Kipperberg brings home title

As a sophomore, South Kitsap High School wrestler Derek Kipperberg was forced to sit out the season because of a dislocated elbow.

There was always next year to become a state champion.

His junior year as a 112-pounder went smoothly until he lost a heartbreaker in the state semifinals.

A tearful Kipperberg managed to bounce back and split his next two matches to take fourth.

Foiled again, Kipperberg had one last chance to accomplish a goal that eluded him the last two years.

Undaunted and fearless, Kipperberg rolled through the competition to capture the 119-pound state championship last weekend at Mat Classic XIV in the Tacoma Dome.

SK senior Evan Winslow lost his first-round match only to come back through the consolation bracket to snag fourth place.

Other SK wrestlers didn’t fare as well.

Sophomores Micah Kipperberg (112 pounds) and Pat Kelly (145) went two and out.

Junior Dustin Johnson (125) and senior Kyle Caldon (152) suffered a similar fate.

Derek Kipperberg capped his magical run with an 8-3 win against Kamiakin’s Tyler Sherfey.

Kipperberg became the ninth SK wrestler to win a state title, and the first state champion for the school since Stuart MacDiarmid won it in 1996 at 158 pounds.

SK coach Ron Hudiburg said there wasn’t any doubt Kipperberg was going to win the tournament.

“We knew he had it in him. It was just a question of getting him going,” Hudiburg said. “He’s just so disciplined and he’s got great gifts and makes the most of what he has,” Hudiburg said. “He’s got a great work ethic that nobody compares to.”

Hudiburg said the best thing to happen to Kipperberg was his semifinal loss at regionals last week.

“It got him back to reality and settled him down,” he said.

Kipperberg agreed with his coach.

“It was very good (to lose),” Kipperberg said. “I got my eyes open a lot (at state), and the coaches kept pressing me. I just knew what I had to do and wrestle through.”

Kipperberg said the goal of becoming a state champion was there from the first day he started wrestling three years ago.

“I never thought it’d go this far,” he said. “It’s incredible how God worked and got me here.”

Despite the expectations from himself and those around him, Kipperberg said he was calm through the whole experience.

“There was no pressure,” he said. “The coaches told me to feel no pressure going in and I stayed loose.”

Unlike other sports where athletes are spotted by college recruiters early, Kipperberg had received no interest from colleges prior to the state tournament.

Hudiburg said it’s typical for recruiters to come out in droves at the state tournament.

Some recruiters could be seen talking to him after his championship match.

Kipperberg said he’d be very interested in wrestling at a university.

“God’s opened the door in that direction, so I’ll go in that direction and hope it works out,” he said.

SK senior Evan Winslow could have folded his tent after suffering a first-round los to Battle Ground’s Jay Carlile.

But the gritty 160-pounder pounded his way through the consolation bracket to earn a fourth-place finish.

What was more gratifying for Winslow was his ability to defeat wrestlers he had lost to during the season.

Winslow started his journey with a tough 6-4 decision over Enumclaw’s Quentin Josie.

He then proceeded to rout Decatur’s Jason Bressler, 9-2. Bressler had beaten Winslow at the Highline Team Tourna-ment.

Winslow continued his run with a 1-0 nail-biter over Kentwood’s Brian Gustaf-son. That win pitted Winslow against Sumner’s Cory Devela, who had crushed Winslow 14-0 at the CK Matmen tournament in January.

But Winslow turned the Tide and held off Devela in another 1-0 decision.

The winning run ended with a 9-2 loss to Capital’s Derrick McLaughlin.

It was a weekend Winslow said he will always remember.

“I set my goal to be state champ, but the best I could do (after the first-round loss) was third, so I had to re-set my goals and wrestle the best I could wrestle,” Winslow said. “I ended up beating guys I had ended up losing to during the season.”

Against Devela, Winslow said he knew he wouldn’t win if he tried to get into a throwing war, which is what doomed him at the CK tourney.

“I knew if I just stayed low and rode him hard, he’d gas in the third round and I’d come out on top,” he said.

As for McLaughlin, Winslow said sometimes there are opponents one cannot beat.

Having faced and lost to McLaughlin a half-dozen times over the last couple years, Winslow said McLaughlin wrestles a certain style he just can’t stop.

Now with his SK wrestling days over, Winslow said the best memory he’ll with him is the record he and his father, Brett, share.

“It’s cool me and my dad are the first father-son combo to be on the wall in South’s history,” Winslow said. “That’s a cool feeling.”

Brett Winslow placed third at state in 1974 and 1975, making the Winslows the first father-son state placers from South Kitsap.

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