The building, which isn’t more than an oversized garage with just four simplistic walls and a roof stands on the fringe of the Adna High School parking lot.
During the spring, batting cages will occupy the space inside, but for now, it’s home to the Pirate’s wrestling program, which has proven to be one of the tops in the 2B ranks over the last few years.
What makes this building unique, however, is the talent that’s created here.
Last year, Adna had just six wrestlers on its roster. Half competed for state titles, giving the Pirates one of the highest numbers of state placers per capita regardless of classification among any school in the state.
“I’m not sure why,” Adna head coach Craig Ferrier said, “but we just don’t seem to get the kids out for wrestling.”
For those who do opt to turn out, Ferrier has a stellar track record over the last few seasons of turning them into either high state placers or state champions.
In 2019, the Pirates placed 10th overall in the team standings with just three and a half points out of seventh place, despite the low turnout.
Then junior Lucas Ashley claimed the 152-pound state title, while seniors Matthew Slape (160 pounds) and Ashton Dowell (172) both took home second-place finishes.
Two years ago, Dowell was the first Adna wrestler ever to win a state championship. Ashley was the second.
“Seeing Ashton win his junior year kind of made me realize how much more I needed to learn,” said Ashley, who credits competing every day against Dowell and Slape for three years as a big reason he was able to win a state title. “When I think about the Adna wrestling room, I just think about all the times I used to lose to Ashton and Matthew. I lost to them for a long time here, which actually really helped.”
All the in-house defeats more than paid off in 2019 as Ashley, who also finished fourth as a sophomore in 2018, stormed through the bracket on his way to the state finals, registering pins in his state quarterfinal and semifinal matchups. In the state title match, he handily defeated Lake Roosevelt senior Tony Nichols, 8-1, to join Dowell on the shortlist of Adna state wrestling champions.
“It was a lot to take in all at once,” said Ashley, who also won a handful of freestyle state championships as a pre-teen, but lists winning the high school state title as his favorite wrestling experience to date. “My goal when I first started at Adna was just to place,” he says. “After my sophomore year, it was just to win it all by the time I graduated.”
Now a senior, Ashley redefined his goals as he now wants to become the Pirate’s first two-time state titlist. The only remaining question is what weight class that will come in? Odds are it won’t be in the 152-pound weight division.
“He really spent a lot of time in the offseason trying to bulk up. He is so strong,” Ferrier said about Ashley, who was a second-team all-league defensive lineman in football for the Pirates this past fall.
“He’s wrestled at 195 pounds this season. Since he was in football, he was about two weeks behind (in wrestling training). He wrestled both tournaments we’ve competed in at 195 and he absolutely dominated, not just technique-wise, but physically. He steps out there at 182, 183 (pounds) and wrestles guys who are cutting to make 195 and absolutely, physically dominates them.”
According to Ashley, he expects to wrestle at either 160 or 170 by season’s end. Regardless of what weight class he competes in, he will be a threat to take home his second title.
“He’s just a different kind of wrestler,” Ferrier said. “When Lucas wrestles he is never afraid to lose. So, he will take chances. He’ll do things that a lot of people wouldn’t do. Sometimes I’m wondering, ‘What is he going to do now?’ But if he decides to do a move and he hits it hard it usually pays off. If it works, it works. If it doesn’t, he always seems to find a way to get out of it.”
The Pirates host a tournament on January 7 before hitting the road to close out the regular season. Adna is scheduled to participate in the Sgt. Norton Memorial Tournament at Rainier High School on January 18 and the Willapa Harbor Invitational Tournament on January 25.