POULSBO â€” Turn the corner.
Washington high school wrestling, along with the rest of winter sports, has rounded the halfway mark of the 2005-06 season, and the North Kitsap Vikings are accelerating out of the turn.
The varsity Viking grapplers kicked it into high gear before the start of the new year at a 12-team tournament at North Mason High School Dec. 30. NK coach Jon Cooke said it was a complete team effort and mentioned that the title has given the team some extra steam into the second half of the season.
Before winter break, the Vikings were thirsty for consistency. In the Dec. 15 dual against Oly, the purple bigs dominated in the beginning, but as the match rotated to the lighter end of the line-up, the Trojans ran away on the scoreboard.
Now things on NKâ€™s lighter side have shifted.
First off, junior Jon Younger is back on the roster at 119 pounds after missing the first part of the season. Along with his entrance, Willis Castle and Justin Grimes dropped one weight class â€” Castle is now NKâ€™s 103-pounder and Grimes is at 112.
Evidence from Dec. 30 as well as the Vikings last triumph â€” 52-12 over Gig Harbor Jan. 5 â€”Â has shown that the switch has helped conjure some of the consistency Cooke said the team needed.
At the North Mason tournament, Castle, Grimes and Younger battled through their respective brackets to finish in third place.
At Gig Harbor, Younger and Castle won by forfeit, while Grimes continued his season of ascendence with a pin in 5:09.
North Kitsapâ€™s middle weights have likewise been standing tall.
Matt Grimes (130), Paul Coulter (145) and Matt Cordell (140) each wrapped up championship performances at North Mason, while Kyle Hollenback (140) earned silver, and Pat Laurion (130), Johnny Helsing (135), Nick Laurion (145) and Nick Miller (152) finished third.
â€œ(Competition in practice) is one of the things that has really improved,â€ Cooke said. â€œIf you have somebody that you have to challenge every week, you have to get better.â€
At most of NKâ€™s middle weight classes, teammate battles for the varsity spot are a weekly contest. As steel sharpens steel, so has the middle bulk of NKâ€™s line-up.
Providing testaments at Gig Harbor, Matt Grimes pinned Tide Chase Waterland in the first round, Cordell won by injury default and Miller â€” wrestling at 145 â€” won by technical fall, 22-5. Nick Laurion fought in his first appearance at the 152 spot but ended on the bottom side of a 8-7 decision.
Northâ€™s big men, Danny Glushko (215) and Bill Plowman (275) each also picked up wins at Gig Harbor, and powered to first and second respectively at the North Mason Classic.
Tim McMullen â€” back with the Vikes after healing from a pre-season injury â€” looks to provide a piece of solidity at the jump between the mid and heavy weights of Northâ€™s line-up, Cooke said. He stepped into the 171 role in late December and excelled out of the gates. At North Mason, he wrestled to second and at Gig Harbor he picked up a pin in 1:34.
â€œWeâ€™ve turned the corner. Weâ€™re getting confidence and I think winning will keep it rolling,â€ Cooke said. â€œWhen the sophomores see seniors winning tough matches, thatâ€™s huge.â€
NKâ€™s JV squad looks to have learned from the varsity examples and toughness. The team hosted and championed an eight-team tourney Jan. 7. Final team tallies read: NK 219.5, GH 172, White River 135.5, JFK 127.
Eight North individuals grappled to first place, results are posted below.
Next up for the varsity Vikings is two trips to Central Kitsap. At 7 p.m. tomorrow, the Vikes will dual with CK and at 10 a.m. Jan. 14 they will wrestle at CKâ€™s Matman Classic.
NK JV tourney results
219.5Â Â Â Â North kitsap
172.0Â Â Â Â Gig Harbor
135.5Â Â Â Â White River
127.0Â Â Â Â J. F. Kennedy
97.00Â Â Â Â Port Angeles
59.00Â Â Â Â Klahowya
44.50Â Â Â Â North Mason
32.00Â Â Â Â Bainbridge Island
103 John Stiffler NK 1st
112 Roman Watson PA wbf John Stiffler 1:06; Luis Alfaro JFK 3rd, Brandon Holbrook GH 4th
125 Jeff Wilde GH wbf Mark King 1:01; Sloan Toll PA 3rd, Connor Middleton BI 4th
130 Brad Neudorfer JFK wbf Mike Meurs NM 3:14; Dave Dawson KSS 3rd, Tommy Jones WR 4th
135 Pat Laurion NK wbf Blake Graffe GH 0:18; Garrett Shell PA 3rd, Mike Madden WR 4th
140 Kyle Hollenback NK wbf JT Knapp NM 0:53; Jeff Nodtvedt GH 3rd, Justin Bull JFK 4th
145 Paul Coulter NK wbf Dylan Coil GH 1:36; Mike Earl GH 3rd, Cody Chaussee NK 4th
152 Aaron Bilbao NK wbf Jordan Lane JFK 3:01; Jacob Jones NK 3rd, Andrew Healy NK 4th
160 Jonathan Cordell NK wbf Matthew Burdine JFK 1:10; Tye Clements WR 3rd, Jonathan Phillips 4th
171 Peter Thompson NK inj def Nathan Bilbao NK; Jay Ubben GH 3rd, Blake Owen JFK 4th
189 Jon Berry NK dec Chad Peterson 7-0; Justin Tobey KSS 3rd, Steven Bates JFK 4th
215 Chris Pollock WR wbf Paul Doerscher NK 1:49; Nathan Vitartas KSS 3rd, Andy Delmore JFK 4th
275 Joe Barrett GH wbf Dale Gordon PA 3:09; Anthony McMillen WR 3rd, John Camp PA 4th