Barich hoping to clip competition at regional meet

If Jesse Barich’s haircut is any indication of just how much self confidence the South Kitsap senior has, the rest of the state best take notice.

And a large portion of the state’s wrestling community will get that chance this weekend as Barich and 12 other members of the Wolves’ wrestling team will compete in the Region III tournament at Mountain View High School in Vancouver. The top four placers in each weight division at the two-day tourney will advance to the Mat Classic next weekend at the Tacoma Dome.

South is taking a total of 16 wrestlers to this weekend’s meet, 13 qualifiers and three alternates. Those that are competing for state berths include Kurtis Fenton (103 pounds), Josiah Kipperberg (112), Rodger Nuttall and Craig Bell (125), Javan Minor (130), Chris Hogan and Brady Winslow (145), Bobby Arendsee (152), Dylan Watkins and Ian Richardson (160), Orry Perez (171) and Brent Chriswell (189).

And Barich, at 140 pounds, expects to be one of many Wolves to finish out the season at the country’s largest state wrestling tournament, bad haircut and all.

Barich, a senior, showed up for practice the week before the sub-regional sporting a Mohawk-looking do that didn’t sit too well with South coach Chad Nass. After a few self-inflicted razor swipes, Barich now sports one the school’s oddest looking hair styles.

“It’s a good thing he’s a good-looking kid,” Nass joked, “because not too many kids could pull that hairstyle off and still look pretty good.”

Despite a few almost-bald spots on the sides of his head and a thick yet short cut down the center, Barich, who said he cut his hair that way to “distract the girls”, has come a long way in the last 13 weeks. Although he has been wrestling for the last couple of years, this season was his first on the varsity and he has made the most of it.

With his high-school career on the line, Barich rolled to the Narrows League Sub-Regional Tournament title last weekend in Bremerton by defeating Matt Cordell of North Kitsap, 3-2, giving him his first tournament title of the season.

“I think it’s pretty unique especially when you add in the level of success he’s had,” Nass said. “We’ve had different kids come in that hadn’t wrestled varsity until their senior year and they may have been pretty successful, but Jesse has been in every tournament, knocking on the door to win a championship and then he finally won and it was the league tournament. To win that in your first year of wrestling varsity, that’s pretty impressive.”

There’s a lot about Barich that has been impressive, starting with his 25-7 season record in dual and tournament matches.

But the biggest thing he has going for him this year has been his endurance and the knowledge that his next match could be his last – literally. Barich has already said high-school wrestling will be all the wrestling he will do.

“That is my motivation,” Barich said. “I’m not the most technically sound wrestler but I am motivated to do my best and get to state.”

For that to happen, Barich will have to rely on his endurance. That, Nass said, has gotten him to this point.

“Jesse has got a ton of heart,” Nass said. “He never stops. From the time the whistle blows until the end of the match, he’s just giving it everything he’s got.”

Nass said that much was obvious back in December when South was taking part in the Pacific Coast Tournament in Vancouver. Barich trailed most of the way one particular match and seemed to be too tired to continue entering the third and final round. But he sucked it up, came from behind and almost won the match.

From that point on, his season has been a steady climb to where he is now.

Nass said Barich has improved in some aspect each and every time he’s stepped on the mat since. Most of that coming from an ever-growing level of confidence.

“That has allowed him to open up his style a little bit more each time,” Nass said. “At the beginning of the year, he was a little bit cautious but now he knows if he gets a shot, he can take any guy down.”

Barich said that his recent success has been nice but it hasn’t changed any of the goals he set for himself back in November when practice started. The goal is and always has been state.

“It still makes me nervous to think about,” Barich said. “But that has been my goal – to make it to state.”

Nass said that goal is right in front of Barich and is his for the taking.

“I think, definitely, a state berth is in the mix,” Nass said. “I think Jesse has the ability to place at state, I really believe that.”

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