Central Kitsap coach Mike Harter was honored before Saturday’s finals
EAST BREMERTON — The wrestling community is close knit and driven by a work ethic handed down by generations. It widens to accept newcomers with open arms willing to teach them a special craft.
That openness and toughness with a heart was on display last weekend at the prestigious HammerHead tournament at the Kitsap Sun Pavilion.
It’s the way Central Kitsap wrestling coach Mike Harter would have wanted it. Harter died in his sleep last week, leaving a hole in the hearts of his family and wresting community.
Kitsap-area wrestlers took to the mats with a chance to bring home titles and six of them did — and many had their thoughts on the Harter family.
“I’ve known him … I used to go to his camps over the summer and he taught me a lot of things and made a lot of memories with him too,” said Olympic’s Anjelo Pangelinan. “It’s sad that he’s gone.”
Pangelinan won the 113-pound championship with a 10-1 win over Judeah Sanders of Woodland. Pangelinan was one of six Kitsap wrestlers who earned titles. That included South Kitsap’s Mitchell Neiner at 120, Logan Stafford at 182 and Xavier Eaglin at 138. The threesome helped the Wolves finish second in the team standings to Union of Vancouver 232 to 216.
“I wrestled him a couple times,” Stafford said of taking on Ayden Ganitano of Bethel and winning by major decision, 11-2. “He knows what he’s doing so it’s a better match for me.”
Stafford, a senior, said he was nervous before the match but was able to use that to his advantage.
“The more you wrestle, the more experience that’s really what I need,” he said.
Stafford also couldn’t be happier with the way the Wolves’ program continues to succeed.
“South’s team is great,” he said. “Our team bonding and stuff, we all connect so well. It’s just fun to be around.”
Eaglin beat Adam Borde of Port Angeles, 9-3, and Neiner won a 10-4 decision over Donnie Krissak of Bethel.
North Kitsap’s Robert Gomez beat Chance Bartelson of Puyallup by a 3-1 decision at 132, and Thor Michaelson, a freshman from Bremerton, won 8-4 over Puyallup’s Cody Bolstad at 145 pounds.
Michaelson said he faced Bolstad at the White River tournament, but didn’t know a lot about him.
“I feel like after you’ve wrestled somebody three, four times you get used to each other and it’s more of a hard-fought match, luck will get the best of it sometimes,” Michaelson said. “I like wrestling new kids more.”
It also meant a lot for Michaelson to win a HammerHead title his first time.
“It’s a pretty big deal locally and it’s pretty cool that I got to do it in honor of coach Harter this year,” he said. “That was a big thing. He’s been my coach for a while. That was pretty touching to get to wrestle in thoughts of him.”
Carli Durbin of North Mason won at 190B with a pin at 1:51 over Ashley Medsker of Tahoma.
Nearly half-a-dozen more earned second-place honors including Central Kitsap’s Quentin Lawrence at 106, North Kitsap’s Sofian Hammou at 220, Holly Beaudoin at 125, and Elise Scrafford at 135. Klahowya’s Phoebe Gordon finished second at 145B.