Frustrating finish for Frerichs

TACOMA — One minute, he was wrestling for a state championship.

The next minute, it was like Mike Frerichs never existed.

The Central Kitsap junior was hit with a controversial flagrant misconduct penalty with 30 seconds left in his 140-pound title scrap against Kentwood’s Brandon Hunter. He was ejected from the tournament.

At first, when Hunter was declared “winner by default” over the Tacoma Dome’s public address system, most assumed Frerichs couldn’t continue because of an injury to his left shoulder.

Safety, however, wasn’t the issue.

Hunter had been ruled winner by disqualification, not default.

Frerichs, trailing 7-2 at the time, was DQ’d for using profanity. He dropped a couple of f-bombs and the second one, according to 4A meet co-managers Shelly Thiel and Marty Fortin, was directed at official Terry Cochran.

That meant no second-place medal for Frerichs and the 20 points he earned in the tournament were wiped away, denying Central Kitsap a top-10 team finish.

Needless to say, the ruling created quite an uproar, especially in the CK camp.

Central Kitsap coach Jim Northcutt pulled out the rule book and argued, to no avail, with tournament officials.

“It was a judgement call, and therefore non-protestable,” Thiel said.

“If somebody throws a punch or is being unnecessarily rough, but for swearing, I’ve never seen that,” said Doug Pecha, the Tahoma coach who was at Central Kitsap a year ago. “That’s pretty harsh ... to throw him right out of the tournament.”

Thiel and Fortin defended the decision.

“See that banner, the ‘Just Play Fair,’ banner,” Thiel said, pointing toward the roof of the Tacoma Dome. “The last few years, there’s been a real emphasis and push for the Just Play Fair program. The situation that occurred here was a case where the heat of the battle got to the young man and he was charged with a flagrant misconduct.

“And that was swearing ... and when it’s directed at the official, that’s totally unacceptable. That’s it in a nutshell.”

Frerichs was trailing 5-2 early in the third period when Kentwood’s Hunter got a takedown and was working toward a near fall. Frerichs, his left shoulder torqued out of shape, battled to avoid being turned over. He was in obvious pain when the match was stopped to check on a possible injury. Frerichs, at that point, cursed, but wasn’t penalized.

When the match resumed, Frerichs let out another expletive. This time, the official made a judgement call, ending the match and ejecting Frerichs from the tournament.

“The games committee saw it immediately and went to investigate it,” Fortin said. “We discussed it and went back and checked with the officials again to make sure it was a flagrant misconduct.”

Thiel added, “There’s nobody out here, including the official, who wants this type of thing to happen, but it was out of his control. It was in the young man’s control.”

When it came time to award the 140-pound medals, the empty spot on the podium for second place was conspicuous.

Frerichs ducked under the stands at the Tacoma Dome when he realized the impact of the final ruling.

Minutes before, the red-eyed Cougar was disappointed, but talked graciously about his opponent.

“That’s a smart wrestler,” Frerichs said. “I don’t think he was better than me. I guess he just wanted it more.”

Despite his sore shoulder, Frerichs wanted the opportunity to wrestle the final 30 seconds.

“I could have thrown him,” he said of his signature home-run move. “I might not have, but I was only behind five points.”

Earler in the day, CK assistant Rick Jackson talked about Frerichs.

“He’s a gamer. He keeps coming hard, no matter how far ahead or behind he is,” Jackson said. “He’s always into the match, even if it’s the last 20 seconds.”

Some have called Frerichs intimidating, but Jackson said it’s not by design.

“That’s just his personality,” he said. “What he does is take the other guys out of their game plan. He messes ’em up so much, he confuses ’em.”

Confusion reigned after his last match.

Nobody condoned Frerichs’ language, but there seemed to be a consensus among officials and coaches that Mad Mike had gotten a raw deal.

“If it was my match, I’d have given him an unsportsmanlike and docked him a point after the first time,” said one official who cupped his hands and mouthed the words: “He (Frerichs) got screwed.”

Central had been docked two team points on the first day of the tournament when 152-pounder Josh Martinelli threw a temper tantrum after losing his consolation match.

So the Cougars, who already had a little bit of an “us against the world,” attitude coming into the tournament, came out of it with an even bigger chip on their shoulders.

“We’ll be the real thug squad next year,” said an angry Northcutt, vowing to come back looking for revenge. “It’s only going to get worse because we’re going to have numbers.”

Frerichs was one of five CK underclassmen to make it to the Dome this year.

Central’s lone senior, Jason Mendez at 130 pounds, was considered the Cougars’ best bet for a championship. But Mendez’s title dream ended with a 9-5 quarterfinal loss to eventual runner-up Mike Roggenkamp of Enumclaw.

“It took all night to get over that, especially losing to a guy I’d already beaten,” said Mendez the following day. “In my mind, I should have beaten him, but he was more aggressive. I wanted it, but it just wasn’t there.”

Mendez recovered to place fourth, winning three straight consolation matches before falling 4-2 to Pasco’s Cody Sanford.

Junior Chad Eickmeyer, pinned by eventual champ Ariel Garza of Moses Lake in the quarterfinals at 135, dug down to win his final four matches, including a 14-12 overtime decision over Chris Fisher of Heritage to finish third. Eickmeyer and Mendez both finished the season 35-4.

Martinelli and Tyler Moyer (189) were out in three matches. Donnie DeRusha, who came out of nowhere to win a regional title at 135, lost two straight.

Olympic’s Josh Allbee (275) was out in two straight, losing his first match by pin to eventual champion Justin Moody of East Valley-Spokane.

Klahoway’s Matt Adams (135) lost two straight in the 2A tournament.

Bremerton’s Adam Gent (171) and Eric Smith (135), ousted by Eickmeyer 11-6, lasted three matches.

South Kitsap’s Derek Kipperberg (119) was West Sound’s only wrestler to make it to the top of the championship podium.

Frerichs never made it to the podium, but he knows — even if the W.I.A.A. won’t recognize him — that he was a finalist in the state tournament.

“We had a good tournament regardless of the (Frerichs) situation,” Northcutt said. “We learned a lot. We’re a young, rebuilding team. We’re going to stay here for a while.”

Frerichs, like always, wore his trusty camouflage pants and black hooded sweatshirt with the nickname “Snake,” on his back.

“He strikes quick like a snake,” said his father, Tom Frerichs, a lieutenant commander in the Navy. “One of the kids started calling him that and Mike liked it.”

Frerichs blew into the finals with three impressive wins, stopping Ryan Erickson of Battle Ground 10-5 and Tom Watson of University 9-4 to reach the semis. There, Frerichs put Auburn’s highly-regarded Kenny McNeese on his back with an over-and-under, hip throw. Frerichs won by pin in 1:40.

“Now everybody knows who Mike Frerichs is,” shouted Northcutt after that match.

If they didn’t then, they do now.

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