The South Kitsap Wolves once again proved to Kitsap County and the state of Washington their dominance on the wrestling mat, securing three state titles and nine placings between the boys and girls teams at the recent Mat Classic.
Not many coaches can say that each boy they sent to state came home with hardware, but Conner Hartmann can. All eight boys finished in the top eight.
“Our team believes in holding one another accountable,” he said. “They held team meetings on their own, even without coaches, to talk about their goals and the steps they would take to reach those goals. They pushed in the offseason, listened to feedback, and supported one another along the way.”
Senior and California Baptist college commit Mitchell Neiner ended his high school career a champion once more, claiming his second title in the 138-pound bracket with a 14-5 major decision over Owen Pritchard of Skyview. With that win, Neiner joined an exclusive class of Wolves with two state titles, the other being 2006 graduate Brent Chriswell.
Hartmann referred to Neiner as the “consummate leader,” crediting his long preparation for moments like this and setting an example of where hard work and dedication can take you. “No one has spent as much time wrestling and preparing as Mitchell. He is a product of many years of consistency honing his craft,” his coach said.
Another senior, Phillip Chobot, also won a state title. His victory was arguably the more emotional. He was plagued with hamstring muscle injuries throughout the past year, but an “unwavering commitment to the details” brought him to the top match in the 182-pound bracket. When the last whistle rang, he had won 5-1 against Christopher Neal of Tahoma.
Other placers for the Wolves boys included Brennen Williams (113) and Stone Hartford (132), both placing third; Gabriel Fragoso (170) fourth; Braden Shook (138) fifth; Chase Eaglin (145) seventh; and Logan Allinson (126) eighth.
Despite all of that success, the Wolves came up short of winning their first team state title since 2018, scoring 130 points to place second in 4A. Chiawana took the crown with 151 points.
“The kids wrestled an outstanding tournament, surprised a lot of people, and came together as a team,” Hartmann said. “We are not disappointed at all—just proud.”
That pride extends to the girls’ side as well.
Senior Monica Kaiser emerged as the first girls wrestling state champion for South Kitsap in the 145-pound bracket for the 4A/3A tournament. Her victory came via a pin vs. Camryn Erickson of Yelm in the third round after falling behind early in the match.
“Don’t miss out on our third state champion,” Hartmann said. “Monica Kaiser is exactly like (Neiner and Chobot) are when it comes to hard work and preparation.”
Hartmann is excited about the future as six of the eight state placers are expected to return for the boys, and the girls program has continued to gain traction. “There are several waiting in the wings who we believe will make an appearance next year and turn more heads. Our girls program is also exploding—don’t be surprised if you see them make headlines next year.”