Seahawks wrestle well vs. powerhouse Gators
Dec 12, 2012 (The Peninsula Gateway (Gig Harbor - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
If Thursday's dual match between the Peninsula Seahawks and Decatur Gators had taken place later in the season, the outcome might have been different.
In their first meet of the season, however, the Seahawks had to forfeit three matches, and the 18 points they gave to the Gators spelled the difference in a 39-34 South Puget Sound League defeat at Peninsula High.
Seahawks coach Mark Nickels thinks he'll be able to fill holes later in the season, but against Decatur, no one was ready to compete at 106, 182 or 195 pounds.
"Head-to-head, I think we can wrestle anybody," Nickels said. "I'm getting a little tired of matches being decided by the forfeits, but our kids wrestled with a lot of heart, and I think it was an exciting match all the way through."
The Washington Wrestling Report's preseason rankings had the Gators at No. 2 statewide among Class 3A squads, but the Seahawks stuck right with them.
The match opened with 160-pounder Casey Larson of Peninsula pinning Decatur's TJ Barndt in 42 seconds. Larson, a senior, is gunning for his third consecutive state medal.
At 170 pounds, Peninsula sophomore Luke Holsinger blew a 6-2 lead against Max Henry, but he scored a one-point escape just before the third-period buzzer sounded to earn a 7-6 win.
Following two upper-weight forfeits, Seahawks freshman Chance Stolz (220) got his team going in the right direction again. He gave up the first points to Noel Mafaala but quickly turned the tables and won by pin in 1 minute, 5 seconds.
"We took a gamble early on with Chance, and he just pulled it out like a champ," Nickels said. "He's a physical kid, and he's got a good mat sense about him, and he doesn't quit.
"(Mafaala) was pretty solid, and I could sense he was a little bit stronger, but Chance just had the heart, and he stayed in good position."
The pin gave the Seahawks a 15-12 lead, but it was last time they'd be on top.
Decatur's Kyle Gleed (285) needed just 23 seconds to pin Tre Starks, and Jonathan Silva (106) won by forfeit to give the Gators a 24-15 lead.
Peninsula's Kelly Polk (113) sustained an early near fall against Cordel Pickens, but he battled back for a 7-6 lead and finished the pin at 3:54.
Polk, a freshman who has been wrestling since he was in third grade, said he enjoyed the atmosphere of his first varsity match at home.
"I was kind of thinking that I wanted to start off the season good, because some of the past seasons I've started off by getting pinned," he said, "and I've never really had a good season, so I'll just see where it goes from there."
The Gators followed with consecutive pins as Leviticus Arizpe (120) defeated Noah Endsley in 5:29, and Drew Dasher (126) downed Daryan Hanshew in 1:24.
The most hard-fought bout of the night occurred at 132 pounds, where Peninsula sophomore Tommy Foreman went to double-overtime to beat Antonio Lucero, 7-3.
Lucero escaped with 15 seconds left in regulation to tie the score. Foreman escaped in the second overtime, then picked up a near fall from a top-position restart to solidify the win.
Foreman, a state alternate as a freshman, wasn't about to brag.
"I've got to work in the mat room more," he said. "I think I could've pinned that kid, but I've just got to work way harder."
In order to win the match, the Seahawks had to win the final three bouts, but they couldn't get it done.
Ryan Valley (138) dropped a 3-1 decision to Isaiah Diggs, who got the only takedown in the first period and rode Valley to the mat the rest of the way.
Returning state competitors Randy Nimrick and Jake Ricco of Peninsula ended the night with wins. Nimrick (145) took a 16-5 major decision against Dennis Good, and Ricco (152) pinned Mitchell Garza in 3:17.
Nickels said he was impressed with Peninsula's performance, and he's looking forward to straightening out some of the lineup difficulties. The team has two solid wrestlers at many positions.
"That's awesome for postseason, but it makes it a bit of a challenge as we come down for duals and we try to do some retooling to decide who we're putting out there, what's our best lineup," he said.
Sports Editor Neil Pierson can be reached at 253-358-4155 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter, @gateway_neil.
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