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Wrestlers throttle Hale, claim district title
In only their second season in the Metro League, the Bainbridge Spartans captured their first wrestling championship, defeating Nathan Hale 39-20 Thursday night to run their conference record to 8-0.
The match was much closer than the final score, with the Raiders (6-2) leading early, 10-7 and 16-10, before a Spartan comeback.
What the made the win especially satisfying was the fact it was Senior Night for six grapplers; Stevie Devine (103 pound weight class), Alonso Valenzuela (112), Dan Bachen (152), Justin Thorpe (160), Peter Mandell (189) and Nick McCallum (215).
It was their night, and they made it very special by sealing the regular-season championship in an inspiring way, coach Steve Hohl said.
In the opening pairing at 125 pounds, sophomore Zach Smith ran his team-best record to 24-3 with a convincing 11-3 decision. Classmate Angelo Ritualo (135) soon after took an exciting 11-8 victory with a third-period escape and takedown, but Bainbridge trailed 16-10 midway through the card.
Then came the senior attack. Much to the approval of a spirited home crowd, Bachen secured a dramatic 10-8 win in overtime, and Mandell and McCallum crushed their opponents by scores of 13-5 and 10-2 for major decisions.
After a Raider win, Devine triumphed 6-1 and Valenzuelas hand was raised due to a forfeit.
Showing the Spartans also have depth, sophomore Billy Thomas and freshman Brian Robert mixed in pinfalls late in the contest to establish the final margin.
Particularly impressive was Robert, who trailed 10-2 and was on his back in a near-fall situation in the first round, rallying to tie the match 14-14 after two periods. He then pinned his more experienced opponent at the 5:04 mark.
Two days later, the mat men closed out their regular season when they hosted the Cross Sound Shoot-out.
Saturdays event event turned out to be exactly what the team needed at this point in the season, a tune-up for league and district tournaments. Despite numerous forfeits by wrestlers who had met WIAA maximums for number of matches, it was furious action for well over four hours.
The Spartans won two of their three contests, besting Port Angeles 54-24 and North Mason 45-30 to run their season record to 15-4. A 49-21 loss came at the hands of high-powered Olympic, the team that pinned two the Sparts with two of their four losses this year.
The results bode well for the Spartans, who travel to Nathan Hale Friday for the Metro League Championships, with the regional tournament the following weekend. The state championships are scheduled for Feb. 21-22 in Tacoma.