Skyline High School wrestlers grapple with perfection
January 22, 2013
By Lillian O'Rorke
Despite never having a full roster, the Skyline High School wrestling team secured a perfect dual meet record Jan. 17, when it defeated the Ballard Beavers, 45-18, to clinch a 10-0 season.
“Throughout the season, we’ve been giving up anywhere from 6 to 30 points because of forfeits,” coach Gus Kiss said. “It’s adversity, and they persevered. They wrestled well through it.”
That night, the two teams wrestled as many matches as they gave up. The Skyline Spartans forfeited both the 182 and 285 weight classes, giving up 12 points to Ballard.
The Beavers’ take would have been twice that if not for the double-forfeits at 170 and 195. Skyline also gained 18 points when Ballard forfeited the three lightest weight classes.
The night’s action kicked off with the 126-pound match between Ballard’s Jaylen Schmid and Skyline captain Justin Manipis, who usually competes at 120. The fray hardly had begun by the time it was over — 29 seconds in, Manipis had his opponent down on the mat and pinned.
“I had to start off the team with some momentum, so I tried to do that,” said the Skyline senior. “But it all comes down to our coaching staff … we couldn’t do anything without them.”
Manipis’ plan to fire up his teammates appeared to have worked as JC Abboud pinned Ballard’s 132-pounder 1 minute, 12 seconds into the second period, giving Skyline a 18-0 lead. Skyline senior Alex Smith injured his knee in the 138-pound match, giving the Beavers their only win on the mat.
KingCo 4A Tournament
Ballard nearly grabbed another victory in the 145-pound match. Austin Daffron got off to a 2-0 lead in the first period when he took down Skyline’s Joseph Gurke.
After a scoreless second period, Gurke was still down 2-0 when he chose to start the third period in the down position.
Breaking away from Daffron’s hold, Gurke put one point on the board. The two opponents clashed for what turned out to be nearly all the remaining time, struggling unsuccessfully to take the other one down.
Finally, with only seconds left on the clock, Gurke struck and powered Daffron to the floor. The 2-point takedown gave the Skyline junior the 1-point lead he needed to win the match.
“It was clutch at the end, that’s for sure … At that point, it’s just do or die, so you just have to go for it,” Gurke said. “I was feeling a little tired out there on the mat. It wasn’t feeling like my night, you know. But I decided to power it through at the end.”
Continuing Skyline’s dominance, freshman Boden Longmore tech fell Kristjan Sigmar when he scored 16 points at 4:48 into the 152-pound match. At 160, Michael Mecham won by decision, beating Khasbold Bataa, of Ballard, 8-5. Sean McAlhaney grabbed the last match of the night, the 220-pound class, for Skyline when he outwrestled Jack Deal, 13-3, for a major decision.
“Tonight, it was about winning. We would have liked to have more pins,” Kiss said. “Ballard stepped up. There were some good, hard-fought matches. Gurke got pushed. Mecham got pushed. But, again, at the end we prevailed and that’s what important.”
The team’s docket will quiet down for the next week and a half as the Spartans make a few nonleague tournament appearances and focus on their end-of-semester exams. Several athletes, including Manipis and Gurke, are hoping to have dropped down a weight class in time for the KingCo Conference Tournament, which Skyline is hosting Feb. 1-2.
“It’s certainly nice that we are dual-meet champs, but it really doesn’t mean anything. It would be nice if we have a full team, but we don’t,” Kiss said.
While Skyline will bring some great scorers to the tournament, he added, Issaquah has a full team, and Woodinville and Inglemoor will bring some strong competition as well.
“Neither one of those teams have full teams and neither do we — so it is going to come down to, again, is it going to be quantity or quality?”