Sports

Cougars, Trojans ready for 32nd Matman Classic

Mike Harter’s goal, he claims, is to make Matman Classic the most competitive wrestling tournament in the state.

The Central Kitsap wrestling coach has organized the tournament annually since taking the helm six years ago, and the tournament continues to grow in both popularity and competitiveness.

The 16-team tournament, in its 32nd year of existence, is tomorrow at Central Kitsap High School beginning at 10 a.m.

“My goal for this tournament is to always make it the toughest 16-team tournament in the state,”

The 32nd annual Matman Classic will feature perennial state powers Auburn Riverside, A.C. Davis, Enumclaw, Rogers and Graham-Kapowsin as well as South Kitsap, Olympic and Central Kitsap. Mount Spokane, Shelton, Tahoma, Kentwood, Spanaway, Jackson and Lake Washington also will compete.

And not only are some of the state’s best teams going to wrestle, but a handful of No. 1 state-ranked individuals will take to the mat as well.

Both Olympic’s Jesse Borcherding (125 pounds) and Branden Yeik (140 pounds) will square off against the No. 1 wrestler in their respective weight classes.

Borcherding will face Enumclaw’s Sam Bauer, while Yeik will wrestle Jason Gray, also of Enumclaw. Borcherding is currently ranked fifth at 125, according to Washington Wrestling Report, and Yeik is ranked fourth at 140.

“They’ll find out where they stand,” Olympic coach Steve Polillo said of Borcherding and Yeik. “They are working hard, they are ready for the competition.”

The biggest absence from this year’s Matman is defending Matman champion Lake Steven’s, who will be participating in a different tournament.

“There still are going to be some incredibly tough matches,” Harter said. “There’s a lot of tough kids.”

For Harter and the Cougars, while winning the tournament would certainly be an achievement, Matman is more about gearing up for postseason with the intention of peaking then rather than now.

“This is the tournament we use for our tun toward the postseason,” Harter said. “We’re on course for where we need to be going into Matman. We’ve had good practices this week.”

CK placed second at Battle of the Bay Jan. 7, falling to Olympic in the final round of the three-team dual. The team then rebounded to beat Gig Harbor in a league dual.

“We had a poor performance at Battle of the Bay,” Harter said, pointing to the Gig Harbor dual as a good rebound performance. “We crushed them, which is the way we needed to wrestle after Battle of the Bay.”

Olympic, meanwhile, beat North Kitsap, a team Polillo said is “rebuilding,” 62-12 Wednesday to generate some momentum leading into Matman. And for Polillo, who is in his first year as head coach, Matman is an opportunity for his team to showcase the skills its built all season.

“We build all season long to compete in this tournament prior to state,” Polillo said. “The kids are excited.”

Polillo said the grind of the wrestling season usually begins to set in around this time, with grapplers battling injuries as well as mental and physical fatigue.

“It’s a long season, a lot of the kids are more intense early on,” Polillo said. “This is a tough time in the practice room, it’s really when the mental toughness kicks in.”

Opening-round matches begin at 10 a.m. and finals are scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m.

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