Leonard Spadoni knows this year’s postseason ride might be a short one for his Gig Harbor High wrestling squad, but the coach saw progress as the Tides finished their dual-meet season on Thursday.
The Olympia Bears defeated the Tides 51-26 at John Gorrow Gymnasium, and Gig Harbor finished the Class 4A Narrows League season with a 1-5 record.
The good news? Most of Olympia’s points came from five forfeits, and the Tides won five of the eight contested bouts.
The Bears and Tides are similar programs, Spadoni said, because their varsity lineups are heavy with freshmen and sophomores. Gig Harbor has matched up well against those teams all season, and the trend continued last week.
The Tides will open their postseason at 4 p.m. Friday with sub-regional action at Foss High in Tacoma, and they’ll need to keep winning matches against less-experienced opponents. Only the top-three finishers in each division will advance to the Region III championships, a result of the Narrows League dropping from eight teams to seven in the state’s new classification cycle.
“It’s a tough battle when you only get to lose one (match) in two days,” Spadoni said. “I don’t know how many we’ll get through. Top three is tough, and we may sneak someone in the lighter weights, but we’ll see.”
Gig Harbor’s freshman class has built on some prior experience and is beginning to round into shape. Michael Ferrara and Max Batanian each won their matches against Olympia with convincing major decisions.
In the night’s opening match, Ferrara, a 145-pounder, scored seven points in the first period, then had Jacob Bocook in a near-fall position for the latter half of the second period. He settled for a 14-0 major decision.
“He stayed within himself instead of trying to do more than he knew,” Spadoni said. “He did a nice job, and wrestling a freshman, they both had comparable mat time, and that helps a lot.”
Batanian (152) gave the Tides an 8-0 lead with his 13-5 triumph over Patrick Flannery. Batanian couldn’t finish the pin as part of an eight-point first period, and he scrambled out of trouble in the third when Flannery picked up a near fall.
“He’s actually our other 145, and they had a freshman at 152,” Spadoni explained, “so then we bumped him up to wrestle up there, even though he’s giving up some weight. He has a lot of technique to stay within himself.”
Blake Moser, a sophomore 160-pounder, gave the Tides their third straight victory. Despite some back-and-forth maneuvering with Adam Labouff, Moser scored the first eight points and finished the pin in 3 minutes, 19 seconds.
“I used my hips really well, and I was just doing really good at scrambling,” Moser said. “I was kind of scared a little bit at the beginning, but I think that’s normal now.”
Moser symbolizes a Tides team that knows it has a tough task in the postseason. He’s hoping to advance to the regional round.
“I’ve had my ups and my downs,” Moser said of his season. “I don’t think I’ve been doing as good as last year, but hopefully it’ll all just fall together in postseason.
“I’m just going to work hard and keep my weight down so I don’t have to do anything horrendous and I’m not tired before I wrestle.”
After the Bears fell behind 14-0, they took charge. Charlie Allaire (170) pinned Eli Wilson in 2:42, and Josh Newbill (182) pinned Matt Smith in 1:18.
At 106, Olympia’s Trevor Shaw patiently outworked Gig Harbor freshman Gavin Spadoni and picked up a 10-4 decision.
Erik North (126) was Gig Harbor’s other winner. He started the second period in the bottom position, picked up a quick reversal and pinned Jake Coons in 3:02.
The dual finished with Olympia’s Logan Pine (132) pinning Zach Musselman in 2:21.
The Tides have progressed since the start of the season, and their improvement was evident during a two-week span following a loss to Mount Tahoma.
“They’re coming along really well,” Leonard Spadoni said. “They showed a lot better this week than they did in the last home dual.”Sports Editor Neil Pierson can be reached at 253-358-4155 or by email at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter, @gateway_neil.