Two young Wolves captured league titles on day one of the South Puget Sound League wrestling tournament on Tuesday night, and the team as a whole is right in the hunt for the team championship with half of the weight classes still to be contested.
Sophomore Mitchell Neiner and freshman Stone Hartford of South Kitsap were the top finishers in the 126- and 120-pound weight classes, respectively, and several other wrestlers were able to place in the top six, putting the Wolves just 19 points behind Sumner in the team standings.
Head coach Chad Nass said the team’s strength was in the upper weight class, which dominated Sumner in its dual meet last week. The second day of the SPSL tournament came after the press deadline for the Port Orchard Independent. Results will be in next week’s newspaper.
Neiner took on Nathaniel Cortez of Graham-Kapowsin in the 126 finals and was in complete control from start to finish. A reversal and a three-point near-fall were part of an early 7-1 lead in the first period. It was part of a cycle that repeated throughout his matches — Neiner would occasionally give up an escape point, but would always rack up reversals and near-falls to score as many points as he could. The result was a technical fall victory.
“He’s on another level, he’s really something else,” Nass said. “He had an outstanding freshman year but I think he’s really had a lot of growth between the end of last year and where he’s at now.”
Neiner, in fact, won all of his matches in the tournament via the technical fall. Nass said that Neiner won a lot of his matches in his freshman year through pins, and thus, didn’t wrestle much beyond the first period. He’s gotten more mat time in intense matches as a result of focusing on scoring points rather than pins.
“When you get to the state tournament, and you have those tough, grind-it-out matches, he was missing a little bit of extra gas in the tank when he got to those,” Nass said.
Hartford won his finals match via fall over Erik Morales of Graham-Kapowsin at the tail end of the first period. Hartford had a bit of an interesting path to the 120 finals as he had to beat two of his teammates — Seth Rymer and Chase Eaglin — in order to get there.
“He’s really tough,” Nass said. “You’re going to hear that name for the next three years a lot. He’s really special.”
The Wolves had one more finals participant on day one — Vincent Nabors, who reached the last match at 138. But Nabors could not out-maneuver Sumner’s Dylan Coffey, who prevailed in a pin just as time expired in the second period, giving Nabors a second-place finish.
At 106, Ashton Roberts and Theron Quiett faced off in the third-place match, with Roberts winning it via pin in the second period, giving the two wrestlers third and fourth, respectively.
South Kitsap teammates Isaac Perdue and Isaac Brown also ended up against one another in the third-place match at 132. The junior Perdue prevailed over his younger teammate in an 11-3 major decision.