Sports

Grappling with inexperience

Bremerton senior Matthias Moefedt, one of 13 newcomers to the Knights’ wrestling program, works on his double-leg takedown technique during a recent practice at the school with fellow senior Mark Williams. Williams is one of the eight returners on the team’s roster. - Photo by Rogerick Anas
Bremerton senior Matthias Moefedt, one of 13 newcomers to the Knights’ wrestling program, works on his double-leg takedown technique during a recent practice at the school with fellow senior Mark Williams. Williams is one of the eight returners on the team’s roster.
— image credit: Photo by Rogerick Anas

You will find them in the matroom at Bremerton High School: a cramped place with no windows that smells like sweat.

They crawl around and throw each other on the ground like gladiators fighting for their lives.

They are the wrestlers, led by coach Jeff Barton, now in his 14th season at the Knights helm.

During practice, the coach is all work and no play.

“Five, five and five,” he barks.

In unison, the team pops up and cracks out five jumping jacks, five sit-ups and five deep pushups on their nuckles.

This year will be a hard one for the Knights, he predicted.

“Right now we have too many holes in our lineup for a win,” Barton said.

One time, in 1991, Barton had 48 wrestlers turn out, but so far he only has 21. This year’s team is the least experienced he has ever had.

“If I had my way, I would have 40 kids in here,” he said.

Last year the team went 2-5 in league (2-7 overall), but this year Barton only has eight returners — Wally Grobler, Dexter Dream, Dustin Heistand, Tim Noles, Berry Sykes, Geogio Taylor, Mark Williams and Jireh Soriano.

“We’re really green,” he said.

Many kids have never wrestled before although some do have experience at the junior high level.

“Team unity is our strength. We don’t have any superstars, but we have a lot of guys that can gel as a team and hopefully make everyone better,” Barton said.

Barton lost his two state participants and team leaders from last year in Eric Smith (135 pounds) and Adam Gent (171), but he is counting on Grobler to rise in their place.

“We’re not real deep in technique,” said Barton, so he is working with the kids a couple hours each day after school on take downs, positioning and pins.

“It’s not easy getting beat on every day,” said Barton as he lunged at a wrestler’s feet and continued another day of practice.

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