Sports

Wrestling: Wolves return youthful squad

Consider it a role reversal.

Last season, South Kitsap’s wrestling program was one of the few around the school that featured experience.

“We’re young,” said South coach Chad Nass, adding that wrestlers in nine of 14 weight classes graduated. “But they work really hard and ask questions. I’m excited.”

The wrestling program might be one of the most inexperienced at the school. Two state champions from last season, Conner Hartmann and Terrill Wilson, graduated. Senior Brenden Hartshorn, who will compete at 138, is the Wolves’ lone returning state participant. He is one of only four seniors Nass projects in the starting lineup.

“We don’t have the standouts like we did last year, but I think we have a lot more room for growth throughout the course of last season than maybe we did last year,” Nass said.

But he acknowledges that the Wolves streak of 177 consecutive wins in dual-league matches since its last loss against North Thurston in December 1992 could be at risk. At team camp this summer, Nass said South tied Shelton, 33-all, but lost on criteria. Nass said league matches against Bellarmine Prep, which occurred last night, and Central Kitsap (Dec. 13) also could be challenging.

“It’s going to be tough,” Nass said. “You have other programs in our league that have good core guys coming back.”

Among those are juniors Bryce Broome (160), Kolby Fenton (113) and Sam Skinner (152), all of whom return after placing at regionals last season. Nass also said juniors Michael Beard (182), Adam Gascoyne (170) and Austin Kanouse (285), who missed most of last season with a broken hand, all could be key contributors.

In addition, seniors Matt Haberlach (132), Eddie Meisner (220) and Jake Villars (195) return.

“The way last season ended I think left a bitter taste in his mouth,” Nass said. “They’re kind of eager to get out and prove something.”

Hartshorn could be included in that statement, as well. He will compete at 138 this season and said finishing in the top four at state is his goal.

“It was good to go last year and get my bearings,” he said. “I’m excited to get there this year.”

Hartshorn and his teammates won’t have to wait long to find challenging competition. The Wolves opened their season Saturday at the Auburn Invitational, where they faced programs such as Auburn, Auburn-Riverside, Jackson and Kelso, in the eight-team bracket. Other major December competitions include the Olympic Dream Duals and Hammerhead Tournament — both in Silverdale — and the Pacific Coast Tournament at Hudson’s Bay High School in Vancouver.

Those events also will showcase the new weight classes this season. Nass likes the adjustments, which saw the lightest weight increase from 103 to 106, and some adjustments to the larger classes. He said that is because “in a three-year high school, it’s awfully difficult to fill that 103 spot” and the old set up featured some significant gaps. For example, there was only one weight class (189) between 171 and 215. The five largest weight classes now are 171, 182, 195, 220 and 285.

South Kitsap 2011-12 wrestling schedule

Date Opponent

Saturday Olympic Duals

Tuesday Central Kitsap

Dec. 16 Hammerhead*

Dec. 28 Pacific Coast*

Jan. 5 at Olympia

Jan. 10 Shelton

Jan. 12 at Mount Tahoma

Jan. 14 Matman Classic

Jan. 19 at Gig Harbor

Jan. 21 SK Invitational

Jan. 24 Stadium

• Asterisk denotes beginning of two-day tournament.

Coach: Chad Nass, eighth season.

Key returners: Michael Beard, 182, jr.; Bryce Broome, 160, jr.; Kolby Fenton, 113, jr.; Adam Gascoyne, 160, jr.; Matt Haberlach, 132, sr.; Brenden Hartshorn, 138, sr; Austin Kanouse, 285, jr.; Damien Medeiros, 285, jr.; Eddie Meisner, 220, sr.; Cody Rose, 145, jr.; Sam Skinner, 152, jr.; Jake Villars, 195, sr.

Key newcomers: None.

Key departures: Cody Barich, 135, graduated; Kris Fenton, 152, graduated; Conner Hartmann, 189, graduated; Michael Neiner, 171, graduated; Terrill Wilson, 119, graduated.

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