This year’s Gig Harbor High wrestling team is so young, it’s difficult to measure progress solely on wins and losses.
Freshmen and sophomores are filling many positions, and while the Tides’ practices are yielding positive results, the team’s tournaments and dual meets have been more about how well the wrestlers apply their instruction to a competitive environment.
That was the case in Thursday’s nonleague dual against visiting Mount Tahoma. The Thunderbirds earned a 45-24 victory, and the key was their ability to finish pins.
Out of eight contested weight classes, Mount Tahoma won five matches, and four came by pin. Conversely, Gig Harbor had only one pin among its three contested wins.
Tides coach Leonard Spadoni has noticed progress among his ninth- and 10th-graders, and they’ve done well in matches against younger opponents.
“Where we start battling, it’s against the older kids,” Spadoni said. “We still have a little work to do with our conditioning.”
Eli Wilson was the only Gig Harbor grappler to earn six team points. He defeated Brandon Simmons in the 170-pound match, getting three takedowns before completing the pin in 3 minutes, 35 seconds.
Wilson, a junior, has been one of the team’s strong points this season after he transferred from Peninsula High. He has finished second in a pair of tournaments, including the previous weekend’s event in St. Helens, Ore.
“We’ve been working hard in the mat room, so it just came natural when it came down to it,” he said of Thursday’s victory.
“I didn’t wrestle sophomore year, so it was kind of hard coming back to wrestling,” Wilson added. “I was fortunate enough to get a good mat partner (182-pounder Matt Smith), so we’ve just been working hard on the mat to really push our opponents.”
Spadoni said Wilson’s impact on the program goes deeper than competitions.
“He’s a great kid and leader,” the coach said. “He’s been showing up ready to go most all the time, and he’s a great encouragement for all the little kids.”
Gig Harbor’s Gavin Spadoni and Mac Davis also were victorious against Mount Tahoma.
Spadoni, the coach’s son, won his 106-pound bout with an 11-4 decision against Akaiyasia Summandig. Davis eked out a 6-4 decision against Aysha Richardson at 113 pounds.
Spadoni and Davis were in control of their matches but failed to turn their top-position advantages into pins. That’s something the team has practiced, Wilson said.
“We’re working hard on the headlock and moves like that to get into a takedown,” he said, “and then, from there, do a tight-waist-and-ankle and moves like that to get the points.”
Smith, one of the Tides’ few veterans, took a 4-1 lead on Zach Holt in the 182-pound bout. The match went back and forth from there, and Holt earned a crucial point on an illegal hold to take an 8-7 lead with 45 seconds left.
Smith let Holt escape so he could attempt a tying takedown, but Holt got the final two points instead and won, 11-7.
The Thunderbirds took charge of the other matches, beginning with 132-pounder Garrett Owen’s pin of Zach Musselman in 2:23. Jakob Wilson (145) pinned Micheal Ferrara in 1:37, Austin Colburn (160) pinned Blake Moser in 5:02, and Zach Dean (120) pinned LJ Iverson in 1:27.
The Tides have two more duals left in the Class 4A Narrows League. They’ll travel to Central Kitsap at 7 p.m. Thursday and host Olympia at 7 p.m. Jan. 24.
Leonard Spadoni hopes his young wrestlers continue to grow. They placed fifth at the Jan. 5 tournament in Oregon and had seven top-four finishers.
“They all seemed to show up to wrestle,” he said. “It’s always a wonder when you stay overnight at a hotel whether that’s going to be the whole trip, or they remember they have to wrestle, too.”Sports Editor Neil Pierson can be reached at 253-358-4155 or by email at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter, @gateway_neil.