EAST BREMERTON — The end of each calendar year brings some of the state’s best wrestlers to Kitsap County in the annual Hammerhead Invitational, and local wrestlers put up a strong showing in 2019 with six Kitsap wrestlers capturing championships.
South Kitsap nearly repeated as champions of the tournament for the fourth straight season, but was edged out at the very end by Union. The Wolves ended up finishing in second place with 216 points. North Kitsap finished eighth with 127 points and right behind in ninth was Central Kitsap with 122. The North Kitsap girls were the highest scoring team in the girls tournament with 63.5 points, which put them in 11th place.
Of the six champions, perhaps none had a tougher road than freshman Mitchell Neiner, who took home a title in the 120-pound weight class after defeating top seed Donnie Krissak of Bethel, 10-4, in the finals.
But it was in his semifinal match against Josiah Sanders of Woodland where Neiner showed his true resilience and ability. After going down 7-0 in the first period, Neiner chipped away at Sanders’s lead and ended up taking a 12-10 decision.
It was the first time he had faced any adversity in the tournament as he had pinned his first three opponents.
“He just showed great composure,” said South Kitsap head coach Chad Nass. “He got thrown on his back inside the first minute.”
South Kitsap had two other individual champions. Xavier Eaglin returned to the top of the podium after finishing second last season. He cruised to a 9-3 victory over Adam Borde of Port Angeles in the 138-pound weight class. Logan Stafford dominated Ayden Gaintano of Bethel, winning an 11-2 major decision.
“Logan has just put in a lot of time,” Nass said. “He’s a gym rat with us.”
Bremerton freshman Thor Michaelson was another breakout performer from Kitsap. He was named Wrestler of the Meet for the upper weight divisions and for good reason. He won three matches by technical fall and a fourth via a pin to reach the finals against Cody Bolstad of Puyallup.
Michaelson had little trouble with Boldstad, picking up some easy takedowns in an 8-4 victory.
Olympic senior Anjelo Pangelinan had a solid tournament as well, pinning all three of his opponents and then winning the 113 finals by a 10-1 major decision over Judeah Sanders of Woodland.
Pangelinan has moved up from 106 where he placed sixth in the 2A state tournament last year. But now a little older and wiser, he believes he can advance further at state this season.
“Just give it all I got,” Pangelinan said. “It’s my senior year, I’ve got nothing to lose.”
The sixth local champ was North Kitsap’s Robert Gomez, who won a title at Hammerhead for the second consecutive season.
Gomez took a 3-1 decision over Chance Bartelson of Puyallup in a rather quiet, defensive match, but Gomez was in charge the whole way.
It was the kind of match that means a lot to the North Kitsap junior. He wants the best schools in the state to come to Hammerhead to participate so local wrestlers can compete against more state-bound opponents.
“With all these bigger schools, these 4A schools that come down here, he hopes more big schools want to challenge us,” said Robert Gomez, sr., his father, who is also the head wrestling coach at North Kitsap.
A moment of silence for Mike Harter
Before the tournament began, a moment of silence was held for former Central Kitsap head coach Mike Harter, who passed away on Dec. 15 at the age of 57.
Harter was born in Seattle in 1962 into a Navy family and moved all over the country. That trend continued in college as he wrestled at three different schools — Iowa State University, Iowa Central Junior College and the University of Oregon.
A giant in the Kitsap wrestling community in every sense of the word, he was an occupational therapist and the head coach at Central Kitsap High School from 2003 to 2018. Harter remained involved in the Hammerhead Invitational after leaving the district and also took charge of the Matman Classic, held each year at Central Kitsap High School.
2019 Hammerhead Invitational
Local placers (boys)
First — Anjelo Pangelinan, Olympic, 113; Mitchell Neiner, South Kitsap, 120; Robert Gomez, North Kitsap, 132; Xavier Eaglin, South Kitsap, 138; Thor Michaelson, Bremerton, 145; Logan Stafford, South Kitsap, 182.
Second — Quentin Lawrence, Central Kitsap, 113; Sofian Hammou, North Kitsap, 220.
Fourth — Diego Clemen, Bremerton, 138.
Fifth — Josiah Sorenson, Bremerton, 160; Hunter Wallis, Klahowya, 182; Nouh Hammou, North Kitsap, 195; Micah Lamb, Central Kitsap, 220.
Sixth — Peyton Motter, South Kitsap, 113; Shayne Hew-Len, Central Kitsap, 138; Zowie Pangelinan, South Kitsap, 285.
Local placers (girls)
Second — Holly Beaudoin, North Kitsap, 125; Elise Scrafford, North Kitsap, 135; Phoebe Gordon, Klahowya, 145B;
Co-fourths — Makalya Beaudoin, North Kitsap, 110; Hanna Bumbalough, Klahowya, 120B; Alexandria Kauffman-Templeton, Olympic, 130; Makalya Heymann, North Kitsap, 135B; Christa Sindel, Kingston, 155B;
Co-sixths — Mya Young, Klahowya, 115; Shydea Harp, Olympic, 120B; Gloria Hudson, Olympic, 130B; Tabitha Manglona, Olympic, 140B; Emilia Robles, South Kitsap, 145; Lana Parco, Klahowya, 155B; Annabelle Moden, Olympic, 235.