Time to step it up for Gent.

Adam Gent represents Bremerton this weekend at the

Region I Class 4A Wrestling Tournament. That’s Gent,

as in polite, thoughtful, unassuming gentleman.

The Knights’ 171-pound senior, who wants to be a

special education teacher, radiates laid-back decency.

Gent is a Bremerton native, yet his voice projects an

easy-going lilt, a hint of a twang that could mark him

a refugee from a Garrison Keillor prairie yarn. When

he answers a question, he speaks slowly, choosing his

words carefully and pausing now and then to allow his

scribbling interrogator to catch up.

Jeff Barton, who has been head wrestling coach at

Bremerton since 1989, said Gent’s laid-back restraint

is the one weakness that could deprive him of a trip

to Mat Classic XIV.

“Sometimes his approach to matches has been a little

lackadaisical,” Barton said of Gent, who took a 21-5

record into regionals, which began last night at

Snohomish High. “Sometimes I’d like to see him a

little more intense.”

Case in point, Barton said, is last Saturday’s

sub-regional final against Olympic’s Clyde Switzer, an

opponent Gent already had handled twice. From Barton’s

perspective, Gent wasn’t much into the fray until the

final period, when he rose up and pinned Switzer with

48 seconds remaining.

An inside linebacker and fullback on the Knights’ 5-4

football team, the sport Gent intends to play at Snow

College, a jaycee in Ephraim, Utah.

“I always saw myself as like a football player,” Gent

said. “Wrestling was always something I did because I

looked up to all my brothers. There’s not a harder

thing in the world for me physically.”

Gent and senior 135-pounder Eric Smith (23-5)

represent Bremerton’s best hopes for a berth in Mat

Classic. At 18, Gent is the youngest of B.J. and

Louise Gent’s nine children, seven of them boys. Two

of his brothers, David (1988) and Mike (1993),

represented Bremerton at the state wrestling tourney.

At Snohomish, where the top four placers qualify for

state, Gent may get a rematch with Mariner’s Victor

Martinez, the No. 1 seed from WesCo South. Martinez

pinned Gent last month, but Barton said the Bremerton

grappler can prevail should they meet again.

“Adam was ahead 5-4, made a dumb move, got put on his

back and got stuck,” Barton said. “It’s one of those

matches Adam would like to have back.”

Gent has been something of a vexing conundrum for

Barton, whom he informed last November that he planned

to turn out for basketball instead of wrestling.

Barton remains uncertain if Gent, who recently broke a

rim while playing hoops in the school gym, was not a

little serious.

Gent did not wrestle as a sophomore, then endured a

disappointing junior year that ended at sub-regionals

with an ankle injury. Barton was plain-spoken in his

analysis of Gent’s junior year.

“I was really disappointed in him,” Barton said. “He

wasn’t in shape the whole year. He’s not what I call a

very good practice wrestler, and he was really bad

last year.”

This year, Gent rolled out of an upbeat football

season and into wrestling at seasoned 190 pounds. As

the schedule progressed, 12 pounds fell from his

frame. After taking a thumping against Central

Kitsap’s Tyler Moyer, wrestler and coach agreed that a

move to 171 would be best for Gent’s postseason


“Ability-wise and potential-wise he’s there, but

Adam’s got to step up and make the move,” Barton said.

“I’ve been working on him for four weeks on his mental

approach. That’s his biggest roadblock. The kid is

strong, he’s quick and he can be tenacious, but

sometimes he can be his own worst enemy.”

Gent, an Eagle Scout with a passion for his 13 nieces

and nephews, has wrestled on and off since age 6. In

the boys’ locker room earlier this week, he quietly

considered his impending trip to regionals as Knight

basketball players sang and carried on blithely in the

background. The words he came up with sounded like the

echo of a Barton sermon.

“I have to go out there knowing everybody wants to

beat me as bad as I want to beat them,” Gent said. “I

have to wrestle tough, not show any weakness to the

other wrestlers.”

He closed with a touch of Gent.

“If I don’t make it to state,” he said, “I guess I’ll

feel it was meant to be.”

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