SK girls wrestling slowly building up new program

Starting up in the shadow of one of the best boys wrestling programs in the state, South Kitsap’s girls are gaining some attention with some strong results at the start of their first season with a full team.

The Wolves athletic program has thrived in wrestling since the turn of the century, often finishing in the Top 10 at state and celebrating a state championship in 2018. Most recently, the Wolves took home third place at state last year, unphased by the pandemic.

It’s a big example to follow, but former SK student-athlete Quinn Ogar, coach of the first girls wrestling team, hopes to find the same success moving forward. Ogar was a wrestler in high school before a shoulder injury his senior year sidelined him. Now, he is learning from boys coach Conner Hartmann about how to adapt to his new role.

“I think I’ve learned a lot about wrestling just as I’ve started coaching and grown in my own knowledge of it,” Ogar said, “but definitely working with him is a bonus. There’s not a lot of coaches that know more than Hartmann.”

While the sport is the same, Ogar talked about the challenges that he’s encountered coaching girls rather than boys. He said, “Moreso with the girls than I’ve seen with the guys is just getting used to the level of aggression that wrestling requires. All of them are super nice girls, so when they go out, and they’ve got to compete, and they’re being aggressive, it’s a bit of a transition for them.”

Just three girls wrestled last season, but a sixth-place finish for then-junior Monica Kaiser served as a sign of the potential a bigger team could bring. This season, the team has grown to 13.

“Most of the ones we got this year are fairly new,” Ogar said, “so it’s just a lot of wrestling basics, getting used to going to practice every day. Then just the work level that wrestling requires is a little higher than some of the sports that they may have played in the past.”

Ogar’s team has encouraging results this. Kaiser, sophomore Tayla Abundis and junior Rosemary Brooks all claimed second place in their respective weight classes at a recent tournament.

Regardless of skills, Ogar said he’s happy to have the numbers and said it makes the season feel more like a team sport and that all of his wrestlers are eager to please, though nervous about living up to expectations.

“They have a lot of nervous energy,” he said. “They just want to compete.”