POULSBO — Tuesday night, the North Kitsap wrestling team took advantage of something it hasn’t had all year: an even start.
The Vikings, plagued by injuries all year and often lacking wrestlers to fill some of the weight classes, forfeited only one match Tuesday night against their rivals from the south, the Bremerton Knights.
What’s more, the Knights forfeited a match of their own, giving each team six points to begin the evening and guaranteeing that the meet would be decided by wrestlers, not forfeits.
“This is the first time we’ve been in the running,” said head coach Larry Maguire. “We only gave up one forfeit, instead of the usual three or four.”
And it was the Vikings wrestlers who decided the meet, as six pins led to an easy 51-27 victory over the Knights.
North Kitsap head coach Larry Maguire was pleased by what the Vikings did when they hit the mat.
“They wrestled well,” he said.
The Vikings jumped out to a quick lead. 119-lb. wrestler Doug Piehl racked up an early six points to start the match when he took advantage of the only Knights’ forfeit.
Piehl’s six team points were matched by Jordan Andersen, one of the Vikings’ top wrestlers, who wrestled Bremerton’s Jirah Soriano in the 125-lb. bracket.
Soriano was aggressive to start the match, bucking forward and briefly upending Andersen.
But the methodical Andersen regained his balance in an eyeblink, pressed down on his opponent, then tugged at Soriano’s ankle to earn two points for a takedown.
More points followed — another takedown, a near fall, and finally a pin, as Andersen got the first pin of the night for the Vikings.
The Knights ate into that lead when David Sawyers scored a 12-6 decision over the Vikings’ Nick Hutchman. They got closer still when the aggressive Eric Smith got a first-quarter pin against North Kitsap’s Josh Reichert.
But the Vikings stormed back behind the Baker boys, brothers Phillip and Mike, who were fabulous against Bremerton; Phillip got a first-quarter takedown, then a second-quarter takedown, and held on for a close 4-0 win, while Mike went for the more direct route, putting his opponent into a half-nelson then forcing him into the pin to give the Vikings a 21-9 lead.
More success followed. Stalwart Clark Hutchman racked up 13 unanswered points, at one point lifting Bremerton’s Aaron Dority off the mat before pinning the Knight to extend North Kitsap’s lead. Peter Gilbreath, returning from a month-long abdominal injury, pinned his opponent, and Mark Sargeant wrestled opponent Adam Gent closely before picking up six team points when Gent sustained an injury and his coach decided he couldn’t continue.
The Vikings continued to roll as Jarod Jennings achieved a third-quarter pin to give North a whopping 45-9 lead. Heavyweight Tim Keane also did his part, pinning Joel Garrett to send the North Kitsap lead to 51-15.
The Knights picked up two late victories as Tim Noles and Wally Grobler picked up pins of North Kitsap’s Tim Lucas and Robert Lucas.
But it was the Vikings who came away with the win.
Bremerton Coach Jeff Barton wasn’t happy with his team: “We didn’t wrestle up to our potential,” he said. “I thought we could have given North Kitsap a go tonight. But we didn’t wrestle well.”
Maguire was happy with the performance of several records, including the Bakers, Hutchman, Peter Gilbreath, and Tim Lucas, who Maguire said wrestled very well despite the loss.
“It makes me feel good that some of the things we’re teaching and teaching, they’re picking up,” Maguire said.