Bainbridge wrestling team doubles in size

Corey Touchette, right, practices with Jordan Wagner Monday. - Brad Camp
Corey Touchette, right, practices with Jordan Wagner Monday.
— image credit: Brad Camp

Every time the wrestlers enter the mat room at Bainbridge High School, they walk under a sign that reads, “Defy nature.”

For head wrestling coach Dan Pippinger, that’s the mantra he expects his wrestlers to follow every time they touch the mat.

“It’s really hard at the beginning of the season — you’re still not in great shape, you’re trying to get in shape, you’re hurting more than you’re feeling good,” Pippinger said. “It’s a lot of work to go 100 percent all the time.”

The team, which carried only 11 wrestlers last year, had 24 students come out this season.

Last year’s 19th-place state tournament finish was one factor in the improved turnout, Pippinger said.

“The kids are really excited about it, and have been pulling their friends in,” Pippinger said. “Me and my assistant coach, Matt Pederson, did some work with the football team over the summer — some conditioning — so I think that helped us.”

About two-thirds of the wrestlers are either new to the sport or freshmen, Pippinger said.

“With lots of these kids, they’re so new, their role right now is to learn,” he said. “There are kids at this point, if you can make it six minutes without being pinned, you’ve accomplished your goal.”

However, Pippinger expects his experienced wrestlers, like junior captains Corey Touchette and Karl Hunt, to score points for the team at matches.

“There’s a lot of sacrifice that they’re making for their teammates, which is what I appreciate most about them,” Pippinger said.

Hunt, who competes at 189, volunteers to practice with Logan Dieterich, the team’s only wrestler in the 285-pound weight class.

“Karl really sacrifices himself in a lot of ways knowing that Logan needs a partner,” Pippinger said. “Karl’s a good partner for him so hopefully it’ll pay off for him. It’ll seem like the kids are pretty light when (Karl) competes in matches.”

The Spartans have one returning wrestler with state tournament experience, sophomore Alec Greiwe.

Greiwe, who wrested at 102 in the state tournament last year, has moved up to 112 this season.

“I don’t think he’ll have much of a problem jumping weight,” Pippinger said. “Some kids have a real hard time going from 102 up, because kids just get older and stronger. It’ll be a bigger challenge to make it to state this year, for sure.”

The team also has two seniors, Brenden Henesy and Evan Jahrman, both of whom have wrestled for two years at Bainbridge.

The team will hold challenge matches Saturday to determine the varsity roster.

“Some years you come in you’ve got a senior class of kids and it’s pretty well set, and this year it’s pretty unknown in terms of what these kids will do, and where they’ll end up,” Pippinger said.

The Spartans host their first home match against Kingston, Forks and Chief Sealth Tuesday at 5:30 p.m.

While the matches will be new for many of the athletes, it’s just the first step toward achieving a larger goal.

“We’re telling kids that we’re preparing you to wrestle at the state level,” Pippinger said. “It may not be this year, it may not be next year. But if you go through our program we expect that. You’re going to be able to accomplish going to the state tournament.”

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