to make team trips to Greenville, Del., Dec. 27-28 and Dallas, Jan. 2-3.
"We always have fun on the trips we take," Belyea said. "We make the wrestling a priority."
<b>LANGLEY</b> has a good mix of returning wrestlers and younger team members on its varsity squad this season. The Saxons are coming off a second-place finish in the region a year ago. Two years ago, the Saxons won the region.
Langley’s two team captains this winter are seniors David Helmer (152-weight class) and Scott Jones (heavyweight).
Helmer is the defending state AAA champion at 152.
"He’s a hard working kid and very tough," Belyea said. "He has refined his techniques the last four years and really become an all-around wrestler."
Jones won a Liberty District title at heavyweight last year before finishing fifth in the region, barely missing out on a state bid.
"Scott’s a great kid and has come a long way," Belyea said. "He’s a great captain and leader, as is Davey. They are leaders by example and hard workers."
Langley’s other returning district champion, along with Helmer and Jones, is junior Anthony Kotoriy (103-weight class).
Sophomore Matt Wilson (119), meanwhile, is a returning district runner-up wrestler.
Belyea said the Langley squad, the defending Liberty District champion, will work hard to maintain its status as one of the region’s elite teams.
"We’ve got a lot of new kids on the team and we have a lot of work to do to perform to our expectations," said Belyea, whose team finished fifth at states last year. "Our expectations every year are to win districts and regionals. We train to win in the postseason."