Sports

Men of the mat are back

Jerid Sturman-Camyn takes Klahowya teammate Andy Hedman for a ride during a recent practice. - Photo by Jesse Beals
Jerid Sturman-Camyn takes Klahowya teammate Andy Hedman for a ride during a recent practice.
— image credit: Photo by Jesse Beals

Jerid Sturman-Camyn knows he had a shot to place high at state.

The Klahowya wrestler, who finished seventh at the state 2A Mat Classic last year, came down with an illness right before the tournament, something he thinks prevented him from finishing how he knew he could. But that also has provided him with more motivation to start this year.

“My goal was to take top five (at state) last year,” Sturman-Camyn said. “I feel I would have achieved that if I hadn’t been sick. This year, my goal is to be the state champ. I think it’s pretty achievable with lots of hard work.”

Sturman-Camyn is part of a returning crew of seven state qualifiers that should make Klahowya one of the toughest 2A teams in the state. The Eagles finished 24th last year, after a disappointing second day dropped them from a first-day 12th place finish. KSS coach Brad Hamblet said Sturman-Camyn is a rather important part of taking the squad back to state.

“He’s the highest returning placer from last year,” Hamblet said. “He’s an important person for the kids to be leader. He sets the tone for practice, matches, that sort of thing. I think he’s accepted it pretty well. He knows that because of what he’s achieved, people will look up to him in that role.”

The added leadership is something Sturman-Camyn said he enjoys, as it allows him to give back to the team now and in the future.

“Every day we teach the younger kids what we know” he said. “We want to keep the tradition of winning with them. It’s nice. I like learning from others and passing that on and watching them learn. It’s good for the program too.”

But in addition to his leadership, Hamblet knows what his biggest addition to the team is.

“His strength is just his physical strength,” Hamblet said. “He is pretty determined when he’s on the mat. He’s very good at pinning. He kind of just keeps coming at you. He doesn’t give you much room to rest.”

The future could be now for the Eagles. Among the other returners from state are Brent Collier, Cody Kirkpatrick and Andy Hedman, who actually attends King’s West but wrestles for the Eagles.

“They all have great possibilities,” Hamblet said. “I think Jerid (189 pounds) has a real good chance to place higher. Brent (152), he’s one of our better wrestlers as far as technique and execution of technique go. Andy (171) should be a high placer this year. He’s one we expect to do well. He’s another who just missed being a medalist. Cody (135), he should be a medalist this year. CJ Moen (215) just missed at regionals. He’s got a good chance of qualifying this year.”

The biggest question mark Klahowya has is not so much in the lineup, but behind it. While on the mat, the Eagles will field a completive, experienced squad, those waiting in the wings are still a little rough around the edges, Hamblet said.

“Our team is interesting this year,” Hamblet said. “We’re very young and very experienced. It’s pretty much right down the middle. It’s going to be hard for newcomers to crack the lineup. But I think Selby Woods could come on and be pretty strong for us.”

If the Eagles can stay healthy, they should be near the top of the Nisqually League all season. But Hamblet knows the competition will be tough.

“Vashon is good again,” he said. “They don’t have the same talent as last year, but they’ll have some kids step up. Sequim will be strong. They’ll have some real good kids. North Mason will probably surprise some people. It’s going to be a tough league.”

The Eagles begin their season Thursday with a match at home against Foster. That match is set for 7 p.m.

Central Kitsap looks to take the turn

CK wrestling coach Mike Harter knows his team is a little disappointed about their trip to state as well.

“Unfortunately, the kids that went last year went to get there, not so much to place there,” Harter said. “So that was a little disappointing.”

But he also knows with the new season comes another shot, something he thinks this young team will take advantage of.

“The kids we have now seem to understand when they come into the room, they give 100 percent focus into practice,” Harter said. “We’re a much more mentally tough team. We may not be as skilled a team as we were last year, but they definitely have big potential.”

Harter, in his second year as CK coach, has a young team, but has a few returning seniors that should be strong including Ryan Nunez, Danial Mayfield and Jomer Calma.

“The seniors as a whole are working hard,” Harter said. “We’ve gone a step up in leadership, which is something we lacked last year. We’ve got some young guys also that we’re going to need to step up.”

Two of those young guys are sophomores Black Eickmeyer and Tyler Crittenden. Both are wrestling at the same weight, which Harter said allows them to learn from each other while they learn together.

