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There's hope for area wrestlers
Central Kitsaps loaded with depth, Olympics got experience and Klahowyas got promise.
Of course, the wrestling teams from the Central Kitsap School District have all got hope.
Central Kitsap lost just three duals and produced three state champions the past three years under Doug Pecha, who left Cougarville to take over the highly-successful mat program at Tahoma.
The transition from Pecha to Jim Northcutt, the former assistant who also runs the junior high program at Central Kitsap Junior High, has been a smooth one.
"In the four years Ive been (at Central), its the best group of kids," Northcutt said. "Ive got 35 kids who work hard. Ive had most of these kids since junior high. They know my philosophy: Work hard and get rewarded."
Central might not have individual stars like theyve had in recent years, but they could by the end of the season.
"Well be ready," Northcutt said, referring to the postseason state tournament-run. "Were so deep, especially from 130 to 152. Ive got a logjam."
Centrals full strength probably wont come to the forefront until then. Northcutt expects some of his No. 2 kids to be factors at the sub-regional and regional levels.
The Cougars went unbeaten in the Olympic League a year ago and could challenge South Kitsap, which has won 86 straight league meets, for Narrows League Bridge Division honors.
Central produced four champions at the Tahoma Takedown Tournament earlier this month - Jason Mendez (130), Shane Powell (145), Josh Martinelli (160) and Tyler Moyer (189), a sophomore who could turn some heads this season. Moyers a three-time state freestyle champ.
Powell, who went to regionals last year, had to beat teammate Rusty Hedman, a state qualifier two years ago, in a challenge match for the right to compete at Tahoma.
Thats the kind of depth Im talking about," Northcutt said. "Its kind of old school. If a kid misses, he knows hell lose his spot."
Mendez, a senior, is CKs only state returner. Junior Chad Eickmeyer (135) was an alternate to state.
Tyler Cowgill (152), Mike Frerichs (140/145) and Donnie DeRusha (135) all placed among the top four at the state freestyle tournament.
Junior Jason Stencil (140) and senior Josh Thompson (112), who wrestled CKs 103-pound state champ Lawrence Ng at practice the past three years, are also among the Cougs best.
Olympics got a veteran team that can put an experienced wrestler at every weight except 130. Five of the Trojans 14 starters are seniors. Olympic also figures to be pretty deep, considering it has 48 wrestlers out.
The Switzer brothers - senior Luke at 160 and junior Clyde at 171 - and Darrin Jones, a senior at 189, give the Trojans alot of strength through that part of the lineup. Along with junior Shane Villanueva, at 145, those are the Trojans best bets to make it to state.
Luke Switzers a three-year letterman who made it to regionals a year ago. "His record was not all that good last year, but of the eight medal winners at state last year in his weight, Luke wrestled six of them," Olympic coach Darryl Smith said. "Lukes got good experience and good technique. He works really, really hard and hes in good shape. I think hes going to have a really good season."
Smith thinks Alex Jaime (103), a former basketball player who didnt turn out for wrestling until last season, is going to be tough.
Klahowya, which ended up forfeiting five or six weight classes last season, is getting closer to fielding a full squad.
"Were not quite a full team, but were closer," Eagles coach Jon Cooke said.
The Eagles have 19 wrestlers out, including nine sophomores.
"Thats the biggest sophomore class weve ever had and four or five of those kids have real promise," said Cooke. "Im excited. Were going to be kind of young this year, but were looking for good things in years to come, thats for sure."
Two sophomores - Ryan Fitz (112) and Chad Vidinhar (119) - won their varsity debuts against Port Townsend.
Klahowya junior Dean Merker (160) came within a match of reaching state a year ago, and senior Matt Adams (135) made it to regionals a year ago.
Joe Gombos (140), a senior transfer from Illinois, has the potential to get to state this year, said Cooke.
COUGARS AT A GLANCE
Coach - Jim Northcutt (1st year).
Last year - 8-0 Olympic League.
Returners - Jason Mendez, sr., 130; Chad Eikmeyer, jr., 135; Josh Martinelli, jr. 152/160; Jason Stencil, jr., 140; Josh Thompson, sr., 112; Rusty Hedman, sr., 145; Mike Frerichs, jr., 140/145; Donnie DeRusha, jr., 135.
Top newcomers - Tyler Moyers, so., 189; Tyler Cowgill, so., 152; Ryan Poppe, so., 119/125; Austin Templeton, so., 103; Tyson Hicks, so., 112; Will Grey, jr., 152; Scott Jennings, so., 275.
TROJANS AT A GLANCE
Coach - Darryl Smith (22nd year).
Last year - 7-1 Olympic League.
Returners - Luke Switzer, sr., 160; Clyde Switzer, jr., 171; Darrin Jones, sr., 189; J.J. Zettle, sr., 135; Shane Villanueva, jr., 145; Ryan Wheeler, jr., 119; Gy Beck, jr., 112; Josh Allbee, jr., 275; Nathan Reese, sr., 112.
Top newcomers - Alex Jaime, jr., 103; Ryan Benko, so., 125; Kendall Carrier, so., 140; Robert Cook, so., 215; Ian Willa, sr., 275; Corey Bower, jr., 152; Cody Gap, so., 152; Joe Joslyn, so., 145; Mike Anglada, sr., 145/152; Joel Hansen, sr., 125; Brandon Shaw, sr., 152.
EAGLES AT A GLANCE
Coach - Jon Cooke (5th year).
Last year - 2-10-1.
Returners - Dean Merker, jr., 160; Matt Adams, sr., 135; Mike Healy, sr., 160; Chris Davis, jr, 130; John Joyce, sr., 152.
Top newcomers - Joe Gombos, sr., 140; Ryan Fitz, so., 112; Dustin Carlson, so., 125; Wilson McDonald, sr., 125; Joe Frasquillo, so., 103; Eric Large, so., 190; Chad Vidinhar, so., 119; Randy Weir, so., 140; Chaise Truini, so., 152.