The chances of the Peninsula Seahawks stunning the Enumclaw Hornets in Thursday's South Puget Sound League wrestling dual weren't high, but it was reasonable to think Peninsula was going to score a few points against Enumclaw, which has won four of the past five Class 3A state titles.
As it turned out, Peninsula scored only six points, courtesy of 152-pounder Casey Larson and his pin of Justin Mitchell. The rest of the Seahawks were turned away, although some put up quite a fight and might have been victorious on a different day.
Missing three key starters, Peninsula coach Mark Nickels remained his usual upbeat self following Enumclaw's 65-6 victory.
"We are kind of thin," he said. "We had some good matches. We had some good competition."
Nickels gave an update on two injuries: Ryan Valley (138) tweaked his back at the Dec. 28-29 All-SPSL tournament. It's the same problem Valley has been dealing with for at least a year. Jake Ricco (152) injured rib cartilage at the same tourney, so Peninsula is being very careful about pushing him as the senior tries to earn his first state medal.
Here are a few photos from Thursday's SPSL dual, and below is the story that'll run in the Gateway's Jan. 9 print issue:
After watching his Peninsula High wrestlers get mauled in Thursday’s dual meet against Enumclaw, Seahawks coach Mark Nickels said what everyone else in the gym was surely thinking.
“There’s no question — Enumclaw is a tough team,” Nickels said. “We’re good, they’re great, and that’s just kind of where we’re at.”
Enumclaw, which is gunning for its fifth Class 3A state title in six years, made quick work of Peninsula in South Puget Sound League action. The Hornets took advantage of three forfeits, and won 10 of the 11 contested bouts.
However, the Seahawks weren’t competing at full strength. Regular starters Ryan Valley (138 pounds) and Jake Ricco (152) sat out after sustaining injuries a few days earlier at the All-SPSL tournament, and 132-pound starter Tommy Foreman was serving an academic suspension.
Peninsula’s lone victory of the night came from senior Casey Larson, who dropped down one division and pinned Justin Mitchell in the 152-pound bout.
The pair wrestled conservatively for the first three minutes. Leading 4-1, Larson’s patience paid off as he got Mitchell to overcommit, and he finished the pin at 3 minutes, 57 seconds.
“One of the things that Casey can do is get a little overzealous and jump into a situation,” Nickels explained. “He was patient, he waited for things to open up, he made things open up, and just took it when it came.”
The Seahawks had chances for victories in other matches, but couldn’t capitalize at key moments.
Peninsula’s Luke Holsinger (170) couldn’t complete an early pin of Falani Gill, although he had him in a lengthy near-fall position. The match had to be stopped twice because of blood dripping from Gill’s nose, but Gill rallied to take the lead in the third period and won 8-7 when Holsinger barely missed a late takedown attempt.
Nickels was glad Holsinger didn’t win by default.
“It’s a good thing it didn’t end that way and we were able to wrestle it out,” the coach said, “and I think that’s just going to make Luke all the more anxious to get another go at it.”
In terms of pure talent, the match of the night was at 145 pounds, where Peninsula’s Randy Nimrick and Enumclaw’s Lucas Somera met for the second time in a week.
Somera earned takedowns in the first and third periods, and kept Nimrick glued to the mat the rest of the way for a 4-0 decision.
It was a better result for Nimrick after Somera, a two-time state champion, pinned him at the All-SPSL tourney.
“This time, he came out and he wrestled his match,” Nickels said, “and it was not giving too much credit anymore to Somera and what he’s done. Randy’s done some stuff himself.”
The Seahawks forced two other matches to go the full six minutes, but the Hornets won both decisions.
At 126, William Lester picked up a reversal and closed within 7-4 in the second period, but Enumclaw’s Jared Paul eluded Lester’s shots and scored twice more, winning 11-5.
At 195, Peninsula’s Chance Stolz trailed the whole way against Wylie Stewart. A third-period takedown gave him hope, but Stewart polished off a 15-9 win with a late near fall.
Four of Enumclaw’s wins came by pin. Kyle Opland (106) beat Kelly Polk in 1:11, Garrett Jarosz (120) beat Daryn Hanshew in 2:55, Tyke Reid (132) beat Zach Herbold in 1:34, and Jayden Fend (138) topped Kevin McPherson in 1:16.
Enumclaw’s Ryan Anderson (160) earned five team points with his 18-0 technical fall against Zane Holland.
Peninsula returns to SPSL action Wednesday at Bonney Lake, and hosts Auburn Mountainview in its final league dual on Jan. 16.