WRESTLING | Hartmann rounding into form at South Kitsap Invitational

Tristan Hartmann heard the difficult message.

And like any headstrong teenager, it did not resonate for the South Kitsap senior.

Hartmann, who placed first during Saturday’s South Kitsap Invitational, was told by his first doctor that he would not wrestle again after he tore the anterior cruciate ligament, medial collateral ligament and meniscus in his right knee and fractured the tibia in the same leg during a football practice in September 2012.

“It was a practice the day before a game,” said Hartmann, a defensive end who recovered the football during a drill. “Three people tripped into the side of my knee and one person landed underneath.”

The injury prevented him from wrestling during the 2012-13 season. But Hartmann was determined that his doctor’s prediction would not come to fruition.

“I didn’t accept that, so I proved him wrong,” he said, adding that his knee feels fine other than it requiring more ice after matches than in the past.

Hartmann, who pinned Evergreen of Vancouver’s Ryan Krause in 3 minutes, 44 seconds, during Saturday’s championship match, attended all of the Wolves’ practices last season even though he could not compete.

“He’s put in a tremendous amount of time,” South coach Chad Nass said. “He kind of became almost like an assistant coach in some ways [last season] and stayed with the sport. Even though you cannot be on the mat … you can still pick up a lot of things. I think he made the most of things. Now you’re kind of seeing the benefits of that.”

Hartmann’s older brother, Conner, won the Class 4A state title at 189 in 2011 for South. The older Hartmann, who now wrestles at Duke University, invited his brother to the North Carolina campus during the summer to workout with his teammates. The younger Hartmann, who was cleared by doctors to compete again about that time, eagerly accepted the invitation.

“He’s a great role model both academically and through sports,” he said. “I couldn’t ask for a better older brother.”

Hartmann, who has a 27-3 record this season, said he hopes to join his brother at Duke, but he also is receiving interest from other major programs, such as Purdue.

For now, he is just excited to be back on the mat. Because snow resulted in the cancellation of the SK Invitational in 2012, this is the first time Hartmann was able to compete in the event.

“It’s something I’ve been looking forward to all year,” he said.

Hartmann was the Wolves’ only first-place finisher at the SK Invitational. Brandon Forster (126) and Liam O’Brien were second in the eight-team event. Forster was pinned by Evergreen’s Ramon Ortiz in 5:22 in the title match, while O’Brien suffered the same result in 1:14 to Evergreen’s Austin Wright.

Five competitors also finished third for South. They were Angelo Trujillo (120), Adam Lutovsky (145), Jaxon Moffett (160), Donald Firman (182) and Kyle Kennedy (220).

“It’s kind of been the same old story all year,” Nass said. “We don’t have a tendency in these tournaments to put a lot of kids in the finals, but we have a lot of kids coming through the backdoor taking third and fourth. I really like that.”

In particular, Nass was pleased with Moffett. He lost an 8-2 decision against Peninsula’s Tim Henderson before coming back to defeat him, 7-6, in their consolation final.

“I thought Jaxon Moffett stood out to me,” Nass said. “He wrestled him five hours earlier and was majored by the kid and then he beats him in double overtime. I was really proud of him. I thought he wrestled with a lot of resiliency.”

South closes out its regular season Thursday night against Yelm, which ended its 189 dual-league match winning streak last year, before the sub-regional tournament Feb. 8 at Foss.

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