SK grapplers look to extend league winning streak to 100

Ron Hudiburg didn’t think anything of it when his South Kitsap High School wrestling team lost to North Thurston 29-23 in December of 1992 — the day North Thurston, then a member of the Narrows League, ended SK’s four-year, dual-meet league winning streak.

After the defeat, Hudiburg told the Independent it just meant SK would start a new streak. Never in his wildest dreams did he realize how right he was.

Nearing the 10th anniversary of the birth of the streak, SK is just six dual-meet wins away from 100 straight in the Narrows League.

South has had its narrow escapes over the past few years, especially when powerhouse Capital came into the league three years ago.

All Narrows League foes will have an extra incentive to defeat the Wolves.

But like the last 10 years, it will be a tough task to accomplish. The Wolves return three state participants and two alternates, and a host of talented sophomores will highlight this year’s squad.

Senior Dustin Johnson (125 pounds), and juniors Micah Kipperberg (135) and Pat Kelly (152) return with state experience.

Other returning lettermen include senior James Thompson (130), junior Craig Senter (140), senior Jon Cisney (145), senior Jacob Kathan (152 or 160), senior Devin Spencer (189 or 215), and junior Jon Potts (171 or 189).

Potts, who wrestled between 189 and 215, was a state alternate last year, has trimmed down substantially and may wrestle at 171 — a weight class SK has no answer for right now.

SK’s void in the past has been difficulty finding someone to wrestle at 103 pounds.

That won’t be a problem this year.

Sophomores Rob Luder and Tyler Hoskins will compete for the varsity spot.

In fact, it’ll be all sophomores in the first three weight classifications.

At 112 are newcomers Brandon Kelly and Garrett Lyman.

The Coppinger wrestling family re-surfaces this year with sophomore cousins Jacob and Kyle Coppinger.

Their fathers Ron (fifth at state in 1976) and Tony (second in 1980) were SK legends more than 20 years ago.

Hudiburg said the difficult part of filling the roster will be at the heavyweight position.

“It’s like that every year,” Hudiburg said. “We also don’t have a true 215. We’ve only had one true 215 (Brandon Tronson) over the last five years.”

Hudiburg said he’s trying out some “big kids” to possibly fill the void in the heavyweight divisions.

SK’s biggest challenge will once again come against Central Kitsap along with Olympic.

CK brings back four state placers from last year and Olympic brings back most of their letterwinners from last year.

The key to winning dual meets is depth, and Hudiburg thinks there’s enough depth to keep winning dual meets.

Hudiburg said there is a lot of pride in the streak but he also said it’s not something that’s discussed much.

“We’re not going to press it,” he said. “We set some goals pretty high and the streak is part of it. I think we’d lose sight of our goals if we concentrated on the streak. It’s a neat deal but it’s not that great.”

Hudiburg said he’s excited to see what his returners and newcomers can do this year.

“We’re really solid this year,” he said. “We don’t have a front runner like Derek Kipperberg (state champion last year) but we have three state returners.”

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