Gateway: Sports

Peninsula wrestling knocks off crosstown rival Gig Harbor

In Peninsula’s final dual meet of the season, the Seahawks’ wrestling team earned a 51-24 win over crosstown rival Gig Harbor. While every win is fun, beating the Tides is always a little extra special.

“We didn’t want to give the trophy up,” said Peninsula coach Mark Nickels. “We needed to keep that where it’s been. So it was good. I’m overall pleased with the way they wrestled. There’s definitely things they need to be working on, but we’ve got time.”

Peninsula was buoyed by several dominant performances, including pins by Brock Allen (126), Nathan Johnson (145), Nolan Casey (152), Luke Golden (182) and Jadon Chitta (106).

“It’s definitely nice to beat Gig Harbor,” said Nolan Casey, who earned a first-round pin over Gig Harbor’s Ryan Judd. “We know these guys, we see them at tournaments. We hang out with them. It’s cool to win. At the same time, after the matches, everyone is friendly. We’re the same community. It is nice to win the rivalry.”

The match of the night was in the 170-pound weight class, when Peninsula’s Isaac Casey faced Gig Harbor’s Zayne Ball. Both Casey and Ball both wrestled at the Mat Classic state tournament at the Tacoma Dome last season.

The match was tied at 1-1 after the third round, forcing overtime. Neither wrestler had much luck scoring, eventually forcing a fourth overtime, when Ball was able to stand up to earn a point and the 2-1 decision. Ball’s thought process, when both wrestlers were completely exhausted, was fairly straight forward.

“Get out,” Ball said. “That’s pretty much all I was thinking. Just do whatever I can to get out.”

Ball and Casey, both seniors, were an even match for each other. Ball got the better of Casey during their sophomore year, but Casey won a decision over Ball last year.

“I have a lot of respect for him,” Ball said. “I’ve wrestled him during freestyle, too, and he’s my workout partner during freestyle. So I go in there and wrestle him all the time. He’s a great wrestler. His defense is insane, so it’s really hard to get any shots in. We didn’t really score anything. The respect is mutual.”

It was Casey’s first match back from a concussion he suffered during a tournament, having missed the last couple weeks of practice sitting out due to concussion protocol.

“Conditioning-wise, he had been off the mats for a week-and-a-half or so,” Nickels said. “I just said ‘Hey, let’s get that motor back.’ I’m alright with it, quite frankly. I think it gives him something to drive for going into the district tournament. It never feels good to lose a match but I think they both wrestled hard. They know each other well enough that there’s not going to be some surprise. It was pretty much a match that you could’ve drawn up and predicted. It’s going to be low scoring, go to the wire. And it’s about who has the tank at the end of it and can pull something off.”

Peninsula junior Brock Allen delivered another workmanlike performance, earning a first-round pin against Gig Harbor’s Joey Boynton in the 126-pound weight class.

“I just knew that I’m dominant wherever I am,” Allen said. “I can control my opponents no matter where I am. Every time I go out there, I’m looking to pin. I’m not really messing around. I like to think I have a killer instinct out there.”

Peninsula recently won the Matman tournament, hosted by Central Kitsap, and is rolling with momentum right now.

“We’ve been trying to really ramp it up,” Nolan Casey said. “I think the coaches do a really good job of taking us to the hardest tournaments. Because you fail so many times, you’re able to learn and excel in our division. We’ve got the momentum, so we’ve just to carry it on the postseason.”

Nickels said the team is heating up at the right time.

“We’re looking to peak,” Nickels said. “This is the time to be doing it. It’s cleaning up the little stuff. The devil is in the details. We’re hitting our technique, we’re being sharp when we’re wrestling and we’re not letting each other in the practice room get away with poor position. … As far as the duals, we wanted to try to make a statement in the matches and assert ourselves going into the district tournament. We wanted to make sure the kids know where they stand.”