Eighteen North Olympic Peninsula high school wrestlers are competing for hardware and honors at the state championships starting today.
All levels will compete at the Tacoma Dome in Mat Classic 2006.
Port Townsend senior Sloan Gutierrez will try to wrap up a perfect season as he goes into the Class 2A 160-pound class with an unblemished 25-0 record.
Gutierrez captured third place at state last year at 152 and is on verge of the first perfect record at Port Townsend since 1984. With 22 pins, he is also one pin away from the school record.
His teammate, senior Will Bringgold, is making his third trip to state and is looking to place for the first time. He wrestles at 152 pounds.
Other returning state placers are senior heavyweight David Hopkins of Forks, who claimed fourth place in state last year at 215 pounds for Rochester High School, and Sequim seniors Anthony Gowdy and Andy Chinn, who both placed in eighth place last season.
Sequim takes six
The Class 3A Wolves will have six at state, the most ever. It ties with the six who went to state two years ago.
Both Gowdy and Chinn dominated at the regional championships last weekend and coach Mark Fischer has high hopes for his veterans.
But he’s not counting out any of his wrestlers.
“Experience helps but they’re all there,” Fischer said. “I wouldn’t count anyone as having a better chance than someone else.”
Gowdy, though, evidently finds it hard to lose because he has a 32-1 record.
His only loss was to Vashon Island’s Alex Stemer. Gowdy got his revenge when he beat Stemer the next week. Stemer will be going to state his second time in a row.
Chinn as well as juniors Nick Dickson at 171 pounds and Pat O’Sullivan at 215 pounds have at least 30 wins each this season.
There’s a chance Sequim could place as a team with six wrestlers.
“It’s possible we could place at state but it’s a long shot,” Fischer said.
Also wrestling for Sequim are freshman Anthony Drabek at 112 pounds and junior Zeb Frongello at 189 pounds.
Forks sends a boatload
The Spartans, meanwhile, will have eight athletes at state, including five with state experience.
“Absolutely, the experience counts,” Forks coach Kyle Weakley said.
“In your first time at state, you get the whole shell-shock out of the way. You have been there, done that. They are not just happy to be there any more.
“They know what to expect and they now can focus on getting some medals.”
Hopkins, who missed third place by one point last year, has a 22-3 record. He took second at regionals when he lost to Elma senior Luke Romero in the finals. Hopkins beat Romero for the Southwest Washington League heavyweight championship just the week before.
Others going to state for Forks include sophomore Robbie Wheeler at 119 pounds, sophomore Marshal Petrovich at 130, senior Phillip Buchmann at 112, senior Zane Ross at 135, junior Donny Holman at 152, senior Brandon Robinson at 160 and senior heavyweight Mike Blair.
Port Townsend sends four
Gutierrez and Bringgold are the major hopes for the Redskins.
Bringgold, 26-6, has been wrestling since the sixth grade. He said he hopes his conditioning pays off at state.
“I like to be in better shape than my opponent, and I work hard in practice,” Bringgold said.
Bringgold also is hoping his practice time against heavier powerhouse teammate Gutierrez will help him at state.
“He is quite a powerful guy,” Bringgold said about Gutierrez. “Wrestling Sloan helps teach me not just to be defensive on the mat, but to work on ways to take him down.”
Bringgold went 0-2 at state his sophomore year and won his first state match as a junior.“My goal is to make it to the second day,” Bringgold said. “I want to wrestle as hard as I can and finish in the top three.”