When the COVID-19 pandemic shut down high school sports, young athletes everywhere began thinking about what their life would be like beyond sports.
Heading into his senior season, Xavier Eaglin wasn’t sure if he wanted to continue wrestling at the college level. He’s a three-time state placer — and likely would have been a four-time placer at the Mat Classic had he been given the opportunity — and a state champion.
But athletics at the collegiate level is a huge commitment — one he wasn’t sure he was ready to make.
“At first it was a ‘yes,’ because my body hasn’t been 100%,” Eaglin said. “I don’t know if I was ready to take on that commitment to college wrestling.”
But once restrictions lifted and Eaglin got back into the flow of things, there’s a chance he may end up having a change of heart after all.
“Now that I’m getting back into it, maybe I’d like to wrestle in college,” Eaglin said.
Eaglin was successful in all facets of school life in his senior year. He finished up an undefeated campaign with a South Puget Sound League title at 160 pounds and wrapped up his academic career with a 3.99 grade-point average, making him one of the school’s salutatorians. He was the recipient of the $4,000 scholarship from the Maynard Lundberg Education Association and is the Port Orchard Independent’s Male Athlete of the Year for 2021.
Eaglin burst onto the wrestling scene in the 2017-2018 season, becoming the first South Kitsap freshman in school history to win a state wrestling title. Wrestling then at 106 pounds, Eaglin was a surprise champion since he was not the top-ranked wrestler in the bracket, but he knocked off Chase Randall of Mead 9-8 in the 106 finals.
It was a big win for the Wolves, too. Mead was the runner-up and South Kitsap won the 4A team championship. Eaglin finished that year with a 42-5 record.
The successes on the mat continued as he finished fifth at 126 the next year and then reached the 138 finals as a junior, taking home second after a 5-2 loss to Robby Vaughn of Chiawana.
As a senior, he was up to 160 and cruised through the regular season and then pinned all comers at the SPSL championships earlier this month. Instead of ending the season at the Tacoma Dome with an unfamiliar opponent, Eaglin’s career ended with a technical fall victory over his own teammate at the Washington State Fairgrounds.
Eaglin will attend the University of North Dakota next year but plans to apply to the Air Force Academy, which has its own wrestling program. He said he’s going to keep his options open and consider wrestling again if his body feels good.
“I think I will miss it,” Eaglin said.
Past Independent Male Athlete of the Year recipients:
2020: Deyondre Davis
2019: Deyondre Davis
2018: Mason Eaglin
2017: Nolan Van Amen
2016: Albert MacArthur
2015: Marshaud Dewalt
2014: Logan Knowles
2013: Bryce Broome
2012: Eddie Meisner
2011: Conner Hartmann
2010: Gordy Anderson
2009: Leon La Deaux
2008: Matt Foxworthy
2007: Renard Williams
2006: Brent Chriswell & Josiah Kipperberg
2005: Brent Chriswell