SILVERDALE — Andres Garcia entered Saturday’s Matm

Senior improves to 15-0, earns championship at 189 pounds.

SILVERDALE — Andres Garcia entered Saturday’s Matman Classic with a perfect 11-0 record.

Not only did the Bremerton wrestler leave Matman with his record unblemished, but he also captured a surprising individual title at 189 pounds, outlasting Sequim’s Jordan Frost 7-5 in the championship round to improve to 15-0 and give Bremerton its lone first-place finisher in a tournament littered with state-caliber athletes.

Garcia, a senior, also earned the tournament’s individual sportsmanship award.

“It’s so much different from the rest of the tournaments that I wrestle all year,” Garcia said. “This is the hardest tournament I’ve had all year long and the guys are just pushing me really hard, I love it.”

The 32nd Matman Classic, hosted once again by Central Kitsap High School, didn’t disappoint as 16 teams and dozens of state-bound wrestlers dotted the tournament bracket, giving coaches and grapplers alike a chance to scout the competition leading into postseason play, which begins Feb. 6 with the two-day sub-district tournament at Olympic High School.

The Knights finished 12th in the team standings with 45 points, but entered wrestlers in just eight of the 14 weight classes. Graham-Kapowsin (202) won the team title, edging runner-up and Class 3A defending state champion Enumclaw (198.5) and third-place Tahoma (160).

“There was some good there,” coach Jeff Barton said of the shorthanded 12th-place finish. “That tournament right there is one of the toughest in the state on this side of the mountains.”

Barton said 119-pound Andy Belliveau wrestled “more aggressive” than he had in the past to give the Knights a boost in one of the lower weight classes. Garcia, however, stole the show.

“It’s really good competition,” said Garcia, who advanced to the championship match thanks to an 8-6 semifinal victory against Enumclaw’s Tyler Rewoldt.

The 189 bracket also featured Central Kitsap’s Howard McDonald, who narrowly missed the finals after losing to Frost in the semis in overtime, 13-11.

Garcia, who entered the tournament having previously wrestled at 215, took advantage of the lighter weight class to win four consecutive matches en route to the title.

“I am more comfortable at the lower weight,” he said. “The competition, I feel, is better, and it’s shown here.”

Barton said Garcia’s title at Matman should be a “springboard” for a successful postseason run. After being eliminated from the 2008 regionals with back-to-back losses, Garcia is now looking to advance to state.

“He just didn’t wrestle with the drive,” Barton said of Garcia’s 2008 regional performance. “He wasn’t tenacious.”

But now, with his season-long winning streak up to 15 and his weight down to 189, Garcia is where he needs to be to end the regular season, which still includes two duals and a tournament.

“I really want it, it’s my senior year,” Garcia said. “Plus, (now) the guys don’t have 10 to 15 pounds on me, wrestling at 189, and it’s a lot more comfortable.”

But the Knights are still suffering from an unbalanced, bottom- and top-heavy lineup. With three wrestlers at 112, an additional three at 215, but only one at 171 and Garcia just now making 189, Barton has been forced to forfeit some weight classes while having excess wrestlers in others.

“It’s really tough because we have a lot of gaps in our lineup,” said Garcia, whose brother Nicolas is among the Knight wrestlers listed at 215. “The guys are just moving forward, they’re trying harder.”

Barton also sent 12 junior varsity wrestlers to a tournament in Yelm Saturday, six of whom earned individual titles, giving Bremerton a total of 20 wrestlers in some form of competition over the weekend.

“They needed to wrestle kids at their own level,” Barton said of the JVs, all of whom are freshmen and sophomores.

Bremerton competes in the Klahowya Classic tomorrow before hosting Port Angeles.

Team Results

Graham-Kapowsin 202, Enumclaw 198.5, Tahoma 160, Rogers 144.5, South Kitsap 131, Kentwood 127, A.C. Davis 110.5, Central Kitsap 91.5, Olympic 60, Shelton 53, Lake Washington 45.5, Bremerton 45, Mt. Spokane 42, Auburn Riverside 39, Jackson 29, Spanaway 9

Championship Round

103—Bryce Evans (Rog) d. Ruben Navejas (KW) 6-2. 112—Cortney Nalley (Dav) tf. Tanner Sturdevent (GK) 24-9. 119—Efrain Aguilar (GK) d. Hunter File (Enu) 11-3. 125—Sam Bauer (Enu) d. Zach Nalley (Dav) 8-2. 130—Wayne Horton (Enu) d. Brian Bitney (Rog) 11-2. 135—Tyler Lamb (Tah) p. Kyle Fenton (SK) 4:41. 140—Jason Gray (Enu) d. Cody Quinn (KW) 8-6. 145—Jacob Jokela (Enu) d. Josh Musick (Enu) 6-4. 152—Brady Zurn (SK) d. Damion Shehan (She) 5-4 OT. 160—Tyler Story (GK) d. Conner Elder (Enu) 10-8. 171—Nick Bayer (Tah) d. Chris Sweet 7-2. 189—Andres Garcia (Bre) d. Jordan Frost (She) 7-5 OT. 215—Grant Haschak (LW) p. Konner Knudtsen 0:32. 285—Allan Thompson (Rog) d. Nathan Herrick (KW) 9-3.

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