Wolves send three to Mat Classic semis

This time, the South Kitsap wrestling team took a different approach at the Mat Classic in the Tacoma Dome. Along the way, they saw one of their own return to his old form, side-stepped some controversy and called it a night earlier than ever before.

And all of it was a good thing.

Josiah Kipperberg, Brandon Kelly and Brent Chriswell all advanced to the semifinal round of their respective weight classes during Friday’s opening day of the state wrestling tournament, putting South on pace for its second-straight top 10 finish.

"This is the first time since I've been coaching that we've never had anyone in the backdoor," co-coach Dave Dyess said. "They're all in the front door. We're always here late at night, now I'm looking at 6:23 p.m. and we're getting ready to go home. It's weird. But it's a good weird."

Of the five wrestlers competing Friday, three are unbeaten while two, Roger Nuttall and Kyle Saltsgaver, went two and out and are done for the year.

"They wrestled very well," Dyess said. "You could see it right off the start whistle that they're getting after them right away. The other two, you know, you didn't see that.

"They had an off day," Dyess said. "It happens."

Kipperberg, Kelly and Chriswell will go again Saturday morning needing just one win each to advance to the meet’s final round. A loss in the semifinals would mean fourth place at best and sixth place at worst.

Chriswell, who placed second last year as a sophomore at 160 pounds, is in position to get back to finals only after sweating out a referees call in his 171-pound quarterfinal match with Sean O’Brien of Oak Harbor.

Chriswell was up 5-2 in the second period when O’Brien suffered a possible broken nose while being taken down. The match was stopped four more than four minutes while trainers worked on O’Brien.

When the match resumed, Chriswell once again took his opponent down and had a half-Nelson on him when the referee stopped the match again for a blood timeout and also called Chriswell for using a full-Nelson, a hold that is illegal and would force the junior to forfeit the match.

"From my vantage point, and I thought I had a pretty good look at it, he had the wrist and he had a half-Nelson," co-coach Chad Nass said. "That's not a full-nelson and (the ref) called a full-Nelson."

With just 45 second of blood time left, O’Brien soon ran out of time and was forced to default the match to Chriswell. But the Oak Harbor coaches protested that Chriswell’s illegal hold should have been called first and therefore, South should forfeit the match.

Discussions insured for a few minutes before Chriswell’s arm was raised in victory.

"I was getting real nervous," Chriswell said. "I wouldn't have had a shot at the finals again. I was stressing, oh man. I was getting pretty stressed."

Nass said if the call had gone against them, he would have quickly protested the call, hoping to use film as proof that there was no illegal hold.

"I was shacking in my boots," Nass said. "It was a nightmare. And it shouldn't have been."

Chriswell will now face Jake Allen of Stanwood in the semifinals and is on a collision course with Tahoma’s Mike Johnson, who beat Chriswell in last year’s finals.

But the rest of the day went like a dream for the Wolves.

Kipperberg had little trouble reaching the semis at 103 pounds, pinning Ali Hadi of Bothell in the first round and destroying Randal Walt of Everett Cascade 18-3 in the second round. Kipperberg, a junior, faces Auburn’s Matt Sencenbaugh.

Kelly provided the best surprise of the day by winning a tough first round match against Austin Springer of Southridge, an opponent that beat him earlier in the year.

"I wanted revenge on him," Kelly said. "Once I beat him, I thought it was kind of easier after that."

Kelly topped Kevin Wills of Emerald Ridge 12-4 to reach the semis of the 135-pound division. He will go up against Trevor Hall of Battleground next.

“Having three out front, that’s pretty good,” Nass said. “We’re going to try and get up on that board there in the top ten and stay up there through this whole tournament.

After the first day, South is tied for sixth with Battleground with 29 points. University leads with 66.5 points.

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