By AARON MANAGHAN
2008 started great for the Klahowya Eagles wrestling team.
The Eagles, traveling north to the Rainshadow Invitational tournament at Sequim High School, took one individual title, placed six grapplers and finished fifth overall at the 17-team tourney.
“We had a good weekend,” KSS coach Wayne Gizzi said. “They wrestled pretty well, the kids that wrestled.”
Making things even better, the Eagles’ JV squad had a strong showing at the North Kitsap JV Tournament.
“This weekend was probably one of our better weekends wrestling,” Gizzi said. “We wrestled well at Sequim and North Kitsap went well too.”
Karl Neumann again topped his weight at Rainshadow, pinning two of the three opponents he faced, including Columbia River’s Josh Skov in 1 minute, 38 seconds. Columbia River won the tournament with 194.5 points, while Port Angeles was second at 154. Klahowya registered 107.5, just a point behind Port Townsend for fourth. Olympic League rivals Bremerton, Sequim and Kingston also participated at Rainshadow, as did Bainbridge.
Neumann’s other win was an 8-1 decision against Jesse Roark of West Seattle.
But he wasn’t the only wrestler Gizzi was pleased with.
“Danny Zimny had a good (tournament),” he said. “He wrestled well. I thought he looked good.”
Zimny, the third-place finisher at 152, had a first-round bye before edging Bainbridge’s Keith Robert 7-5. After falling to eventual champ Jacob Coklin (Federal Way), Zimny rebounded by winning his final two matches to claim third.
Another was 140-pounder Neil Sell, a winner at his weight last year who took third at 140.
“I thought he had a really strong showing too,” Gizzi said. “He won it last year. He wanted to win it four years in a row, but he wrestled well.”
Sell began with wins in his first two matches, pinning Eli Swedlow and Henry Carpenter, both of West Seattle. Eventual champ Scott Lindquist, of Columbia River, sent Sell into the consolation bracket with a 12-2 major decision. Sell too rebounded, pinning Jefferson’s Zeke Nistrian before winning a hard-fought 3-2 decision against Mount Si’s Jacob Lund.
Joining them on the podium was fifth-place finisher at 125, Ammon Jensen; Donny McCarty, who was fifth at 171; and Kevin Schiffman, who placed sixth, forced to forfeit the placement match due to a shoulder injury Gizzi said didn’t have serious implications beyond the tournament.
Making things even tougher was illness, as KSS had a few guys battling bugs, including Jensen.
“Ammon had a pretty tough weight bracket,” Gizzi said. “But I thought he wrestled well. He got sick too.”
With school back in session, Gizzi said it was obvious to distinguish between wrestlers who turned out during break and those who did not.
“The ones that did go over the break really benefited from it,” Gizzi said. “Winter break is a good time to work on things. The ones that did not, you can tell.”
Even so, Gizzi said the team is finally starting to cement each of its weights.
“We’re just starting to get kids where we want them in the lineup,” he said. “We’re starting to fill our team in. We should have all our weight classes going into districts.”
The timing is good too, as Klahowya hosts North Mason at 7 p.m. tonight and Port Townsend at the same time tomorrow.
While the Trojans also headed north this weekend, Olympic’s wrestlers did so on the other side of the water.
The Trojans took third place of 14 teams at the Panther Classic, which Mead (Spokane) won with 259 points to edge hosts Snohomish (254). Olympic scored 159 points, well behind the top two teams but still 20 points ahead of No. 4 Kamiak.
The Trojans won three individual titles, as Jesse Borcherding (112) and Brandon Truini (119) both won their finals matches via pin fall. 130-pounder Branden Yeik secured a technical fall against his Panther opponent, 16-1. His sister, Camie Yeik, also advanced to the finals at 103, falling 9-3 in a tough battle. Other placers and match results were unavailable at press time.
The Trojans travel to Peninsula today for a road duel before participating in the 31st Central Kitsap Matman Classic Saturday.