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New crop of Wolves aims to defend win streak
Dec. 3 at Gig Harbor
Dec. 5 Auburn Invitational
Dec. 8 Bellarmine Prep
Dec. 10 Foss, Stadium (at Foss)
Dec. 12 Olympic Dream Duals (at Kitsap County Fairgrounds)
Jan. 1-2 Pacific Coast Tournament (at Vancouver’s Hudson Bay)
Jan. 12 Lincoln, Wilson (at Wilson)
Jan. 15 at Mount Tahoma
Jan. 16 CK Matmen Tournament (at Central Kitsap)
Jan. 19 at Olympia
Jan. 23 South Kitsap Invitational
Jan. 25 Central Kitsap
Coach: Chad Nass, sixth season.
Key returners: Cody Barich, jr.; Tom Decker, sr.; Craig Dyess, sr.; Kris Fenton, jr.; Conner Hartmann, jr.; Taylor Lyman, sr.; Joel Miner, sr.; Michael Neiner, jr.; J.C. Parker, sr.; Hakeem Smith, sr.; and Terrill Wilson, jr.
Top newcomers: Colin Bryant, soph.; Sam Dye, soph.; John Eyler, soph.; Chris Gonzales, soph.; Eddie Meisner, soph.; and Jake Villars.
Key departures: Kyle Fenton, 135 pounds, graduated; Adam Ferguson, 130, graduated; Simon Kipperberg, 119, graduated; and Brady Zurn, 152, graduated.
It sounds similar to the big-time recruits that show up on college campuses.
They might be more talented than some of the upperclassmen, but there is pride among a program’s seniors to retain their positions.
South Kitsap coach Chad Nass feels that is an apt description of his wrestling program. Eight of his wrestlers advanced to Mat Classic last season, but none of the returning seniors made it to the Tacoma Dome.
“I kind of think they have something to prove,” Nass said. “Kind of a chip on their shoulders. They’re happy for their teammates, but they don’t want the sophomores and juniors outperforming them. They’re setting the tone and working hard.”
Four state performers — Kyle Fenton (135 pounds), Adam Ferguson (130), Simon Kipperberg (119) and Brady Zurn (152) — graduated. Juniors Cody Barich (125), Kris Fenton (135), Conner Hartmann (160) and Michael Neiner (171) return.
Neiner, who finished eighth, is the only one among the quartet who placed at Mat Classic last season.
“All four of those guys put in a lot of time from the end of last year until now,” Nass said. “I think all four of them are capable of placing (at state).”
But he is not certain if any of those wrestlers will compete at the same weights this year. Nass did not want to speculate about what classes his athletes will perform in as their weight certification is not until Saturday. A wrestler’s minimum weight class based on body-fat percentage: 7 percent for boys and 12 percent for girls.
Another junior, Terrill Wilson, rotated between 103 and 112 pounds last year. He lost an 11-10 decision against Kelso’s Riley Miller at 112 pounds for third place in the Class 4A Region III championships. Only the top three placers from that tournament advanced to Mat Classic, but the top four will qualify this year.
“Three was brutal last year,” said Nass, adding that he is confident Wilson will qualify for state this year. “That was tough.”
Last season was somewhat of a disappointment for Wilson. As a freshman at Sumner Academy in Kansas City, Kan., he turned out for wrestling for the first time and advanced to state.
“I’m definitely going to be a shoo-in for state,” Wilson said.
Both Nass and Wilson noted the competition in the middle weight classes. Seniors Taylor Lyman (145), Hakeem Smith (145) and Craig Dyess (152) all figure into those classes again this year.
“There’s going to be some good challenges in there,” Nass said. “I think we’ll see some flip-flopping in those weights.”
Another senior, Joel Miner, advanced to state at 103 in 2008, but did not qualify for last season’s Mat Classic. Miner and others will be able to work with Josiah Kipperberg, who won a 2006 state championship for South at 112 pounds in 2006. Kipperberg replaces longtime assistant Ron Coppinger, who Nass said resigned to pursue a new position with the county.
“Anytime you have a former wrestler back in your program, it makes for a really easy transition,” he said. “We’re really excited about that.”
Other returning seniors include J.C. Parker (189) and Tom Decker (275).
Nass also is excited about several sophomores even though most of them will not immediately compete at the varsity level. He mentioned Colin Bryant, Sam Dye, John Eyler, Chris Gonzales, Eddie Meisner and Jake Villars.
“They may not see the first-team lineup because we’ve got some pretty good returning kids, but I think by the end of the season they’ll be knocking on the door,” said Nass, adding that he has at least two quality wrestlers at each weight class. “They’re tough kids.”
The Wolves open their season Dec. 3 at Gig Harbor. They won that match 45-21 last year, but Nass felt the outcome was a little deceptive.
“We won some closely contested matches that made it look bigger than it really was,” he said.
South closed out last season with its 160th consecutive Narrows League dual-match victory with a 39-26 win at Central Kitsap. The Wolves, who have not lost a league match since December 1992 against North Thurston, host the Cougars in their regular-season finale this season.
“You had two 9-0 teams going after it last year,” Nass said. “I think that’s what the sport needs.”