SK aims to send coach out in style

There are plenty of stories to go around for the 2003-2004 South Kitsap boys wrestling team.

There is the ever-present get-to-state mentality that all the Wolves’ sports teams have.

And how about the 104-straight Narrows League dual-match winning streak?

Oh, and Ron Hudi-burg has announced that this year, his 20th at South Kitsap, will be his last.

Can anyone say Elton Goodwin?

“Our goal is for him to leave with a state title just like Coach Good-win,” senior Pat Kelly said. “We didn’t put any extra pressure on ourselves last year for baseball and we ended up giving (Goodwin) a state title. Hopefully we can do the same for Coach Hudiburg.”

Goodwin announced his retirement before last year’s baseball season and watched his team promptly send him out on top by winning the Class 4A baseball title.

“We have such a good team, we have such a strong team and we all rally around each other and I think we’re going to do so good this year,” senior Craig Senter said. “Just the way we stack up and the way we work so hard in practice, it’s going to come. We don’t have to worry about what’s happening.”

Hudiburg will retire after 35 years of coaching. He has had stops in Duncan, Okla., Decatur and Port Angeles.

“I’m approaching it just like any other year,” Hudiburg said. “I really haven’t noticed anything different in the wrestling room. It’s kind of funny in that when we go through different parts, I catch myself thinking I’ll never have to do that again, like certain parts of the paperwork and stuff. I’m just going to enjoy the year.”

That should be easy to do with the talent that he has coming back.

“We’ve got a lot of really good kids back from last year’s team (that placed 11th at the state tournament),” Hudiburg said. “The kids see themselves up there (in the state’s top 10), and we’ve got the horses to do it if everybody stays healthy.”

Leading the group are four returnees from last year’s state tournament — seniors Senter, Pat Kelly and Micha Kipperberg and junior Brandon Kelly. Kipperberg and Pat Kelly both placed seventh last year in the state tournament.

Pat Kelly returns for his final year at 152 pounds. Senter has moved up five pounds and will wrestle at 145, while Kipperberg will go at 135-140.

“I definitely want to finish in the top four, if not higher,” Kelly said. “We build off each other so much, we push each other so hard in practices and everything.”

Brandon Kelly has moved up to 125-130 from 112 last year.

“(Brandon) was a big performer for us last year and he made it to state,” Hudiburg said. “He wrestled two close matches. He didn’t win any, but he lost one-point matches. He’s bigger, older and stronger this year.”

Kipperberg returns as the team’s lone regional champion and pinned three of his opponents in the state tournament last year.

“My expectations are that I want to go out and rip my opponents up,” Kipperberg said. “That’s my attitude.”

Hudiburg said Kipperberg was impressive at times and should build off that experience.

“He was right there and lost some matches we didn’t think he should have,” Hudiburg said. “I think he was disappointed with how he did and thought he should have been higher.”

The Wolves are loaded in the middle of their lineup this year.

“From 125 up to 189, we’ve got experienced kids that have all been to regionals or state,” Hudiburg said. “And our two big kids (Steve Razey and Clayton Hutchins) were on the learning curve last year and now they’re ready go.”

Razey will wrestle at 215 while Hutchins, who will miss the first month of year with broken bones in his wrist, will go at 275.

Hudiburg tabbed seniors Jeff Cink, at 171, and Jon Potts, going at 189, as a pair to watch going into this season. He also has sophomore Brent Criswell, at 160, who is ranked seventh in the nation in freestyle wrestling.

“He’s very talented,” Hudiburg said of Criswell. “We’re very pleased to have him.”

The season starts Dec. 6 with a tournament in Auburn, and Kelly knows some of the newbies on the team will need to come through.

“Some of the young kids are coming out good, but some of them are kind of shell-shocked,” he said. “But they’ll work into it eventually.”

South Kitsap opens its home schedule Dec. 9 against Bellarmine, while Port Angeles is the first Narrows League meet on the schedule, that one coming Dec. 15. The Wolves last dual-meet loss in the Narrows League came in 1992 against North Thurston.

The Wolves just missed out on a top-10 finish last year and have their sights set on achieving at least as much this year.

“I think they’re even aiming a little higher than that,” Hudiburg said. “They give trophies for the first four places and I’d like to see us up there. And that’s not unreasonable. I think we’ve got the power to do that.

“There’s tournament teams where individuals score big for you and then there’s dual-match teams where you are tough top-to-bottom,” Hudiburg said. “I think we’ve got both things. We’re going to be really strong all the way through all the weights.”

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