Klahowya comes close to Klassic crown

Host Eagles take second, CK finishes fourth.


Sports editor

Klahowya wrestling coach Wayne Gizzi is an ambitious man.

The second-year coach is trying to get his squad as much competition as possible, taking advantage of the opportunity to make the Klahowya Klassic even bigger.

Historically an eight-team tournament, this year Gizzi invited 14 squads from 13 schools (Auburn Mountainview wrestled ‘A’ and ‘B’ teams). The result was as competitive a Klassic as ever, with Klahowya nearly clipping Mountainview, the defending tourney team champs.

And while Mountainview took first with 172 points to the Eagles’ 159, Gizzi was enthusiastic about his team’s performance.

“It was fun,” Gizzi said. “I was a little nervous. I didn’t know how it’d go with four mats. But it was a good time. I thought it went well.”

Sultan took third with 153 while Edmonds-Woodway edged Central Kitsap for fourth place, 137.5 to 134. Cascade Christian, Peninsula, Kennewick, Bremerton, Meadowdale, Kingston, Lakeside and a North Kitsap split squad also attended.

With so many teams competing this year, 135-pound champion Neil Sell, a Klahowya sophomore, said the team was proud to represent so well at their own tournament.

“It does (feel good), with all the fans here,” Sell said. “And we have a lot of good people that didn’t place today.”

Sell wasn’t alone atop the podium, as Klahowya pulled off three individual titles while advancing to the finals in four weight classes. In addition to Sell, Klahowya’s Karl Neumann (145) and Danny Zimny (152) also won crowns while John Hays (130) took second.

In Sell’s finals match against Ricky Bobadilla of Mountainview, he fell behind early 2-1 before the match tied up at 3-3 through two rounds. In the third however, Sell built a 6-3 lead before catching Bobadilla and pinning him in 5 minutes, 24 seconds.

“Neil’s been wrestling so tough in the third period,” Gizzi said. “And Karl and Danny just wrestle so solid too.”

Neumann and Zimny both repeated as Klassic champs, with Neumann remaining undefeated this year following a 12-5 decision against Kennewick’s Garrett Woods.

Zimny matched up opposite Central Kitsap’s Chad Massida in the 152 final, ultimately edging Massida 9-4 in a tough match that could be rematched today as CK, Olympic and Bremerton head to Klahowya for the Battle of the Bay.

“The first thing he said on the podium, he goes, ‘Wednesday,’” Gizzi said of presenting Massida with his medal. “That should be another good one.”

Central Kitsap landed Cameron Anthony in the finals at 140 as well, although he fell in a physical bout with Colt Kaminski of Sulton 15-9.

More than anything else, CK coach Mike Harter was happy that everyone not only wrestled well, but put team points on the board.

“We had a lot of young guys here today and we did very well considering,” Harter said. “Everybody won at least one match today, and lots of guys won two.”

Bradley Franco fought through the consolation bracket for a share of third place for Cougars at 125. Third- and fourth-place matches were not wrestled because of match counts. 189er Howard McDonald also took a third-place share in his bracket.

With Kent Manalo, Trevor Stanburg, Franco Cruz, Mike Crowley and Karl Koemmpel all unavailable for a variety of reasons, Harter said everyone that CK needed to step up did.

“I’m proud of every single guy that came today,” Harter said. “This is the attitude I want in preparing to go into the postseason.”

CK got contributions up and down the lineup: 103er Josh Lemas won two matches; 112 Adam Benitez, wrestling his first varsity matches ever, won once; 119er Evan Beck made the semifinals with two wins before dropping out; Caleb Presson won two matches at 130; Richie Calden logged a win in the 135 bracket, Ryan Sayers won once at 145; Jake Olson got a win at 152; Connor Worthington (160) battled back to the consolation semifinals, taking three wins in the tourney; Caleb Hendon got two wins at 171; and Morgan Yarber won twice at 215.

“I knew coming in we weren’t going to challenge for the team title,” Harter said. “I wanted to see Chad in the finals, and I was hoping for Brad. I wanted everyone else to wrestle smart and that happened.”

It was a similar story for the host Eagles, with both Joe Sawyers and William Rosen taking a share of third place at 140. Donny McCarty also earned a third-place tie at 171.

“I think everybody wrestled hard and gave their all,” Gizzi said. “We wrestled hard in front of friends and family.”

In addition to the Eagles’ placers, Kevin Schiffman got a win at 119; Brock Gorang won once at 160, as did teammate Randy Craig; Caleb Hiller had two wins at 171 before falling to McCarty; 215er Brett Harkness won twice; and heavyweight Dominc Cruz earned one win at 285.

Gizzi said the performances of Hays and McCarty were among the ones that stood out most from a coaching perspective.

“John getting in the finals was big for him in a tournament this size,” Gizzi said. “And Donny has been scoring a lot of pin points lately. He’s improved a great deal since last year.”

With the Battle of the Bay today, Sell said he’s eager to see how the Eagles match up with Oly, having gone against Bremerton and CK in various forms now this year.

“We didn’t see Oly (here), but we’ll get a good view of ‘em Wednesday,” Sell said.

The Battle of the Bay is at 4:30 p.m. today.