Big hopes for little men at sub-regionals

By any account, Kurtis Fenton, Josiah Kipperberg, Kyle Bamonte and Rodger Nuttall are “little men.”

After all, they do occupy the first four spots on South Kitsap’s wrestling weight chart, starting at 103 pounds and ending at 125.

They may be little men by stature but don’t let the absence of size fool you.

“I like the fact that people look at us as little guys,” Kipperberg says. “On a team, it seems like the little guys, everyone just picks on them. But with us four, I think we’ve come out and shown other teams that we can go out there and dominate people.”

The foursome gets a chance to show its stuff at today’s Narrows League Bridge Division sub-regional wrestling tournament at Bremerton. The top four placers in each weight class will advance to next week’s regional tournament at Mountain View High School in Vancouver.

Preliminary matches were held Friday evening with today’s action getting under way at 10 a.m. Finals in all 14 weight classes are scheduled to begin around 4:30 p.m.

And despite the different paths each has taken to get to this point, all four feel like this is only the beginning..

Kipperberg has been a rock at whatever weight he has wrestled at. Usually filling the 112 slot, the senior moved up to 119 for a while to help fill a void when injuries hit the team in mid-season.

He enters the postseason undefeated in league matches and as one of the team’s most experienced wrestlers after placing fourth at the Mat Classic last year at 103 pounds.

Even though he  comes in as the No. 1 seed and most likely will hold that position again next week at regionals, he isn’t taking anything for granted.

“I have to take each match and this whole tournament seriously,” Kipperberg said. “I have to look at each guy as a state champ and go out there and get in his face and just keep pounding on him. I might make him look terrible, but that’s what I have to do. If I slack off even the slightest bit, I could do some serious damage to myself, so I need to go out there and wrestle each guy like he’s a state champ. If I get that mentality and go in there like that, no one will be able to touch me.”

Nuttall is also looking to repeat on last year’s success, when he was a state qualifier at his current weight of 125 pounds. Nuttall has been a little up and down so far this year but mostly up recently.

“Passion, I have it back,” Nuttall said of his late-season resurgence. “I had a long talk with my dad and with coach and I’m back to where I should be.”

He will have the toughest task, since the 125-pound class is loaded with great talent. But if his last few matches are any indication, he’ll be in the middle of it all.

Fenton, at 103, enters the subs with just one loss in league action, that coming to Olympic’s Camie Yeik. And he’s hoping to run into her somewhere during the course of the tournament.

But that’s not what is really on his mind. As a sophomore, he’s just ready to experience the postseason and see just how far he can go.

“I guess I’ve kind of surprised myself this year a little bit,” Fenton said. “But I set some individual goals that I wanted to achieve and I’m been working hard at those lately. I’m proud of how I’ve done this season and I plan on doing well as we keep going.”

Bamonte, going at 119, is coming off a shoulder injury that has kept him out of the Wolves’ lineup for much of the middle part of season. But after some solid wins late in the year, he feels ready to take on all comers.

“I’m going in to try my hardest,” the sophomore said. “I’m not going to give up or anything – I’m going to try to do the best I can.”

If the way these four have performed lately is any indication, South should have a solid day by the time the finals are over.

It was Fenton, Kipperberg, Bamonte and Nuttall who changed the tide of momentum two weeks ago in a Narrows League dual match with North Kitsap. With the teams tied at 12 after four matches, the little men went to work and by the time they were done, the score was 33-12 South.

“I think all four guys have a chance to make it through,” South coach Chad Nass said. “I can see them anywhere from one to four.”

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