Wolves start year with a growl

With the biggest meet of the year on the line, it was appropriate that the little men would steal the show.

Behind the might of Josiah Kipperberg, Garrett Lyman, Jacob Coppinger and Kyle Coppinger, South Kitsap ran its Narrows League dual-match unbeaten streak to 109 straight matches Thursday night and began the toughest part of its remaining schedule with a 53-16 win over Olympic at the SK gym.

“(Josiah Kipperberg, Lyman and Jacob Coppinger) really came alive tonight,” SK coach Ron Hudiburg said. “That’s the best three matches those three kids have wrestled all year. Especially (Lyman). I can’t say enough about that, he just did a marvelous job.”

The Wolves looked sharp top to bottom, especially after going through the holiday break and this week’s snow days, which saw them miss workout time.

“We knew our kids were in pretty good condition,” Hudiburg said. “We just needed to touch base with them because we haven’t seen them in a while.”

What he saw was plenty of close, exciting matches from his lower weight wrestlers, mixed in with solid performances from his core of Craig Senter, Pat Kelly and Brent Chriswell, who all wrestled at a higher weight against Olympic.

“We really picked it up after the first of the year,” SK assistant coach Chad Nass said. “A little bit of bragging rights on the peninsula on the line here. I think, definitely for Olympic and for us. This is a big match for us.”

Josiah Kipperberg got the Wolves rolling early with his extremely tight 103-pound match against Andrew Brown. Kipperberg got down early but fought back to take a 10-9 decision and cut Olympic’s early lead to 6-3.

“I was kind of scared after the first thing that happened,” Kipperberg said. “He got me on my back and I had to fight out and I came back in the second (period). It was exciting. I just listened to my coaches and pulled it through. That was a good match.”

Lyman followed that up with a thriller of his own at 119 pounds against Olympic’s Jotin Ford.

The pair was tied at 2-2 after three rounds and Lyman scored a reversal in overtime to take a 4-2 win.

“I didn’t want to lose,” Lyman said. “I wanted to win since it was my dad’s birthday.

“(Ford) looked tough and I wasn’t sure how it was going to end,” Lyman said. “I fought to the end. It’s very exciting and you don’t want to lose. There was a lot of energy. I had my head into it tonight.”

Jacob Coppinger, going at 125 pounds, rounded out the trio’s night with a major decision over Louis Dennard, scoring a 12-4 win.

“A lot of it is just confidence,” Hudiburg said. “They’re home and they knew it was a big match, they just rose up. They were ready to go.”

The gutsy performance of the night came during the 145-pound match pitting South Kitsap’s Kyle Coppinger and Olympic’s Cody Gapp.

Kyle Coppinger, who’s been suffering though a bout of the flu, trailed most of the match and seemed on the verge of retiring when he took an injury timeout late in the match.

“He’s still fighting the effects of the flu,” Hudiburg said. “I thought he showed a lot of courage by staying in there.”

Coppinger returned for the final frame and held on for a 9-7 victory that put the Wolves up 25-16 in the match.

“He just gutted it out,” Nass said. “He dug deep and gutted it out. There wasn’t a whole of energy left in the tank. He really sucked it up there and I was really proud of him.”

From there, the Wolves put the match away with wins by Senter, Kelly, Chriswell, Jon Potts and Steve Razey.

Coppinger, Senter, Kelly, Chriswell and Potts were all wrestling at a higher weight since Jeff Cink, who goes at 140, was out with an illness.

But they showed no effect from dealing with that as Senter, Kelly, and Chriswell all scored wins by pin. Chriswell, a sophomore, ran his season mark to 17-1 while Kelly, a senior, is 15-2 on the year.

The Wolves hit the toughest stretch of the year’s schedule next week. They travel to Silverdale Tuesday to face Central Kitsap before a home match with Gig Harbor Thursday. The Wolves end the week at the Central Kitsap Invitational Saturday.

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