Sports

12 headed to state

Central Kitsap’s Tyler Crittenden puts the pressure on Shelton’s Ty Barnhart en route to a 6-5 win in a winner-to-state, loser-out consolation semifinal. Crittenden would take third overall at the tourney. Crittenden beat Barnhart 4-3 in a January dual meet. - Photo by Jesse Beals
Central Kitsap’s Tyler Crittenden puts the pressure on Shelton’s Ty Barnhart en route to a 6-5 win in a winner-to-state, loser-out consolation semifinal. Crittenden would take third overall at the tourney. Crittenden beat Barnhart 4-3 in a January dual meet.
— image credit: Photo by Jesse Beals

TACOMA — Four wrestlers will see their careers come to an end at the 2005 4A WIAA Mat Classic this weekend at the Tacoma Dome.

For Olympic seniors Ben Pierce and AJ Weber and Central Kitsap seniors Dan Mayfield and Ryan Nunez, this weekend represents more than just a state placing. It represents the culmination of years of hard work, sweat and dedication. And that could be what makes them so dangerous.

Olympic advanced just Pierce and Weber in a somewhat disappointing showing at the 4A Region 3 tourney at Foss High School last weekend, while CK also sends sophomore Tyler Crittenden in an effort that left the Cougars almost all smiles. Olympic finished in ninth place with 74 points while CK was tenth with 54.5. Battle Ground won with 215 points.

“We’ll just find the good things that have happened throughout the year,” Olympic coach Rick Griffith said. “It just breaks your heart. This is the hard part of the sport.

“When you see how much hard work and how much time they put in — accepting it is never easy.”

Among the wrestlers Oly had hoped to send were fellow seniors Paul Kogut (275-pounds), Jake Switzer (171) and Andrew Brown (112). Switzer and Brown still have a chance as alternates if one of the Top 4 placers at their weights can’t go for state. But for Kogut, the season has ended.

“It just breaks your heart to see the disappointment in their face,” Griffith said. “Wrestling is about winning and losing, but it’s also about what you get out of the sport.”

But Griffith also said he couldn’t be happier for the Trojans that remain standing, particularly Pierce.

“The thing with Ben is he’s just so strong on his feet. He’s kind of one of the sleeper kids. Nothing flashy, but just so darn strong. He’ll have the opportunity to wrestle in the dome and I’m excited for him,” Griffith said.

Weber was able to bounce back from an early defeat to take third place at the regional tourney by defeating Kyle Saltsgaver of South Kitsap, who Weber beat for the subregional title.

Pierce took fourth in the tourney, dropping a tight 4-3 decision to Capital’s Kameron Harmon.

At state, Pierce will have the toughest road as the 140-pound class is believed to be one of the toughest from top to bottom. Pierce will start off against Kyle Yonago of Ferris, considered one of the best all-around wrestlers at the weight. He is also the defending state champ at 140.

For Weber at 215, the window is open as the top 7 placers at last year’s Mat Classic all graduated. Taylor McCluskey of Decatur is the top returner, earning eighth place last year. Battleground’s Duncan St. Claire, who handed Weber his only loss at the regional tourney, will go at McCluskey first. Both are in Weber’s half of the bracket.

CENTRAL KITSAP

CK coach Mike Harter was very pleased with his small squad’s regional effort. For Harter, three out of four ain’t bad.

“They know what it’s going to take,” Harter said of Crittenden, Mayfield and Nunez. “Ryan and Tyler are good practice partners and Dan will work mostly with me.

“I have to say, we came in with four kids and all four scored points for us. The fact we came in and took three of them, and one more mighty close, I’m very happy. All three of our guys going have a chance to place.”

Jon Umali, the subregional champ at 112, went 1-2 at the regional tourney to end his season.

Nunez did the best at the regional tourney, taking second place at 130. Nunez fell in a tight 4-3 decision to Cory Vambaur of Evergreen, last year’s state runner-up at 125. Tim Whitley of Wenatchee is back after taking fifth at state last year at 130. Nunez is considered one of the top competitors however. He would take on Whitley if both win their first matches.

“Ryan wrestled as close to a flawless match as you can,” Harter said of his final against Vambaur. “He just didn’t make any mistakes.”

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