South Kitsap trailed Sumner by about 20 points heading into Day 2 of the South Puget Sound League wrestling tournament, but the Wolves’ upper weights proved dominant as they ran away with the league championship.
The final count: 421.5 points for South Kitsap, 275 for Sumner, thanks to four more individual South Kitsap champions as well as a handful of lower placers.
Wolves wrestlers Xavier Eaglin (160), Joseph Laws (170), Phillip Chobot (182) and Logan Stafford (220) joined Mitchell Neiner and Stone Hartford as league champions in their respective weight classes. But winning team titles is also about depth, and a number of wrestlers stepped forward on Day 2 to pick up crucial thirds, fourths, fifths and sixths.
“They just wrestled flawlessly,” said head coach Chad Nass. “They got after it, got a lot of pins, and we had champions in four of the six weight classes wrestled that day.”
At 160, Ben Laws reached the final before losing to teammate Eaglin by technical fall. Devin Easley (182) and Adam Kennedy (285) both finished third in their respective weight classes while Jonate McHenry (285) picked up fourth place; Jeremiah Rendon finished fifth at 195; and Jacob Gatlin took sixth at 170.
In all, every single South Kitsap athlete who wrestled on day two ended up placing.
“As a coach, that was pretty satisfying,” Nass said. “That was a total team effort.”
Eaglin’s technical fall win over Ben Laws in the 160 finals was indicative of how the tournament went for South Kitsap. There were quite a few cases in which the team’s individual losses came when two Wolves wrestled one another. Kennedy and McHenry wrestled one another in the 285 third-place match, with Kennedy pinning his younger teammate in 40 seconds.
At 170, Joseph Laws picked up a 6-3 victory over Michael Ager of Rogers. The other two championship wins were pins as Chobot won by fall over Sean Lightbody of Emerald Ridge midway through the second period of their match. Stafford pinned Samuel Husarik in three minutes, 41 seconds.
In the girls tournament, Rosemary Brooks won a league championship at 110 pounds, beating Annika Arriola of Rogers twice. Once in an 8-0 major decision and once by fall.
At 130, senior Brooklyn Roberts also captured a title, winning all four of her matches, including a pin of Melony Bridgeman of Bethel in the fifth round. Hailey Roberts finished third at 135.
The win for the boys in the league tournament caps an unblemished season for South Kitsap wrestling. A shortened season filled with testing twice a week and having to wrestle with masks could have easily led the team to toss in the towel on the year, but the goal-oriented culture of the program instead led them to embrace any opportunity that came their way.
“It really started with our seniors,” Nass said. “They were obviously disappointed that we couldn’t have a state tournament, but they then immediately asked, ‘What’s the best we can do?’”
The SPSL tournament then became their state tournament. And although it’s not the same as wrestling under the bright lights of the Tacoma Dome, the fact that South Kitsap wrestles in arguably the toughest league in the state gave them an opportunity to prove themselves.
And they responded by completing a 14-0 season, including a 52-25 win over Sumner in the Wolves’ final dual meet of the season. For their efforts and the adversity they had to face this year, Nass said he was as proud of this year’s team as he was of his 2018 4A state championship squad.
”They had every reason to not care and they cared immensely,” Nass said.
South Kitsap placers (boys tournament)
106 — Ashton Roberts, third; Theron Quiett, fourth.
120 — Stone Hartford, first; Chase Eaglin, fourth.
126 — Mitchell Neiner, first.
132 — Isaac Perdue, third; Isaac Brown, fourth.
138 — Vincent Nabors, second.
152 — Keel Slayback, fourth; Reis Ecklund, fifth.
160 — Xavier Eaglin, first; Ben Laws, second.
170 — Joseph Laws, first; Jacob Gatlin, sixth.
182 — Phillip Chobot, first; Devin Easley, third.
195 — Jeremiah Rendon, fifth.
220 — Logan Stafford, first.
285 — Adam Kennedy, third; Jontae McHenry, fourth.
South Kitsap placers (girls tournament)
110 — Rosemary Brooks, first.
130 — Brooklyn Roberts, first.