Grapplers' positive mat campaign opens

During wrestling practice at Bainbridge High School Monday, (above) Matthew Ritualo (top) turns Mark King over on his back. - JIM BRYANT photo
During wrestling practice at Bainbridge High School Monday, (above) Matthew Ritualo (top) turns Mark King over on his back.
— image credit: JIM BRYANT photo

Longtime assistant coaches Britton Johnson and Dan Pippinger take over the helm.

When Bainbridge wrestling coach Steve Hohl left for California, the school didn’t have to look far for his replacement.

Longtime assistant coaches Dan Pippinger and Britton Johnson are co-head coaches as the Spartans prepare for the 2005-06 prep wrestling season. Pippinger, a BHS graduate, has been an assistant for eight years, and Johnson is now is in his 14th year with the program.

“We know the kids pretty well, and we have our system down,” Pippinger said.

As for differences in coaching style, Pippinger said he and Johnson will “set a little bit higher expectations” for the team.

But Johnson feels that’s about all in deviations from their plans.

“We’re still doing the same exact thing (that we have been) for eight years, but now there’s a little bit more to do,” Johnson said.

They’ll also try to help the kids stay in a positive frame of mind.

“Steve kept things organized in a certain way,” he said. “We miss Steve, and he was really good at keeping kids motivated. He was really good helping guys and their self-esteem.”

The responsibilities may be bigger now, but the goals are the same: Help their squad develop wrestlers who can compete in the Metro League and send them to the Mat Classic in Tacoma.

They’ve got increased numbers – 19 are on this year’s varsity team spread out in every weight but two – and Pippinger said there are more wrestlers who committed to improvement.

“The kids we have now are really working at reaching another level and pushing themselves to be better,” he said.

Two who are reaching for their goals are seniors Ian Brooks (152 pounds) and Brian Robert (160). Both are co-captains and both won a match at last year’s Mat Classic.

And both coaches expect them to be in the top four in their respective weight classes at the end of the season.

“They’re a good example for the kids to follow,” Pippinger said. “As they go, we go.”

Other wrestlers who could be state contenders include sophomore Matthew Ritualo (112), senior Anna Lyons (125), sophomore Matt Tetlow (135) and sophomore Keith Robert (112), the brother of Brian.

Johnson said the focus for right now is on getting four or five to State, as other schools, including Bishop Blanchet, have the depth to get their team to State.

Another setback was the cancellation of their match against the Braves and their trip to the White River Tournament due to inclement weather. The team will try to make up the match at the end of January, and hopes to enter another tournament this month.

The big goal both coaches are working towards right now is getting more wrestlers involved in the program. Both Pippinger and Johnson coach freestyle wrestling at the Bainbridge Park District and have Woodward coach Matt Pedersen as an assistant.

They won’t deviate from their original plans, however.

“We’re trying to get four to five guys a year there,” Johnson said. “It’s hard to do, but if we can get them there, then they can do well.”

Bainbridge travels to Ingraham on Thursday, then will participate in several tournaments over the Winter break.

Their first home match is against Lakeside on Jan. 12.

* * * * *

Spartan wrestling

Thurs., Dec. 8 - @ Ingraham, 6:30 p.m.

Sat., Dec. 10 - @ Highline Tournament, 9 a.m.

Fri., Dec. 30 - @ North Mason Classic, 10 a.m.

Wed., Jan. 4 - @ O’Dea, 6:30 p.m.

Fri./Sat., Jan. 6-7 - @ Rainshadow Tournament

Thurs., Jan. 12 - Lakeside, 6:30 p.m.

Sat., Jan. 14 - 24th annual Island Invitational, 9 a.m.

Tues., Jan. 17 - @ Eastside Catholic, 6:30 p.m.

Sat., Jan. 21 - @ Renton Invitational, 9:30 a.m.

Tues., Jan. 24 - Chief Sealth, 6:30 p.m.

Thurs., Jan. 26 - West Seattle, 6:30 p.m.

Sat., Jan. 28 - Cross Sound Shoot Out, 2 p.m.

Fri./Sat., Feb. 2-3 - Metro Qualifying Tournament

Sat., Feb. 11 - @ Regional Tournament in Renton, 10 a.m.

Fri./Sat., Feb. 17-18 - Mat Classic XVIII, Tacoma Dome

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