Sports

One more road to cross

The Bainbridge swim team is looking for a team trophy at state. Front: Cheyne Clark, Austin Hallett. Back, L-R: Jeff Yalung, Sam Pollock, Quinn Cullen, Cooper Ashley, David Ortyn, Kevin Brooks, PJ Trimble, Cody Jenkins. - Brad Camp/Staff Photo
The Bainbridge swim team is looking for a team trophy at state. Front: Cheyne Clark, Austin Hallett. Back, L-R: Jeff Yalung, Sam Pollock, Quinn Cullen, Cooper Ashley, David Ortyn, Kevin Brooks, PJ Trimble, Cody Jenkins.
— image credit: Brad Camp/Staff Photo

Last chance, no breaks.

The Bainbridge gymnastics, wrestling and boys swim and dive squads send the best of their best into the big time this weekend when Spartan teams work for a possible individual or team title at their respective state tournaments.

It’s been a long season of shouldering the burden of expectations by many to make it this far, but all that matters now is how they fare under the lights.

Tumblers

But what’s on the mind of the gymnastics squad at practice Wednesday isn’t their routines, but their housing situation, as their funding for their hotel rooms dropped out.

The change forced them to scramble to cover their hotel rooms for the weekend.

“Unfortunately for us, it’s become a distraction,” head coach Cindy Guy said.

But getting used to making changes on the fly has been the norm for the team this season.

Already expected to cruise to a title this season with the talent they had returning, the team was dealt a major blow when Marie Welsh, the all-around champion, was lost with a knee injury last May.

The Spartans also had to deal without Kathleen Callahan, who had sprained her ankle and was out for the first several meets, and Lauren Fleming, who was reduced to performing on just the bars with a knee injury of her own as was Sophie Wenzlau, who was limited to just one event due to a bad shoulder.

But Bainbridge got big-time performances from Annie Zuckerman and newcomers in Adrienne Palay and Anne Schwartz.

Laura Bricklin, Talia Weiss, Eva Fazzini and Katie Mathews also made big contributions to help keep the Spartans’ regular season dual-meet winning streak intact this season.

Though Bainbridge lost the use of Bricklin to a knee injury and Palay to an ankle sprain, Callahan and Wenzlau came back in time to help the team take the Metro title for the second straight year (and their sixth in their seven years in the league) and a third place finish at districts to grab the last team spot despite not having one tumbler place in the top ten.

Palay is expected to compete this weekend.

Guy likes that they perform in the afternoon and she also likes their rotation, as they start on the vault and go through bars and beam before ending on the floor.

“We’ve never done that at state, but we’re really happy to end on the floor,” she said.

With the end of this weekend comes the close of a career of three seniors who were members of the first ever team title in school history as freshmen.

“Senior Night was definitely sad, but at least we’re going out on a good note,” senior co-captain Stella Wilson said. “How upset can you be?”

The Spartans took part in the team competition yesterday at the Tacoma Dome Exhibition Hall.

Those who qualified for individual events yesterday start at 11:40 a.m. Saturday, with all the awards given out at 2:30 p.m.

Grapplers

While the gymnastics team was trying to solve their problems, wrestling head coach Dan Pippinger felt that things were going right as rain for them.

“We’ve had outstanding practices,” he said at practice Wednesday. “Just nailing down our technique and focusing on what we do well and perfecting it.”

He’ll be taking three wrestlers to Mat Classic XX at the Tacoma Dome.

Mathew Ritualo, ranked tenth in the 130-pound category according to Washington Wrestling Report, is back after qualifying as a sophomore in 2006.

But his draw isn’t easy, as he squared off against fourth-ranked Wayne Horton from Enumclaw yesterday.

If he gets past him, he may have a chance to face off against Chief Sealth’s Anthony Rosario later in the day.

Rosario was the one who injured Ritualo’s neck during their Metro title match with what Pippinger felt was an illegal slam.

Ritualo had to be taken to the hopsital for observation, but still made it back through districts to qualify.

Ritualo said he’ll be fine for state.

“I’ve been working on it (his neck) in practice,” Eli Narte said with a grin.

Eli Narte is in at 135 pounds, but he got third-ranked Anthony Hughes from Kelso.

If he gets past him, he may face another ranked opponent in Sunnyside’s JT Gonzalez.

Keith Robert made it in the 152-pound category, but his weight class is one of the deepest in the whole tournament.

If he made it past third-ranked Alex Cannon from Shelton, he’s possibly got sixth-ranked Jesse Roark from West Seattle to deal with.

That’s not counting second ranked Jake Grant from Sumner who’s in his bracket, or tournament favorite Eric Jones from Auburn Riverside, who is the teammate of two-time state champ Michael Mangrum and who sports an undefeated record of 36-0.

But Pippinger won’t count the three out.

“All three of them have shown a (great) work ethic,” he said. “If anything, wrestling is a sport that you have to put time into. They’ve put the work in.”

Mat Classic continues through Saturday, with the opening matches scheduled for 10 a.m. and running all day.

Swimmers

As the wrestlers make their way through some tough brackets, the swim and dive team keep things moving along swimmingly.

Austin Hallett feels they’ll be ready.

“Our yardage is really coming down,” he said. “The whole team is really feeling strong.

“Cooper (Ashley) came up to me after (practice) and said ‘Are we doing starts?’ and we just did this really hard set. It just shows how pumped we are and ready to go.”

Bainbridge is represented in several events; in all, they have a shot at gold.

The 200 medley relay is seeded second behind Mercer Island by .39 of a second.

The 200 freestyle relay is seeded sixth behind Seattle Prep while the 400 freestyle relay is seeded eighth behind Sehome.

Individually, Hallett is seeded first in the 100 freestyle while David Ortyn is seeded 13th in the 100 butterfly.

“Pretty much every time I think about state, I think that this is my last year to shine, so I have to do something special,” he said.

“It’s going to be pretty nerve-wracking, but I think back to my freshman year when my mom said ‘Just go out there and have fun,’ so I’m going out to have fun.”

On the diving side, Clark is among the top scorers, but in Clark’s mind, it’s just him and Mercer’s Beau Riebe for the state title.

“(At districts) I managed to pull out a second (place) with my worst meet all year,” he said. “If I do well – not awesome, just well – I can beat Beau. That’s the goal.”

The preliminaries were yesterday, with the finals starting at 11 a.m. at the King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way.

For updates on all the events, check out wiaa.com.

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