With a little help from my friends

A little help never hurts and Brent Chriswell got plenty of that at the Mat Classic this weekend.

Knowing he could ultimately face Tahoma’s Michael Johnson the finals of the 171-pound weight class, Chriswell brought in an old friend from Oregon to help get him ready for the meet.

And it worked to perfection as the South Kitsap junior came-from-behind to beat Johnson 4-3 and claim the state crown.

“I came up to train him and watch him wrestle,” Alec Ortiz said. “I was with him before all his matches, I warmed him up and gave him some advice.”

Chriswell and Ortiz met a few years back while wrestling in Oregon and have maintained a friendship that is based on the sport. Ortiz was there all weekend, trying to keep Chriswell focused on what was at hand.

“Basically, just how to control the match,” Ortiz said of his advice. “Because the previous matches I’ve watched, (Brent’s) really been kind of passive and standing and waiting for the other guy to shoot. I think he did really well this match of taking it to his opponent.”

Chriswell, who had lost to Johnson in three previous matches, watched film of his opponent and came up with a plan to beat him.

“I watched the tape and I knew exactly what he was going to do,” Chriswell said. “And he did and I just blocked him, just like we worked on. And what we worked on was perfect because he did exactly what we worked on.”

At one point during Saturday’s final, Ortiz had to pull Chriswell away from watching the action and tell him not to worry about anyone else but himself.

And in the end, Chriswell out fought Johnson and seemed to be the fresher of the two.

“It was my second wind,” Chriswell said. “And I can’t thank the Ortiz’s enough, his dad and (Alec) and all the support from Oregon. They told me to get my second wind. I had to break my first wind and I was in my second wind before I even started this match.”

But there was also his family that helped spur him on the week leading up to the meet.

“We spent a lot of time this week talking about doing what he knows best,” Brent’s dad Wade Chriswell said. “We went back to the basics, we just drilled, drilled what we knew.

“I’d say that’s the toughest guy Brent’s every wrestled,” Wade Chriswell said. “And it’s an honor to be able to beat him in a state championship. To beat a kid of that caliber is what it’s about.”

But it wasn’t any easy week for anyone involved. The pressure was enormous on everyone involved.

“There was a lot of pressure – our expectations are high,” Wade Chriswell said. “And I think Brent felt pressure from that. We’re trying to balance school, getting ready for state and him doing things we feel he needs to be doing in church and balancing his life.

“And it’s hard when you skew it so much of one thing,” Wade Chriswell said. “I think there was a lot of pressure on him and we as parents finally just had to back off and say he knows what he needs to do and we need to let him do it. It’s gotta come from within and it did. We, as parents, we want it as bad as he did so we just had to let it happen.”

Chriswell, who has matured immensely over the past year, said a letter from his mother Sharon helped a lot.

“I grew up a lot in this last week,” Chriswell said. “Me and my mom, and my dad, but mainly my mom, we’ve been not having problems but we’ve just been talking and she told me my faith is what will bring me through this. She wrote me a long letter and I just said a prayer while I was out there to help me out here and it worked. My faith is what helped me get through this, definitely.”

Faith mixed with a bit of revenge.

“Yeah and that too,” Chriswell said. “That was in there. But if you draw on revenge, revenge isn’t a good thing so you can’t dwell on it. But it may have been in my gut.”

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