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Bainbridge wrestlers tackle Tacoma’s Mat Classic, Spartan team hits hard, Miller breaks state’s top 10
The Bainbridge High School varsity boys wrestling team fought hard and managed to break into the top 10 in Tacoma last weekend during the 2014 Mat Classic XXVI State Tournament.
Several Spartan grapplers gave standout performances, barely being bested by some of the very best athletes in the state, and BHS sophomore Jack Miller finished in seventh place overall in the 138-pound bracket.
In addition to Miller, representing Bainbridge at the event was Jonathan Gallivan (120-pounds), Liam Topham (145), Dylan Read (152) and Joaquin Gurza (160).
Aaron Jumpa attended as the team’s alternate.
“As usual the competition at the state tournament was very tough,” said Spartan Head Coach Dan Pippinger. “I’m very proud of all these guys as well as their teammates that worked hard along side of them all season long.”
Pippinger said that several Spartans were forced to contend with top tier opponents very early on in the brackets.
“Jonathan Gallivan started us off with a quick takedown of the eventual State runner up from Decatur,” he said. “The rest of the match did not go quite as well, and Jonathan eventually ended up losing by pin fall in both of his matches.”
“Liam Topham [also] had two difficult matches, losing 11-1 to Dennis Good from Decatur in his first match and getting pinned by Larry Andersen from Columbia River in his second.”
The attending Spartan heavyweight did not have an easier go of things, said Pippinger.
“Joaquin Gurza was tech falled in his first match by third place finisher Conner Small from Liberty,” he explained. “His second match was a close one, but in the end Joaquin fell 4-2 to Tim Henderson of Peninsula.”
As the only attending Bainbridge senior, Read’s last shot at state was a particularly emotional moment for the team.
“Dylan Read had a heart-breaking tournament,” Pippinger said. “It started well, winning easily over Hayden Hohman from Mount Spokane. In his second match, which would have sent Dylan to the semifinals, [he] went into over time but lost on a takedown to eventual second place finisher Malik Haythorne from Hazen.”
It was then that things came to a disappointing end for the perennial home crowd favorite.
“His third and final match of his high school career was lost on a referees call for stalling, which made the match 2-1 in favor of Mason McDaniel from Juanita,” Pippinger said.
As for Miller, the top-ranked Spartan wrestler of the year, Pippinger said he had a good shot at going all the way but, despite a movie-quality turnaround win in his last match, was unable to make up for an earlier loss.
“Miller had a very good tournament winning several matches in the third round,” Pippinger explained. “He beat Zach Moore from Hazen 10-8 in the first round. His second round match was a tough loss on a first round pin by Brian Wais from North Central.
“To get to the second day and the medal round, Jack beat Joey Santos from Auburn Mountainview 4-2. Against Keoni Aparis from Decatur, Jack was in control and looking good, but was caught with a tough leg ride and pinned in the second round.”
It was a loss that would prove ultimately too damaging to come back from, no matter how cool the ending turned out to be.
“Jack finished on a good note for a seventh place finish, beating Conner Kerr of Shadle Park in dramatic fashion, tying the score with a reversal in the last 10 seconds of the match and then getting a takedown in overtime to win,” Pippinger said.
Miller himself, however, remained unenthused with his own performance and determined to rank higher next year.
“Seventh to me isn’t that good,” Miller admitted. “I pushed myself to do better, and I know I could have done better. I didn’t wrestle that good, as I would have liked to. The competition at state is just really tough.”
The sophomore Spartan said that the weak point in his game had literally been a lack of muscle.
“I should have lifted more,” he said in retrospect. “I just think I wasn’t lifting enough, and I kind of got weak cutting weight.”
In total, more 1,000 male and female wrestlers competed on 24 mats in the 2014 Mat Classic.
For some Spartans, it will be the last time at the big meet in the Tacoma Dome.
But with only two seniors departing the team this season, Pippinger said that next year promised to be a memorable one for Spartan wrestling fans.
“Spartan wrestlers bring it every day,” he said. “Of the five wrestlers who competed at state, four of them will be returning and will soon begin their training to reach a higher level next season.”