While many teams are struggling these days just to fill out a lineup, the South Kitsap boys wrestling program continues to thrive.
Turnout is lower, as it is virtually everywhere else, but the atmosphere of energy, dedication and hard work that typically surrounds the team is the same as ever.
And it has paid off so far this season. Heading into Senior Night, the South Kitsap boys were 7-0 on the season and were scheduled to take on Olympia and Emerald Ridge in a double dual.
“Obviously we don’t have 65 kids like we normally do; we’re about half that,” said head coach Chad Nass. “[We have] about 35 out, but the 35 that are out have been really committed.”
Nass said the wrestlers had been doing everything they could to stay in shape while waiting to see when, and if, practices would begin and a season would be held.
“When our first practice hit, it didn’t feel like the first week of practice,” Nass said.
The Wolves were coming off two big wins heading into Senior Night. They had beaten Rogers, 55-12, and Puyallup, 75-6, just a couple of days prior. And they picked up two more victories in front of the home fans, defeating Emerald Ridge, 64-12, and Olympia, 76-3, winning all but three matches.
In between the two duals, the boys team’s seven graduating wrestlers were honored for their time in the program — Xavier Eaglin, Devin Easley, Reis Ecklund, Adam Kennedy, Joseph Laws, Keel Slayback and Logan Stafford.
Eaglin, a three-time state placer, which includes one state championship, said he felt fortunate to get a chance to wrestle in his last year.
“It’s not obviously what we expected, but at least we get a season,” Eaglin said. “I’m happy.”
The evening began with the match against Emerald Ridge, which immediately gave South Kitsap two wins via forfeit. Then freshman Chase Eaglin won the 120-pound match by fall at the 1:37 mark of the second period. Mitchell Neiner was ahead of his opponent 14-3 when he got the pin after just one minute and 43 seconds of wrestling. Isaac Perdue won by technical fall in the 132-pound weight class. Slayback picked up a win via a fall at 152 pounds.
South Kitsap’s upper-weight wrestlers were dominant as well. Phillip Chobot won a major decision at 195, as did Stafford at 220. Kennedy, the heavyweight, picked up a quick pin as well.
The Wolves accepted six forfeits from Olympia and won seven of the eight matches wrestled to come away with a decisive victory.
South Kitsap is set to host one more dual meet with a very tough Sumner squad on June 2.
Weather permitting, the meet will be hosted on the football field. Otherwise, it will be held in the gymnasium. The Wolves will also participate in the SPSL tournament, which will run over two days — June 8-9 — at the Washington State Fairgrounds in Puyallup in its open-air arena.