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Wolves capture regional championship
League and sub-regional championships are a regular occurrence for South Kitsap's wrestling program.
Now the Wolves can add a new trophy to their collection: a Class 4A Region III championship.
Behind four first-place finishers, South earned 162.5 points to outlast Heritage of Vancouver (159) on Saturday at Olympia High School. It was the Wolves' first regional title since 1999.
"They've worked extremely hard and have been very coachable," coach Chad Nass said. "I'm just elated."
South took 19 wrestlers, including alternate Spencer Ricketson (130 pounds), to districts and advanced eight to the Mat Classic today and Saturday at the Tacoma Dome. Those moving on to state are seniors Kyle Fenton (135), Adam Ferguson (130), Simon Kipperberg (119) and Brady Zurn (152) in addition to sophomores Cody Barich (125), Kris Fenton (135), Conner Hartman (160) and Michael Neiner (171).
Hartman, who wasn't even a varsity wrestler before the Jan. 2-3 Pacific Coast Tournament, captured a 4-3 decision against Gig Harbor senior Michael Earl to win his weight class.
"I've had great coaches and teammates help me get here," Hartman said. "I'm going all out to place as high as I can."
Half of the Wolves who won their classes were sophomores as Neiner claimed a 5-3 decision against Evergreen junior Cort Nutter. Neiner impressed Nass early in the season when he pinned Bellarmine Prep's Addison Grisaffi — the coach's son — while continuing to improve along with the rest of the underclassmen advancing to state.
"They just kept getting better and better as the season moved on," Nass said.
Ferguson had perhaps the most impressive win. He trailed 4-1 with 30 seconds left in the first round until he added another point with an escape. Ferguson then took him down early in the next round en route to a 20-5 technical fall victory against Kelso senior Austin Smart.
"It's an amazing feeling," Ferguson said. "This was my goal."
Nass called Ferguson's performance "gutty" and said he has a significant advantage over last year, when he was one win away from placing at Mat Classic. Ferguson entered as a No. 4 seed last year, which meant he drew a No. 1 in the first round at state. It will be the opposite this year.
"It doesn't guarantee you anything, you've gotta go do it on the mat," Nass said. "But it definitely sets you up to do it."
Under the current circumstances, where only the top three placers advance to Mat Classic, Fenton wouldn't have gone to state. The top four finishers advanced and Fenton, who was fifth, served as an alternate the last two years.
He beat Evergreen senior Mason MacFarlane 5-3 to earn the championship.
Besides that accomplishment, Fenton was happy to stand next to his younger brother, Kris, who placed third in the same class.
"I never went to state as a sophomore or a junior," Fenton said. "Hopefully next year I can come back and watch him in the state tournament again."
South advanced more wrestlers to state this year than the seven that went in 2008. And that's despite receiving one less allocation per weight class. Besides the wrestlers, Nass credited a large contingent of fans who made the hour-long drive from Port Orchard.
"We had a ton of fans here," he said. "They were rowdy all day long. The kids really grabbed that energy from them."
Class 4A Region III wrestling championships
Team scores: South Kitsap 162.5, Heritage 159, Evergreen 105.5, Central Kitsap 85, Kelso 69, Gig Harbor 58, Foss 41, Battle Ground 39, Shelton 37, Mountain View 31, Olympia 29, Bellarmine Prep 26, Wilson 22, Skyview 19.5, Mount Tahoma 15, Stadium 4, Lincoln -2.
Championship matches: 103-Austin Frazier (H) p. Michael Nguyen (E) 3:27. 112-Clint Powers (H) tf. Joey Troyer (CK) 17-2. 119-Cody Wood (H) d. Zach Holland 5-3 (OT). 125-Kurtis Giberson (K) d. Preston Hu (Sky) 18-7. 130-Adam Ferguson (SK) tf. Austin Smart 20-5. 135-Kyle Fenton (SK) d. Mason MacFarlane (E) 5-3. 140-Kyle Walker (H) d. Niko Hughes (K) 1-0. 145-Beau Klum (H) d. Damion Shehan 11-5. 152-Ethan Cobb (MV) d. Davey Browne (GH) 10-1. 160-Conner Hartman (SK) d. Michael Earl (GH) 4-3. 171-Michael Neiner (SK) d. Cort Nutter (E) 5-3. 189-Jordan Frost (Sh) p. Evan Hanson 5:39. 215-Dean Rogers (H) d. Steven Julian (O) 4-2. 285-Steven Forgette (H) p. Antoine Paige (F) 5:18.
Third/fourth matches: 103-Jarret Canovas (E) tf. Kyle Iverson (GH) 17-2. 112-Riley Miller (K) d. Terrill Wilson (SK) 11-10. 119-Simon Kipperberg (SK) p. Anthony Jara (BG) 4:23. 125-Cody Barich (SK) d. Evan Beck (CK) 9-1. 130-Kevin Rampp (MT) d. Spencer Ricketson (SK) 7-0. 135-Kris Fenton (SK) d. Keith Mattsen (W) 7-6. 140-Jared Kilcup (H) d. Cameron Anthony (CK) 7-2 (OT). 145-Josh Knippel (E) def. Blake Graffe (GH). 152-Brady Zurn (SK) d. Connor Worthington (CK) 6-1. 160-Jordan Pine (O) d. Joe Mills (BG) 6-1. 171-Michael Crowley (CK) p. Robert Clasey 5:08. 189-Jay Ubben (GH) d. Howard McDonald (CK) 10-5. 215-Miguel Simon (BG) inj. def. David Stenger (W). 285-Jeff King (BP) p. Nico Snider (MV) 2:59.