Wrestlers pulling their weight

The Bainbridge High School wrestling team has been grappling to find an edge this season.

While they’ve continued to falter as a team, the Spartans are experiencing quality efforts from individuals.

“Too few wrestlers, too many forfeits,” said coach Steve Hohl of the results against Chief Sealth and at the Rainshadow Tournament in Sequim over the weekend.

There, Bainbridge placed 17th in a field of 19.

While slipping 42-30 at Chief Sealth last Thursday, Zach Smith closed out for Bainbridge at 135 pounds, defeating Tristan Harris just 1:26 into his match.

Since the holiday break, Smith has redoubled his efforts and his focus.

Going into last night’s match against West Seattle, his record now stands at an excellent 17-1.

“I just love to compete,” said Smith during recent workouts.

While admitting that the training regimen is tough, he said, “there’s no way around it. But when I get out there to wrestle, there’s no hiding. It’s me and the other guy. I love it. It’s amazing.”

The drama against Chief Sealth came from Ian Brooks midway through the dual meet. Brooks lost a close, 8-6 decision to Michael Torres in a dramatic effort at 160 pounds, two classes above his normal wrestling weight.

Hohl called the loss “heartbreaking.”

“He did well wrestling above his weight, almost pulling out a win,” the coach said.

The Vikings used the three points to close on the Spartans’ early lead. Five Spartan forfeits and three losses followed, putting the Spartans in an insurmountable position on the scoreboard.

Traveling to Sequim, Bainbridge also had to wrestle the weather going there. A highway accident delayed half the team and the tournament.

Both Brian and Keith Roberts were the victims of one of the toughest weight classes, losing in tight decisions against a heavy-duty field at 112 pounds.

“There’s always one or two weight classes that are loaded,” said Hohl, noting losses there were within one, two or three points. “They did well but got caught in a class that was loaded with studs. Sometimes it works that way.”

Brooks’ effort paid off at the Rainshadow Tournament. Wrestling at his normal weight of 145 pounds, he scored four wins to two losses, improving his record to 16-5.

His two losses came to Hoquiam’s Julien Perrine in the second round, and in his final match on Saturday for third place.

The two decisions favored Perrine, with Brooks taking home the fourth place medal along with plans to meet Perrine again at State.

The only way for a rematch between the two would be in the state tournament scheduled for the weekend of Feb. 17.

Looking like he’s also ready to make reservations for that weekend was Smith, who plowed through Sequim with four straight wins.

Only Jaquis Bell of Mount Rainier managed to lose on points against Smith, who was awarded the “win by fall” against Jake Amadeo of Clover Park in the championship match.

Bainbridge wrestling stages its biggest home event this weekend, the annual Island Invitational Jan. 15 at Paski Gymnasium. On the card are teams from 12 schools.

The meet will be preceded by a pancake breakfast fundraiser in the high school cafeteria from 7-9 a.m., where the public can mingle with the wrestlers and other parents. Wrestling action is scheduled to start at 9:30 a.m.

“We put the breakfast on as a convenience for the competitors, but the public is invited,” Hohl said. “You can’t beat the meal, which is by donation. Usually four bucks or so.”

The Island Invitational finals are scheduled to start at approximately 5 p.m.

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