Gilbertson’s web site offers a comprehensive look at wrestling statewide
He’s not exactly Batman, but Dave Gilbertson is somewhat of a modern day superhero.
By day the unassuming doctor runs the Mill Creek Chiropractic clinic. By night he is the mastermind behind one of the oldest websites that you’ll see, dating back to the mid 1990s— the dawn of the cyber age.
Snohomish County wrestling enthusiasts will recognize the name and possibly Gilbertson’s face straightaway, since he has been involved in the sport locally ever since he was in middle school. He grew up in Snohomish and became deeply involved when his kids jumped onto the mat at the USA Everett wrestling club.
Gilbertson runs WashingtonWrestlingReport.com, the definitive website with results, rankings and information for high school wrestling in the state.
Gilbertson himself wasn’t anything special as a wrestler at Snohomish. “I was an average wrestler,” he said. “Nothing great. Won more than I lost, but that’s about it.”
His son Jonny, on the other hand became a special wrestler in his career at Cascade high school and beyond at the national level.
Jonny’s rise in the sport coincided with the rise of the site. At first Jonny just wanted to play with the big kids like his older brother.
“On the first day, the little one ran out on the mat and said he was wrestling,” Dave said. “The coach told him he wasn’t old enough, but he wouldn’t get off the mat. At the end of practice the coach said he paid more attention than any of the older guys, so he could stay.”
The rest was history for both Jonny and Dave, who a few years later begin experimenting for a little something called the Internet that was just taking a foothold in homes across the country.
“When I first got on the Internet (around 1995), I remember learning you could set up a webpage,” Gilbertson said. “I’m kind of a techie, so I was playing with it and I put something up about AAU nationals when he was about seven or eight and he got second. So, I wrote a little thing up and put up a website for fun. I doubt anybody read it or saw it but me.”
Soon he was posting results for all the USA Everett kids, who ranged from five to 12 years old. At that time the domain was usawrestling.com and he set up a message board so that parents and people affiliated with the team could communicate.
In those days, Dave had to manually input all the brackets and publish them on Sundays. It’s a laborious task if you’ve ever seen a Wrestling bracket, full of consolations and scores for an entire tournament.
Suddenly people from all over Washington started visiting the site because there was no other way to get such comprehensive results.
Around eight years ago, he changed the domain name to Washington Wrestling Report. About the same time, he started officiating wrestling. Today he does national freestyle finals and is rated M1—the highest level a wrestling official can achieve.
The site’s rankings come mostly from scouring the brackets of every wrestling tournament in the state. It’s a process that he used to do alone, but now has a team of volunteers that handle each classification. Gilbertson now only puts together the all-class rankings himself.
“There’s a lot of time that goes into keeping it going,” Gilbertson said. “But I’ve been able to delegate a lot out to volunteers lately because otherwise I’d burn out.”
He’s not quitting anytime soon, however. Even though people ask him the same question they ask him at the Chiropractic office that he’s maintained for 29 years, ‘When are you going to retire?’ Like your average pro athlete his answer is pretty standard for both the website and his practice.
When it stops being fun is when he’ll pack it in.
“What keeps me going is I like being involved with the wrestling community,” Gilbertson said. “There’s a lot of positive feedback I get from folks. They like having (the site) as a resource. I like to give back to wrestling. I like to give back to my community period and this is a good way to do that for me.”
Gilbertson is a talkative guy but he really takes it up a level when you start talking about the best wrestlers in the state, many of which he says can be found in Snohomish County this year. He likes Lake Stevens in the Wesco North and Edmonds-Woodway in the South. Defending state champion (145 pounds) Cam Wade of Archbishop Murphy is one of his highest-ranked wrestlers in all classifications and weight classes.
You want to know how to move up in the rankings and catch Gilbertson’s eye? Prove it on the mat, preferably in a big tournament, because he and his team will be watching — or at least checking the scores.
“It’s not based on who I think is best,” Gilbertson said. “It’s based on who beat who at that time.”
Parents’ grumbling about rankings is about the only negative aspect of maintaining the site. But it is more the exception than the rule and it doesn’t bother him too much.
“When I run into folks at tournaments that say, ‘Thanks for doing the website’ and ‘We like the way you do things.’ That kind of positive feedback keeps me going,” Gilbertson said.
And that means the website will likely keep going for a long time.