Grapplers take sixth in eight-way home meet

"A summary does not a story make. That was the story of Saturday’s Island Invitational wrestling tournament, in which the Bainbridge High School contingent placed sixth in the eight-team field in its first meet at the school’s new gymnasium.Bainbridge scored 118.5 points in the tourney, well back of champion Gig Harbor at 205.5 points. North Mason (202), Mercer Island (161.5), Blanchet (149.5) and Forks (137) also finished ahead of the Spartans, who did get the better of Meadowdale (115) and Eastside Catholic (72).The latter was the summary. The story, however, was that two Spartans superceded their pre-meet seedings so far that they came within one showdown each of sneaking away with championship trophies.The story was that several other Spartans shone in losing efforts against a standout field – including a Spartan (from another school) wrestling with just one leg.“This is sort of what I expected,” Bainbridge coach Steve Hohl said. “We were strong between 135 and 160 pounds.”The two strongest were juniors Joey Mankes and Mike Roe.Mankes, wrestling at 140 pounds, recorded a first-round pin at the 2-minute, 56-scond mark in his first match and a 7-4 decision in his second.In his final, against an opponent from Forks, Mankes fought the good fight before succumbing to a third-round pin.Mankes’ teammate, Mike Roe,wrestled next in the order at 145 pounds. He scored a quick fall in the first round of his opening match. His second match was more typical of his contests to date this season – low-scoring and exciting from a technical standpoint – and resulted in a winning 4-2 decision.In the finals, tied at 2-2, Roe gave up a buzzer-beating reversal in the first round to fall behind by two points. The deficit was extended to 6-3 in the third and final round by the time Roe put himself back in winning position with an escape point.With 20 seconds remaining, however, Roe got overeager and in attempting a takedown, was taken down himself just before the final buzzer for an 8-4 defeat.Here’s how some other Spartans did:• Mike Penn. The senior co-captain came back strong through the tourney’s consolation bracket after an opening loss. An 18-2 technical-fall win, a 13-11 overtime triumph and a solid 9-2 victory sealed Penn a third-place finish in the 160-pound weight class.• Brandon Nall. The junior, competing at 135 pounds, opened with a win before being tagged with a narrow 6-4 loss to the eventual weight-class champion. He finished his day with another win and loss to place fourth.• Brian Cook. In a curiosity of both naming and scheduling, the sophomore pinned Mercer Island’s Jeff Cook in the opening round of the 171-pound class.The two met several hours later in the consolation finals, with the visiting Cook coming back for a 10-8 win to send his Spartan counterpart to a sixth-place finish.“Brian Cook has really impressed me this year,” Hohl said. “His matches here were all close, and it seems like he’s starting to get a little bit of attitude – ‘Nobody’s going to push me around.’”• Ben Blakey. The senior, a first-time wrestler who turned out for the winter sport initially to get in shape for the spring lacrosse season, hasn’t done well in terms of wins and losses this year.The pattern held true Saturday, as Blakey was pinned by his 189-pound weight class’ No. 2 seed in his opening match. He put up a much better fight in his consolation contest, however, taking a four-point lead late before mistakes borne of inexperience resulted in his being pinned at the final buzzer.Blakey has only two wins against more than 10 losses this year – the two coming in last weekend’s Shoreline Invitational Tournament – and when forced to wrestle “up” at 215 pounds by virtue of a dearth of good Spartan candidates at that level, has given up as much as 30 pounds to his opponents.Where Blakey has succeeded best, perhaps, is as a poster boy for recruitment.“I wish I’d come out as a freshman,” he said. “Wrestling’s a great sport, and the coaches are really determined. It’s cool to work with them.“Some of my friends had wrestled. They told me that it gets you in really good shape, and if you can deal with wrestling it makes any sport seem easier.”Bainbridge closes its home schedule tonight with a 7 p.m. contest against Port Townsend in the new gym."

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