Sports

Grapplers in search of ‘warrior mentality’ on mat

Several have a chance to make it to Mat Classic at the Dome.

The well-known phrase “We’re looking for a few good men” applies to wrestling, which isn’t as easy as playing, say, shuffleboard.

Head coach Dan Pippinger said he’s had to find the few and the proud to be on the Bainbridge wrestling team this season.

“We have 17 kids,” he said. “If all my numbers stuck it’d be around 25.

“It’s tough to get kids out, but the kids that are on the mat, they’re real committed, their hearts are into it and we want to coach the kids that put their heart into it and show some desire.

“We don’t have many returning seniors because some of them dropped out,” senior co-captain Keith Robert said. “It makes it tough.”

Though the squad is small, the Spartans are looking to make its mark in the Metro League for the 2007-2008 season.

Last year, the team took fifth in the Metro tournament and had six wrestlers make it to districts, but due to a switch in how teams were divided into regions, it put them in a much tougher district tournament where only Peter Paskell made it to Mat Classic.

This year, several wrestlers are looking to make an appearance at state, chief among them senior co-captain Mat Ritualo (130) and junior Eli Narte (135).

Both made it to state as a sophomore and a freshman, respectively, but missed out last season by placing sixth at districts.

Both have gotten off to strong starts with a first and second place finish at the Hidden Valley Tournament in Grant’s Pass, Ore. as they helped the team place fifth in the tournament.

Narte and Ritualo also won their matches as they helped Bainbridge defeat O’Dea 42-33 despite giving up four weight classes.

Ritualo pinned Chris Craft at 5:34 while Narte pinned Paul Pelegrini in 3:19.

“Eli probably had the best match of the night,” Pippinger said. “He kept controlling action and kept moving and that was great.”

Also returning are juniors Stephen Ritualo, James Gaunavinaka, Mason Remy and senior Jethro Cotton.

Several newcomers that Pippinger likes are freshman Corey Touchette and sophomore Brenden Henesey, who each scored pins against O’Dea.

Also showing promise is Russian exchange student Vlad Rakhimzyanov.

Though they are small in size, Pippinger feels they have the talent to make it as far as they want.

“The goal is the end of the year,” he said. “If these kids focus and learn I can reasonably expect to win the league.

“But I always expect that. Set the expectations high.”

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2007-08 wrestling

? The Spartans – now 1-0 on the season – took on Chief Sealth/West Seattle yesterday, then take part in several invitationals over the next few weeks before heading into league play.

Wed., Dec. 12 - at Klahowya, 6 p.m.

Sat., Dec. 15 - at Highline Tournament, 9 a.m.

Wed., Dec. 20 - Bishop Blanchet (Teacher Appreciation Night) 6:30 p.m.

Sat., Dec. 29 - Berserker tournament at Curtis HS, 10 a.m.

Fri., Jan. 4-Sat. Jan. 5, 2008 - Rainshadow tournament at Sequim HS, 6 p.m.

Thur., Jan. 10, 2008 - Lakeside (Wrestling Against Hunger Night), 6:30 p.m.

Sat., Jan. 12 - 26th Annual Island Invitational

Tues. Jan. 15 - at Ingraham, 6:30 p.m.

Thurs., Jan. 17 - West Seattle, 6:30 p.m.

Sat., Jan 19 - Renton Invitational at Renton HS, 9:30 a.m.

Tues., Jan. 22 - at Eastside Catholic, 6:30 p.m.

Thurs., Jan 24 - at Nathan Hale, 6:30 p.m.

Fri., Jan 1-Sat. Jan. 2 - Metro Tournament, TBA

Sat., Feb. 9 - Regionals, TBA

Fri.-Sat., Feb. 15-16, Mat Classic XX, Tacoma Dome

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