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Grapplers have bigger team, bigger goals
Bainbridge wrestling head coach Dan Pippinger has a simple message for the team this season.
Don’t bow down to anyone.
The story he told at Tuesday’s practice of a servant from an ancient kingdom that refused to bow to his ruler served as a metaphor for two things – don’t get too low when you shoot on your opponent and don’t let anyone on the mat get the best of you.
“The focus for me for all these guys has been get better every day,” Pippinger said. “That’s the idea – if you’re not improving, if you’re not getting better, then someone else is, so you’re falling behind.
“They’ve got a lot of the fundamentals down and they can drill it, but when it comes to match time, it kind of falls apart a little bit,” Pippinger continued. “It’s about keeping it together and applying what happens in here out there on the mat and not getting lost in the moment of wrestling. So we keep pushing them to do it the right way.”
Last season, the Spartans did well at the Metro tournament, but sent just two wrestlers to Mat Classic through regionals. Those two – senior co-captain Corey Touchette and junior Alec Greiwe – didn’t place.
This season, the squad is bigger with 34 wrestlers in the fold, which Pippinger likes, but there isn’t much experience.
He thinks that Touchette and senior co-captain Karl Hunt will be the odds-on favorites from the team to make it to the state tournament. Hunt was a favorite to make it to state, but suffered an injury to his lip in his opening match loss at regionals and didn’t make it through the consolation round.
“They’re the models for work ethic and very different in their leadership,” he said. “Karl is pretty quiet, but he just models what you should be doing. Corey is more willing to be vocal (in his leadership). Both are willing to mentor the younger guys and bring them along.”
Hunt made it to the championship match in the 189-pound category at the Larry Brown Invitational over the weekend, but lost to Nathan Cristion of Port Angeles.
Greiwe, who qualified for state his first two years on the team, is the only Bainbridge wrestler that is listed among the rankings for the 3A 130-pound weight class, according to the Washington Wrestling Report.
Pippinger also feels several other returners have what it takes to make it far in the postseason. They include the Coryell brothers, Mitchell, a junior and Weber, a sophomore. Weber was an alternative to state last season.
Also returning are juniors Connor Kenyon and Jeff Laws and a pack of sophomores including Henry Wienkers, Alex Hoover, Bryce MacDonald and Calvin Gurtler.
“They are all in that space where I have to get them off the idea that they are not an underclassman but that they are upperclassman,” Pippinger said. “They have to think that way.”
One newcomer Pippinger likes is freshman Dylan Read. He took fifth at the Larry Brown Invitational in the 112-pound category.
With not many wrestlers at the low or the high end of the scale, Pippinger will need Read and freshman Michael Grant, who wrestles at 215, to help fill those categories.
But Pippinger believes they can compete with O’Dea and Bishop Blanchet for a Metro title.
Touchette is confident as well.
“A lot of the younger guys have stepped up,” he said. “There are a lot of guys that have shown improvement.”
Bainbridge took ninth at the Larry Brown Invitational. They also defeated Eastside Catholic 54-12 Dec. 9.
Read, Greiwe, MacDonald and Hoover all won by pinfall while Touchette won by major decision and Mitch Coryell won by technical fall. The Spartans lost to Kingston 54-23 Tuesday.