NKHS grapplers get first win against Knights

"Trevor Pyle/ Staff Photo Larry Kimmons of Bremerton (top) and Jared Jennings of North Kitsap struggle during a close match Thursday night. Kimmons won a close match, 4-0. "

“POULSBO – It was a night of firsts for the North Kitsap High School wrestling team. After three previous tries, they got their first win by beating Bremerton 54-15. And one of the best matches of the night was turned in by a wrestler making his first varsity appearance – James Smith. Smith’s match against the Knights’ Benji Ehlers came in the 140-lb. weight class. North Kitsap was leading in team points when Smith’s match began, 19-12. The match didn’t open well for North Kitsap, as Ehlers quickly forced Smith to the mat for two takedown points. But Smith proved resilient. In a move that drew aaahs from the crowd, he quickly spun out of a hold, turning briefly onto his back and then spinning into position to break down Smith. Some in the crowd gasped at the quick move as Smith got the points for a reversal. The two dueled through the second period, with Ehlers forcing Smith’s face into the mat, trying to pin the North Kitsap wrestler, before Smith again escaped. And in the third period Smith pulled away, racking up several points on a takedown and a near fall. But neither wrestler could pin the other. Smith had to make do with a decision that put North up 23-12. In a sense, North was leading before the match even began. While the Vikings have struggled to fill weight classes this season, often forfeiting matches because there are no wrestlers to wrestle them, Bremerton has had the same problem. The Knights have only 17 wrestlers this year, and had to move several J.V. wrestlers to varsity against the Vikings. Bremerton forfeited three weight classes to North on Thursday, while North forfeited just one to the Knights. But the matches still had to be played, and when they were, North often ended up on top. Tim Lucas pinned Stacie White to give North a win in the first match of the night. Lucas, wrestling in the 103-lb. weight class, made the pin with 1:35 left in the first quarter. The next three weight classes were forfeited before North’s Fritz McArdle took on Bremerton’s Eric Smith in the 130-lb. weight class. Smith pinned McArdle, drawing Bremerton closer to the North Kitsap lead. Both teams forfeited the 135-lb. weight class, then came James Smith’s rookie win. After that, the wins came faster for North. Joe Vierra won a 12-6 decision, North got six more points with a forfeit, and Leif Olson won a 12-2 decision. Bremerton’s Larry Kimmons, wrestling up two weight classes, won a 4-0 decision over Jared Jennings in a hard-fought match, but by then North’s lead was insurmountable. North’s Jon Standley and Nate Carter got pins to close out a successful night for North Kitsap High School. After the game, Bremerton coach Jeff Barton said, We only have 17 people on the team, and that makes it really tough. When you average 36 points a match you’re giving away, that makes it pretty tough to win. Barton thought some of his wrestlers did well, especially Larry Kimmons. I thought we improved, he said, but we still have a long way to go. Vikings coach Larry Maguire was happy with his team’s win. Our kids wrestled pretty well, he said. James Smith, that was the first time he wrestled varsity, and he did a nice job. I’m pretty pleased with Jared Jennings’ match. (Kimmons) is a pretty good kid, and I’m kind of surprised he wrestled two classes up. Maguire said, They wrestled pretty well. They did some good things. “