“Both of them are young guys,” Harter said. “They are at the same weight class, so they’re battling each other. They’ve really set good examples. Other sophomores are really looking up to them.”

But with a young team still in the process of learning the basics, Harter will be relying on his three seniors to take them as far as they can.

“We’re in that process of rebuilding with a young team,” Harter said. “We have some seniors that will have some highlights for us though.

“Daniel could have won his matches (at state), but unfortunately it didn’t work out that way. Our goal is for him to be a state placer this year. If we can get him to that next level, then he should do well at state. Jomer’s mental and physical toughness continues to build. He also needs to take that next step. And Ryan is in the same boat.”

The Narrows League hasn’t gotten any easier, but Harter said the competition will help his young team realize the strides they need to make early in the season.

“We’re going to be competitive,” Harter said. “We’re going to be strong in some weight classes and weak in others. Are we going to go into South (Kitsap) and beat them? Probably not. But we’re gonna compete, and they’ll know we were there.”

The Cougars hit the mats for the first time today for a tournament in Bellingham. But CK will be without most of their key wrestlers.

“Unfortunately, the Bellingham tournament coincides with the SATs,” he said. “All but one of our seniors is taking the SATs (today). So we’ll be taking an inexperienced team up there.”

Harter said that should give some of the young grapplers some good mat time.

“They’ll get exposure to some great competition,” Harter said. “We’re going to have a good time. It’ll be good for those kids to not only get some mat time, but also get the experience against some good teams.”

Oly starts strong in season opener

The Olympic Trojans took the mat for the first time this season Thursday against Bellarmine. And they looked like they didn’t skip a beat, defeating the Lions 45-33 at home.

New Oly coach Rick Griffith said he was very pleased with the opening outcome.

“We had some really key matches,” Griffith said. “Mick (Pilillo) at 119 wrestled very well. Joe (Flores), he’s one of the few juniors on the team. He had an outstanding match.”

Pilillo and Flores each won, joining teammates Andrew Brown (112), Nate McDaniel (135), Ryan Boddy (152), jacob Switzer (171), AJ Weber (215) and Paul Kogut (275) in the winner’s circle.

Griffith said he expects contributions from the key seniors on this team, McDaniel, Brown, Switzer, Weber and Kogut, both on the mat and off. He said Weber, Switzer and Kogut specifically have stepped into a leadership role.

“(Thursday) we started a lot of sophomores,” Griffith said. “AJ kind of rallied them up and had a talk with them and really encouraged them. When the JV kids wrestle, (the seniors) are cheering them on and shaking their hands. So the leadership really goes off the mat.”

McDaniel, who recently returned to the country after moving to California in junior high, should add some needed depth to Oly’s lineup.

“He brings experience to the mat and fills a vital role for us,” Griffith said.

Prior to the match, Griffith said Oly was focusing on the basics, working to master technique.

“Right now, it’s all about drilling,” he said. “We do a lot of short live wrestling. We don’t spend a lot of time talking. And when we do, it’s short, to the point, and about our key techniques and positions. We let our kids work a lot.”

One advantage Oly wrestlers have is the amount of people working with them. Griffith said several people attend the practices to help Oly strengthen up, including Oly’s first state champion, Bobby Manglona, as well as former high school wrestlers Steve Polillo, Nathan Reese and Tim Aiken. He said the younger kids watch the seniors wrestle the assistants, helping them learn at the same time.

“AJ, Jake and Paul have the opportunity to wrestle with other coaches,” Griffith said. “Other kids get to see how hard they work.”

As for the league, aside from South Kitsap, Griffith said no other team clearly stands out. He said he expects Oly to fully be in the mix to get to state.

“South is loaded of course,” he said. “They are going to be tough. And then there are number of teams in th mix that are about even. The league is pretty balanced. I count us right in there. The end result the kids want to see is to get to the state tournament.”

And after a strong start, Griffith said they should be able to achieve those goals through hard work.

“I think we’re in pretty good shape,” he said. “You look at the kids we have and we have a real balanced team. Wrestling is an individual sport, but it’s driven by the team atmosphere.”

The Trojans travel to north Mason tonight for a JV tournament. The next varsity match is Saturday, Dec. 11, when the Trojans will host their team tournament. Klahowya also will participate in that match.

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