Sports

Grapplers ready to hit the mats

Eagle Cody Kirkpatrick works on Matt Williams while coaches Brad Hamblet and Rob Hawley observe. - Photo by Aaron Managhan
Eagle Cody Kirkpatrick works on Matt Williams while coaches Brad Hamblet and Rob Hawley observe.
— image credit: Photo by Aaron Managhan

The Klahowya Eagles will be a young team.

But don’t think that means they’ll be inexperienced.

With just five seniors among the 21 wrestlers to turn out for the Eagles, this year’s Klahowya wrestling team is more about quality than quantity.

“We’re young,” KSS co-coach Brad Hamblet said. “From top to bottom as a dual team, we’ll probably have some holes. We’ll be a pretty good tourney team.”

Among the Eagles’ key returners this season are state competitors Cody Kirkpatrick, CJ Moen and Patrick Griffin.

None placed last season, but that’s something that will only help fuel the Eagles more.

“The three of them I think are certainly state-placer caliber,” KSS co-coach Rob Hawley said. “They’re going to have to work hard and make some progress from where they were last year.”

The solid returning core also includes Selby Woods, Noah Caffrey and Chris Vineyard, with the latter two making it to regionals.

And while no one could really offset the losses of Jerid Sturman-Camyn and Andy Hedman (second and fifth at state in their weight classes), the Eagles will be no pushover on the mats.

“It’s always nice,” Hamblet said of the team’s mix of youth and experience. “Here’s the thing with wrestling. You have to sell them on, ‘When you’re young, you’re going to take some lumps and hang in there.’ They take it for a year or two years and then they’re dishing out the lumps.”

Other key wrestlers Hamblet and Hawley said will contribute include Karl Neumann and Darren Frasquillo.

And it looks like the Eagles will be able to fill most holes in the lineup most of the time, something that is rare in 2A dual meets.

“We’ll be able to fill all the weights, which will be nice,” Hamblet said. “Not many 2A schools fill some of those weights.”

Even for those Eagles without the experience, both coaches said have come in with a solid set of basics, ready to latch on to the high school system.

“I think what’s neat about this group is what they might not have in experience and expertise, they make up for attitude,” Hawley said. “They could go pretty far.”

The Eagles will open the season Thursday on the road against Foster.

Olympic

The Trojans also lost some big wrestlers from last year, including AJ Weber, Paul Kogut and Jacob Switzer. But following suit, Olympic too will be a tough team for Narrows opponents and tournament opponents alike to deal with.

But the real news for Olympic to start the season happens Saturday, when the Olympic Team Tournament takes over the Kitsap Fairgrounds Pavilion.

“The tournament is going to be great,” Oly coach Rick Griffith said. “The teams are set. It’s the first year we’re doing it, so we’ll try to get all the bugs out.”

Coming back for the Trojans will be a strong cast that includes Jeremy Huffman, Ken Nelson, Joe Flores, Kevin Siperek, Mick Polillo, Patrick Kendl and Caleb Williams.

Flores, Polillo and Huffman all came on especially strong at the end of the season last year, and Siperek should be able to relieve the team of some of Kogut’s loss.

“These are some kids that really you can count on as leaders,” Griffith said. “Joe really is the kind of the only senior coming back who’s wrestled for three years.”

But even those returners that didn’t have a great season last year should factor in this season, Griffith said.

“Last year we had a lot of young kids that struggled at times,” he said. “The flip side to that is this year, we end up with lots of good kids.”

Griffith, in his second year at Oly, said a lot of Olympic’s success will also be determined by those who may not make it into too many competitions.

“We’ve got 40 kids out,” Griffith said. “Only 14 get to see varsity time. But there’s a lot of kids that make this team better just by being there every day.

“Austin Reams is one that comes out everyday. He’s just a kid that loves the sport. He really does make our team better just by being there everyday.”

Griffith also praised the volunteers that come in to help shape Oly’s success.

“We have anywhere from four to seven volunteers on a daily basis. So that’s good,” Griffith said. “We’ve got kids like Joe that to have good competition, they have to wrestle each other all the time. It becomes mundane for them.”

The Olympic Team Tournament will start at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, and also will include South Kitsap, North Kitsap, Bremerton, Klahowya, Olympia, Bethel, Graham-Kapowsin, Auburn-Riverside and Marysville-Pilchuck.

Central Kitsap

Keeping with trend, CK also lost its main talent in Daniel Mayfield. And while CK may not be very large (right now the Cougars are looking at holes at 189, 215 and at heavyweight).

But CK started off strong over the weekend, participating in the annual George Yonlick Wrestlerama in Bellingham.

CK beat Sehome to start, shutting them out aside from forfeited points. The Cougs then fell to tough Monroe and Jackson teams before coming back and beating Inglemoor.

“For me it was less about the other teams and more about seeing my kids on the mat outside of practice,” CK coach Mike Harter said. “But I’m pleased with how the kids performed.”

Harter said the Cougars seem to be closer as a team this year, focusing equally on team goals as well as individual achievement.

“This year’s group is pretty tight,” Harter said. “Last year, the team was more focused on self. They were great kids, tough kids, and I love ’em to death.”

But he said he saw the difference at a team event on Nov. 18, when he team did a lock down at the school, receiving a visit from a speaker and bonding as a team.

“All in all, it went really well,” Harter said of the effort. “The kids are kind of pulling together. There’s no negative talk, nobody getting on anybody in a negative way.”

CK will count on Tyler Crittenden, a state participant last year, as well as Jojo Lancaster, Juan Galvon, Chris Smith, Blake Eichmeyer and others as the season moves forward.

“I think we’re gong to be able to teach this group of kids how to win,” Harter said. “We’re going to win a few matches in league.”

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