By AARON MANAGHAN
It’s a tough time to be a Trojan.
The Olympic wrestling team went into the 31st Central Kitsap Matman Classic with high hopes, but left banged up, albeit in sixth place.
Some of the troubles began before the team ever stepped on the mats. Earlier in the week, 189-pounder Laurice Gerig, last year’s 3A fourth-place finisher at state, found out his season is indeed done after a torn knee ligament before the season kept him sidelined. The Trojans were dealt another blow when 145er Billy Neary, seventh in state last year, unexpectedly quit the team because of personal reasons.
“It’s tough,” Olympic coach Tim Aiken said. “With those guys on their game, that could be 30 points at state. That’s a big blow to the team.”
The team also was without John Geise at 140, who strained his shoulder last week.
So with adversity staring them in the face yet again, the Trojans went to work, salvaging a sixth-place finish despite also losing two wrestlers to injury forfeits and nearly a third in 160-pounder Ivan Gaeta.
“Some of it is injuries,” Aiken said. “With the postseason a couple weeks away, we don’t want to push kids. Especially with a guy like Ivan, being a senior. You don’t want to risk it.”
Healthy Trojans fared well in the tourney, with Camie Yeik, Oly’s high finisher at second place at 103.
“That’s what Camie does,” Aiken said. “She’s a strong, tough competitor. Just sometimes you run into tough kids.”
In the final against Lake Stevens’ Josh Heinzer, the 4A runner-up at 103 last year, Heinzer won 10-0. But had the match been in the postseason, Aiken said the result might have been a little different.
“She’s smart about it,” Aiken said. “She knows it’s her senior season.”
112er Jesse Borcherding, competing in what was thought of as the toughest weight class at the tourney, took his first match against Winston Chen of Newport easily, getting the pin in 1 minute, 5 seconds. And while Borcherding found himself on the wrong side of a 3-2 decision with last year’s 4A 103 champ Zach Zweifel (of Lake Stevens), he lost much more as the two collided head-first, ending Borcherding’s day with a concussion.
“I was looking at it from a distance since I was coaching another kid,” Aiken said. “I saw him get a takedown, which was nice. I always tell the guys, do the basics first. He’s a tough kid. It literally looked like he just ran into a wall out there.”
With Borcherding done for the day, Aiken said the match with Zweifel still provided some big positives.
“3-2 is a great score,” he said. “If nothing else, it’s a great confidence builder for him.”
Brandon Truini, proving to be an even more valuable addition to Oly’s squad as an Elma transfer, continued to wrestle well, winning his first two matches via pin fall before losing a very tough 6-5 decision against Zach Nalley of Davis (of Yakima). Truini bounced back with a 4:20 pin of Graham-Kapowsin’s Travis Metcalf to take a tie for third place.
True third- and fifth-place matches were not wrestled as those wrestlers had already reached the mandatory five-match limit for the day.
Branden Yeik, wrestling at 135, also made his way to the podium, starting out with a 56-second pin of CK’s Ethan Beck. Justin Scott topped him via pin in the next round, but Brenden Yeik bounced back with two pins and a 4-1 victory against Lake Stevens’ Brandon Austin to take a share of third with Scott.
But that was when the injuries hit.
After Gaeta pinned CK’s Conner Worthington in 3:45, he then topped Anthony Lindfors of North Kitsap 6-2 to advance to the semifinal at 160. Gaeta was wrestling right with Enumclaw’s Joey Pierotti, the eventual winner, before having to injury default with a knee injury. He was able to bounce back in time for his consolation final with South Kitsap’s DeAndre Jackson however, pinning Jackson in 2:59 to earn a share of third place.
Shane Galeski, wrestling at 171, wasn’t so lucky however.
After Galeski pinned both Mitch Youngs of Auburn-Riverside and CK’s Jake Newell, he too had to injury default against Enumclaw’s Casey Park, this time with an ankle injury. Galeski was unable to return to action, but still finished with a tie for fifth place despite forfeiting out of the bracket.
While he was able to wrestle, Aiken was impressed.
“That was a big surprise,” he said. “He stepped up. I was like, ‘Oh man.’ It looks like Shane is turning a corner.”
And while the injuries were tough for both Trojans to swallow, Aiken knows it won’t be the last time the competitors meet the foes they fell to.
“Both Ivan and Shane will get another shot at those kids,” Aiken said. “Ivan’s gonna get him next time.”
David Reynolds took a share of fifth place as well at 215, pinning Russ Zeeryp of Mt. Spokane before getting pinned by Shayne Ericksson of GK, the eventual tourney champ at the weight. Reynolds too stormed the consolation side of the bracket, pinning Brady Tuttle of Enumclaw and holding on to a 12-9 decision against Alexes Garcia of Davis. Ryan Rude, of Rogers, then pinned Reynolds to take a share of third.
Lucas Kogut (145) was the only other Trojan to post a win at the tourney, which many called the toughest invite in the state this year.
“The nice part is we don’t have to cross the pass,” Aiken, whose Trojans travel to Spokane next week for a tournament, said. “It’s right in our backyard. It’s usually been a tough tourney, year after year. There’s never really been a down year.”
While not active on the mats, Gerig, a senior, was still a presence for the Trojans on the floor, cheering his teammates on.
“He’s here,” Aiken said. “He’s trying to motivate the kids. He’s still Laurice. He loves the sport.”
Aiken said of all the injuries, Gerig’s is one that hits him hard.
“I’ve coached that kid since he was a seventh-grader, when he was a short, fat kid,” Aiken said. “It’s a bitter pill to swallow.”
While the tourney was filled with ups and downs, Aiken said he still thinks his team learned a lot at Matman.
“It’s good to have the sophomores see that this is a tough tournament,” he said. “This is what high school wrestling is. If you want to be there, this is how you have to work.”
Lake Stevens won the tournament with 188.5 points, edging the 182.5 of Enumclaw.
The Trojans next host Port Angeles at 7 p.m. Wednesday in an Olympic League dual meet.