Wolves trounce muddled Cougars

Josh Martinelli (top) gave up nearly 30 pounds to South Kitsap’s Casey Watkins on Tuesday night, but still managed to score an 11-4 decison as the pair met Tuesday in the 189-pound weight bracket. Martinelli, who usually competes in the 160 class, had to wrestle up as CK shuffled its lineup to avoid a number of forfeits. - Photo by Rogerick Anas
Josh Martinelli (top) gave up nearly 30 pounds to South Kitsap’s Casey Watkins on Tuesday night, but still managed to score an 11-4 decison as the pair met Tuesday in the 189-pound weight bracket. Martinelli, who usually competes in the 160 class, had to wrestle up as CK shuffled its lineup to avoid a number of forfeits.
— image credit: Photo by Rogerick Anas

PORT ORCHARD — The Central Kitsap High School wrestling team came in with hopes of ending South Kitsap’s stranglehold in the Narrows League, but left the near-capacity South Kitsap gym dejected Tuesday night.

CK, ranked No.3 in the state, and SK entered the match undefeated in dual matches this season.

But winning the Narrows League Bridge Division title wasn’t at the top of CK’s list.

What CK wanted most was to put an end to SK’s 103 consecutive wins in Narrows League dual meets.

While the Cougars may have the better chance of doing well at the state tournament behind the strong talent in the middle weights, the Wolves proved depth in a program is what wins dual meets.

CK coach Jim Northcutt tried everything he could to put his team in position to win Tuesday night, but when 215-pounder Scott Jennings was unable to go, Northcutt said he had no choice but to push his horses up in weight.

CK state hopefuls Mike Frerichs (normally 145 pounds) wrestled Jacob Kathan at 160 pounds; Chad Eickmeyer (normally 135) wrestled Pat Kelly at 145 pounds; Jason Sencil (normally 140) wrestled John Cisney at 152 pounds; and Josh Martinelli (normally 152) wrestled Casey Watkins at 189 pounds.

CK also had up and coming wrestler Mike Custer (usually 160) wrestle up at 171 pounds despite having two fingers on his laft hand taped up after dislocating his pinky three days before.

SK coach Ron Hudiburg didn’t think it was a good strategy for CK to push its wrestlers up.

Northcutt, on the other hand, felt his hands were tied.

“I don’t know why they did that,” Hudiburg said. “It was a dumb idea. I wouldn’t have done that.”

Northcutt said he didn’t have wrestlers at 171, 189, or 215, so the possibility of forfeits didn’t favor well with him.

“The only way to make it competitive is to move those guys up or forfeit five weights and I can’t do that,” Northcutt said. “We’ve wrestled those guys head to head already. I knew we weren’t going to get many pins, but if we hung in there and got a pin at heavyweight we might have had a shot.”

Both coaches agreed the match at 140 pounds between SK’s Craig Senter and CK’s Donny DeRusha was the pivotal matchup of the night.

DeRusha, who lost to Micah Kipperberg at the SK Invite last Saturday in the 135-pound division, wrestled up five pounds to take on Senter.

“I thought Donny would win,” Northcutt said. “That’s the only person I thought could go up against Senter.”

“I expected to beat them at (135) but I didn’t know about (140),” Hudiburg said. “DeRusha was a regional champion last year and Senter went out and got a big win right there. That really was the whole match.”

Senter won by major decision 12-1.

That win coupled with Kipperberg’s pin against Travis Towne in the opening matchup, gave SK an early 10-0 lead.

“Once we had those 10 points there I wasn’t too worried from then on,” Hudiburg said.

How SK did against the middle weights dictated how the dual match would turn out.

Kelly lost a tight one to Eickmeyer 12-9, Cisney scored a 19-10 major decision over Sencil, Kathan barely lost to Frerichs 5-4, Custer came back with an 8-4 decision against Jon Potts, and Martinelli scored an 11-4 decision against Watkins.

“It was painful,” Custer said afterwards while holding a bag of ice on his hand. “It was the most pain I’ve ever felt while wrestling.”

After those matches concluded, SK still held a narrow 14-12 advantage.

Devin Spencer (215) gave SK some breathing room with a pin in 2 minutes, 25 seconds against 189-pound Daniel Mayfield.

SK’s Clayton Hutchins held on for a 6-5 decision over Robert McNamara, but CK’s Austin Templeton pulled the Cougars back within five points at 23-18 with a pin against Jake Iuliano at 103 pounds.

Because SK sophomore Jacob Coppinger was sick, Brandon Kelly wrestled up at 119 pounds and SK’s Derek Lyman stepped in at 112 pounds, though he didn’t have to wrestle as he won by forfeit.

Brandon Kelly had the most intense match of the night against CK’s Ryan Nunez.

The duo traded points throughout the bout.

Brandon Kelly trailed 13-11 late but scored an escape point and then a takedown to lead 14-13 with a minute to go.

Brandon Kelly appeared to have the win but Nunez slipped out of his grasp at the buzzer for the escape point, though there was a controversy whether he escaped in time.

SK held a 29-21 lead going into the final two matches.

Dustin Johnson (125), SK’s best hope for a state berth, improved his record to 24-2 with a 13-2 major decision over Mike Fisher.

SK’s James Thompson (130) rounded out the scoring with technical fall against Wes Brisbon.

Eickmeyer, who has battled against Pat Kelly since junior high, said he had mixed emotions about the final dual meet of his prep career.

“It’s my senior year so I would’ve liked to win,” said Eickmeyer, who upped his season record to a perfect 20-0 . “But it wasn’t our day to wrestle. Our game plan was to push everybody up 10 pounds. It shows we need to work on stuff and we’ve got state coming up. This stuff in three weeks, who cares if South beat CK? I’ll remember being at the Tacoma Dome a lot longer.”

Hudiburg said he expects CK to do well at state this year.

“They’ve got more state strength than we have,” Hudiburg said. “We’re a good balanced dual team and we’re very young. We’re really looking next year to make a run at it.”

Despite those words, a handful of SK seniors have plans to get back to the state tournament one last time.

Pat Kelly and Kipperberg are both seniors that would like to improve upon just getting to state.

This is Spencer’s last chance at tasting the state tournament. He almost made it last year but had to settle as an alternate.

Kipperberg said the mindset changes after the dual meet season.

“The last three months were for the team,” Kipperberg said. “These last few weeks are more individual and you just try to take it as far as we can.”

Pat Kelly said its all cutthroat the rest of the season.

“Now you just have to fight basically for your life,” Pat Kelly said. “If you lose, you’re going home.”

— Sean Lamphere contributed to this report.

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