Sports

Wrestling: South Kitsap shows off depth at Pacific Coast

It was expected to be a daily dual between two wrestlers.

A pair of juniors, Conner Hartmann and Michael Neiner, comprised half of South Kitsap’s returning state qualifiers. And both were slatted to compete at 171 pounds.

But Neiner suffered a season-ending torn left hamstring during the Dec. 5 Auburn Invitational. Hartmann claimed the position and showed why coach Chad Nass considered moving him up a weight class to get him into the lineup before Neiner’s injury.

He placed second at 171 during Friday and Saturday’s Pacific Coast Tournament in Vancouver, Wash. Hartmann lost a 3-2 decision against Auburn’s Dylan Rutledge, who placed third in that weight class in last year’s Mat Classic, in the championship match.

“He’s got seven weeks to get better and work on some things,” Nass said. “With the type of kid he is, Conner is going to work on those things.”

Two other juniors, Terrill Wilson (4th, 119) and Cody Barich (5th, 135), also placed. Nass said both wrestlers had “gutty” performances.

He noted that Wilson won a double-overtime match, 4-3, against Enumclaw’s Travis Reano. Nass said Wilson struggled before in overtime sessions where he often would be hampered by penalties.

“He finally won one,” Nass said. “I think it was pretty emotional for him.”

Barich found his way to the podium through a different route. He lost an 8-4 decision against Woodinville’s Brady Olson in his final match.

“He was down in several of his matches and came back and won,” Nass said. “He looked tough all tournament.”

In addition to Neiner, the Wolves competed without junior Colin Bryant (103) and senior Craig Dyess (160) because of injuries.

He expects those two to return shortly, and while Hartmann provides “no drop-off” at 171, Nass said Neiner’s absence will cost his team points at Mat Classic.

But besides not having perhaps his top wrestler, Nass said he is happy with his team’s performance, noting that South advanced 11 wrestlers into the second day of Pacific Coast. He said the performance surprised him considering his team had not competed since the Dec. 12 Olympic Dream Duals.

South finished 10th among 32 teams with 102 points in the competition. Graham-Kapowsin won the tournament with 176 points.

“I thought the kids wrestled really well,” he said. “We had some tough draws, but the kids competed really well.”

Nass said his team has plenty of improvement to make as it heads into the second half of the season, but less than after it placed second in the Dream Duals. One area he feels they can improve is stopping “leg-riders,” a technique some use when their opponent is in submission.

“We need to get better at countering those,” Nass said. “That was the most glaring problem we saw.”

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