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Wolves look to their youth
t What this year’s squad lacks in experience, it makes up for in young talent.
South Kitsap’s wrestling program never has won a state championship, but it’s generally regarded as one of the best in the area.
That reputation comes from having 11 different wrestlers win state titles, not to mention the Wolves’ streak of 151 consecutive league match wins.
The Wolves haven’t lost a Narrows match since North Thurston, a school that left the league a decade ago, beat them in late 1992.
But it’s a feat that South coach Chad Nass thinks could be difficult to sustain this season. After all, the Wolves’ two state placers, Matt Foxworthy and Brad Feddersen, have graduated.
Foxworthy finished second at 215 pounds last year and had a 34-0 record entering the state tournament. He now competes at Northern Colorado University.
Feddersen, who placed sixth at 189, is attending Washington State.
They’re just two of eight seniors the Wolves lost from last season’s starting lineup. That doesn’t mean South is devoid of talent, though.
Nass just feels most of it is just young.
Two seniors return who were just one win away from placing at state. But Adam Ferguson and Simon Kipperberg both expect to do more than just place at this year’s Mat Classic. Both are aiming for state championships.
If Kipperberg, who’s moving up from 112 to 119 this season, wins state, he’ll be the third in his family to achieve that distinction at South.
Derek Kipperberg won it at 119 in 2002, and another brother, Josiah Kipperberg, captured the 112 title in ’06.
Kipperberg has advanced to state the last two years.
Last season, he won a 7-3 decision against Shadle Park’s Justin Trevino in his first consolation match before being eliminated with a 6-5 loss against University’s Dan Seymour.
That doesn’t mean he’s reevaluating his objective to win state, though.
“That’s my goal,” Kipperberg said. “I’ve just got to stay strong and keep working.”
Ferguson competed at 125, but will move up to 130 or 135 this year. He lost his first match at last year’s Mat Classic and then rebounded to earn a 6-1 win against Kentwood’s Billy Creighton.
Ferguson was eliminated after a 9-7 loss against Graham-Kapowsin’s Ryan Johnson.
“I was disappointed, but I knew I tried as hard as I could,” Ferguson said. “Hopefully, I’ll take state this year. It’s a pretty big goal, but I know I’m capable.”
Junior Joel Miner also returns at making his first state appearance last season.
He lost both matches at 103. Miner will compete at 112 this season.
Kyle Fenton, a senior, also returns after being a state alternate at 135 last season.
Senior Brady Zurn is another veteran who will compete at 152 or 160 this season.
Nass said some of the wrestlers’ weight classes are in flux because he wants them to compete where they’re most comfortable. Per Washington Interscholastic Activities Assocation regulations, each wrestler must have a state-approved assessor establish their minimum weight before they can compete. Nass said everyone on the team has been certified.
One concern for Nass is the program’s depth in the lower weight classes, but notes that he has five heavyweights, though. One of them is junior Tom Decker, who routinely battled both Feddersen and Foxworthy in practice last season.
Nass said that’s a tradition at South - citing the improvement Foxworthy made after Brent Chriswell, a two-time state champion for the Wolves who now competes at Boise State, regularly beat him in practice. Now it’s Decker’s turn.
“Those guys were great about teaching him,” Nass said. “Hopefully, he’ll improve as much as those guys.”
Nass also is excited about the prospects of juniors Taylor Lyman (152) and Hakeem Smith (145) and sophomores Kris Fenton (135) and Michael Neiner (171). Another sophomore, Terrill Wilson (103), transferred in from Kansas.
“He works hard and is really athletic,” Nass said.
But will it be enough to stay perfect in the Narrows for a 16th straight season?
“That’s going to be tough to maintain,” said Nass, citing matches against Central Kitsap, Foss and Olympia. “We’ll have our hands full this year. It will be fun and exciting to see how it all shakes out.”