Wolves peaking at right time

It’s been a long season already, but the South Kitsap wrestling team seems to be hitting its stride at the right time.

Josiah Kipperberg, Brandon Kelly and Brent Chriswell each claimed individual titles as the South Kitsap wrestling team cruised to the team title in its own tournament Saturday, winning the South Kitsap Invitational.

“It was a much better day. Kids wrestled really well,” co-coach Chad Nass said. “We’ve been knocking on the door of this tournaments but we haven’t been able to get over the hump. It was nice to win one right before we go into our postseason tournaments.”

The Wolves scored 199 points while Peninsula was second with 174.5 and Kentlake took third with 166.5.

South was coming off a fifth-place finish last week at the Central Kitsap Invitational, a meet that saw the Wolves win no individual titles and just one wrestler make the finals.

Saturday, South got six into the finals to win its first tournament of the year.

Kipperberg won the 103-pound title with a first-round pin of Kentlake’s Jon Sanflippo, while Chriswell took the 171-pound division with a 5-3 decision over Evergreen’s Justin Schuele.

Kelly was awarded the 135-pound title after being illegally slammed.

Daniel Mazuti, who was wrestling as a non-scoring competitor for the Wolves, made the finals before losing, while Lenny Schwartz and Kyle Saltsgaver also took second-place medals home.

Schwartz has been slowly getting better and better all year, giving the Wolves a much-needed boost in the 189-pound division.

“It’s funny, throughout the years I’ve been at the bottom having to work my way up,” Schwartz said. “But now, I think it’s my time to shine. It’s my senior year, my last year.”

Schwartz worked his into a finals, meeting with Olympia’s Joseh Silverman Saturday but came up short, 5-1.

“He just keeps getting better every time he goes out there,” Nass said. “I can’t believe how much he has improved from where he was at the beginning of the year ’til now. I think it’s because he has some wins under his belt and he’s gaining so much confidence and believing in himself.”

While Schwartz enjoyed the best placing of his career, the second-place medal was his first ever; he said he has been enjoying the ride even more.

“Working with the guys downstairs, the coaches have been really having a great impact on me,” Schwartz said. “And I’m amazed. In fact, it’s not even the wrestling that does it for me. It’s the all-round experience of coming here. It makes me a better person and enhances everything that I am.”

Chriswell ran his season record to 20-1 with his win, but it was a tougher match than most expected. With Chriswell fighting through a hurt knee, he jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead and held on for the win.

“Brent isn’t quite 100 percent right now and the kid gave him a good go,” Nass said. “It was good for him. You get kind of spoiled (with quick wins), and anytime you get good competition and you persevere like that, you’re getting better.”

Kelly picked up his second win of the last three weeks after being illegally slammed to the mat. Two weeks ago, he suffered a concussion, while Saturday he landed on his side and couldn’t continue.

The Wolves close out the regular season this week with dual matches against North Kitsap and Olympia.

The postseason begins on Feb. 4 with the Class 4A sub-regionals at Bremerton.

And Nass likes where his team is sitting heading into the final weeks.

“I do, I really do,” Nass said. “We’ve been talking to them all year about climbing this mountain and we want to get to the top at the end of the year. I definite think we are heading in the right direction.”

South Kitsap Invitational

Team scores

1. South Kitsap 199; 2. Peninsula 174.5; 3. Kentlake 166.5; 4. Evergreen 150; 5. Olympia 145.5; 6. Sumner 124; 7. North Kitsap 73; 8. Central Kitsap 37.5

Championship results

103-pounds - Josiah Kipperberg (SK) p. Jon Sanflippo (K) 1:30

112 - Josh Brodie (O) p. Michael Haas (P) 2:30

119 - Shane Martin (O) d. Perry Garrison (S) 6-4

125 - Spohath Heang (O) d. Matt Lowry (E) 5-0

130 - Andy Wray (K) d. Daniel Mazuti (SK)-non scorer 10-3

135 - Brandon Kelly (SK) injury default Tony Underwood (P)

140 - Taylor Johnson (K) d. JG McCall (P) 3-0

145 - Matt Haas (P) d. Jordan Alberts (E) 8-3

152 - Nate Nove (P) d. Jesse Stokke (K) 9-2

160 - Jake Friedman (P) p. Cory Bast (NK) 3:58

171 - Brent Chriswell (SK) d. Justin Schuele (E) 5-3

189 - Joseh Silverman (O) d. Lenny Schwartz (SK) 5-1

215 - Kyle Rable (E) md. Kyle Salsgaver (SK) 11-2

275 - Tyler Wooldridge (E) d. Josh Menck (K) 13-6

Other South Kitsap placers: Kurtis Fenton (103) fourth place-non scorer; Robbie Luder (112) fourth place; Javan Miner (125) third place; Garrett Lyman (130) third place; Chris Hogan (140) third place; Brady Winslow (145) fourth place; Steve Medina (152) fourth place; Orry Perez (160) fifth place; Tony Duarte (275) fourth place.

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