POULSBO — Once again this year, the Narrows League mat title came down to a battle between North and South — only this time it was decided in a rescheduled match.
The Wolves came to Poulsbo Thursday, highly touted with a NL winning streak dating back to 1992. However, the Vikings took to the match with an unusually confident poise for an underdog set for a double header on the evening.
Undefeated in league contests coming into the match, the Vikings were optimistically routed in their chances to take down the SK phenomenon. But when the action commenced, South proved its grit with a 36-18 win to take the Narrows crown, improving it’s impressive Narrows League winning streak to 141 matches.
North bounced back in the second half of their double-header with a 58-21 win over Foss.
“We still need to work on winning those close matches,” NK head coach Jon Cooke said. “It’s kind of a gut thing that you have to pull out. When you get towards the end, it’s a matter of who wants it and getting the feeling of confidence.”
The battle of the NL unbeatens lived up to its reputation as NK and SK grappled into a 15-15 gridlock with six matches remaining.
Of those final six, the Wolves accepted forfeits — and an automatic 12 point advantage — at 103 and 119 and secured solid wins at 215, 285 and 112 to take the match and momentum into the postseason.
The Narrows League tournament is slated for Feb. 2-3 at Mount Tahoma, regionals will be Feb. 9-10 at Emerald Ridge (Puyallup) and state is Feb. 16-17 at the Tacoma Dome.
In front of a rousing NKHS crowd Thursday, South started out with energy as Kyle Bamonte worked for an 11-7 win after NK’s Alfredo Rameriez took an early lead in the first match.
NK’s Johnny Helsing followed with another tough loss to SK’s Quincy Lyman, 10-6. Then Viking 140-pounder Jeff Jones earned an 8-5 decision over Brian Padmos to spur North’s determination.
“Comparing last year to this year, he has just a total different attitude,” Cooke said of Jones who has been coming on strong at the end of the season.
That positive attitude transferred over to NK’s Paul Coulter who picked up an 8-5 decision at 152, then onto Anthony Lindfors who took his match 9-3 over DeAndre Jackson at 160.
South followed with a fall at 171 that could’ve been devastating for North, but NK senior 189-pounder Eric Hedin answered with a pin to equalize.
“(Hedin) is kind of one of those quiet leaders that leads just by what he does, but lately he’s been stepping up more and taking that leadership role that we need him to,” Cooke said.
Taking a page out of the leadership book, first year wrestler Jim Smith also stepped up with a gusty performance at 215, but South’s Matt Foxworthy came away with the 6-5 win that started the match ending slide for North.