Cougars grab Olympic League grappling lead

"By CK-Oly standards, it was anticlimactic.At the beginning of the current wrestling season, it might've been closer. But the Central Kitsap High School wrestling team has powered up since then. And on Thursday night, the Cougars simply were too much for visiting Olympic to handle.The Cougs tied a bow on their 9-0 Olympic League dual meet season by planting a 42-20 whupping on the Trojans and reclaiming - emphatically - both the league title and CK School District bragging rights.Before Christmas, Trojan coach Darryl Smith might've figured this one to be a lot closer. By Thursday, though, the Cougars had worked on all the question marks in their lineup, and found some darn viable answers.The fact that they wrapped up this year's Bucklin Hill rivalry match with three matches still on the card - Garrett Jackson's first-round fall over Luke Switzer at 171 gave them an unsurmountable 36-14 advantage - is evidence of how well they've responded to those questions.I knew we'd be strong at the beginning (of the match), said CK coach Doug Pecha, but I was a little worried about later.As it turned out, though, I was really impressed by our performance. We've found some guys during the season that have really made us solid.The blue-chippers on either side - state veterans Preston Chadwick and Scott Martin for CK and the Trojans' Ozzie Saxon, Justin Fernandez and Justin Breckel - all won, predictably.What happened in the rest of the matches was less predictable - by CK-Oly standards, anyway. At the beginning of the season, Smith could've expected to pick up about half of the toss-up matches, the ones where there was no clear favorite.Nothin' doing Thursday night, though. In basketball parlance, the Cougs beat Oly to all the loose balls.The ones we needed didn't go our way, said Smith, whose team was undefeated, including a 30-27 decision over CK, last year. It wasn't because we didn't give our best effort. They're just real strong.The emergence of some guys who weren't exactly household names at the beginning of the season helped the Cougs to this year's unexpectedly dominant victory. First-year seniors Chad Johnson at 145 pounds - a non-factor earlier in his career because of injury - and Cole Davis at 160 - who hadn't turned out for wrestling since seventh grade - both provided key wins in the middle of the lineup that kept Oly from making it close.Having those guys come along really helped us a lot, said Pecha. We're stronger all through our lineup than I thought we'd be before the season.The Cougars broke ahead 13-0 in the first three weights, anchored by reigning Mat Classic champion Chadwick's first-round pin at 112 pounds.But the Trojans stemmed the tide, Doug Cutrone winning a physical matchup with Will Villareal at 125 with a second-round pin. Villareal was a last-minute sub for Joseph Sencil, who was diagnosed with ringworm and had to bow out at the prematch weigh-in.Saxon followed with a major decision, and suddenly it was 13-10. Oly was seconds from tying the score, with Mitch Urrutia holding a 4-3 lead over Marlon Bascom at 135, when Bascom scored a reversal with two seconds remaining to claim the decision.Martin followed with a first-round pin and Johnson scored an energetic 15-7 victory over Trojan sophomore Mike Anglada to enlarge the lead. And after Fernandez' major decision at 152, Davis countered with a solid 10-2 win over Darrin Jones. That set up Jackson for the clincher, and he obliged by shouldering Luke Switzer 1 minute, 45 seconds into their match.Breckel's pin of Richard Lowe, coming with two seconds left in the first round, helped make the final score a little less one-sided.The positive spin is that now a lot of our young guys have grown to appreciate the intensity of high school wrestling, said Smith, whose team finished league duals with a 7-2 record, and the intensity of this rivalry.Both Johnson and Davis started the season in relative obscurity, but made big noises with their key victory in the Cougars' 35-30 victory over previously unbeaten Sequim the week before their clash with Oly.This year's been a good learning experience, said Johnson, who missed his sophomore season with broken leg. I had surgery on my leg when I was a junior so I'd be sure to be ready for my senior year. It's just been a matter of getting back into it and getting focused.At first I just wanted to get prepared for soccer, and then it was to get some varsity experience, Davis said. It feels good to get here and actually be able to help out."

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