Community Sports

Sports Beat | Peninsula wrestling teams sweep North Thurston

Posted on January 5th, 2024 By:

The Peninsula Seahawk boys wrestling team continued its winning ways with a complete team victory at home over the North Thurston Rams on Thursday, Jan. 4, by the score of 52-18.

The Seahawks debuted a brand new wrestling mat, but it was the same old story for the Rams, who were dominated by both the Peninsula boys and girls teams that looked well conditioned and technically sound throughout all of their weight class matches.

The evening began with the Peninsula girls snapping off five pins in a row to easily win the meet 30-6. Each girls match was similar: The Seahawks got control of the back of their opponents’ neck or leg to force the Rams off balance, then quickly gained side control before turning their opponent for a forceful pin.

The girls team is one of the state’s best. They looked like a John Deere mower on a sunny day as they cut down their opponents with ease before a respectful handshake ended their encounters.

At 105 pounds, a ripped Georgina Johnson, who placed at state last year, grabbed a single leg and forced her way on top for a pin at 1:24 of the first period to give the Seahawks a 6-0 lead. After a couple more pins it was Bailey Parker’s turn at 145 pounds and she didn’t disappoint with an aggressive move for a pin at the 1:34 mark of the first period.

The Peninsula boys wrestling team defeated North Thurston 52-18 on Thursday, Jan. 4. Photo by Bryce Carithers

“I feel really good,” said Parker, who finished fourth at state as a freshman last season. “I’ve been trying to work some new moves that I’ve learned into my matches. I need to become a little better with my footwork and smoother with my shots, though.”

Two of the girls who finished ahead of her at state last year graduated and the other changed weight classes, giving Parker a good shot at placing even higher in 2024.

Powerful 170-pound wrestler Lindsey Shipp got her opponent on her back in the first period, but the Ram was the best North Thurston had to offer. It took until the third period in a back-and-forth match before Shipp used a series of advanced moves to get the pin at the 1:23 mark of the third round.

Seahawk boys dominant in lower weight classes

On the boys side, the Seahawks took an early lead when Nehemiah Grandorff won his match at 157 pounds by a 7-3 score. He is explosive and almost drove his opponent into the scorer’s table before disengaging. His physical style set the tone for the night.

The next match featured the impressive Caden Wate, who walked onto the mat slow and deliberate at 175 pounds looking like Lucas McCain from the old western, The Rifleman. Wate has been in the weight room and it payed off as he erupted for a quick pin.

The 215-pound contest was the match of the night. Peninsula’s Joaquin Antoine was almost pinned with under five seconds to go in the first round. He arched his back to keep his right shoulder off the mat and barely survived as the buzzer sounded.

Facing a 5-3 deficit late in the second period, Antoine used a pretty cradle move to earn a pin with 26 seconds to go in the second period.

Peninsula’s Nehemiah Grandorff won his 157-pound match, 7-3. Photo by Bryce Carithers.

When North Thurston won the heavyweight class, Peninsula’s lead was just 21-18. But the Seahawks reeled off 35 points in a row in the lower weight classes to turn a close match into a breeze.

Justin Phipps placed at state last year and has long arms for his frame. He used his length to wrap around a 120-pound Ram and quickly threw him to the ground and pinned him within seconds. Phipps is known for his self invented “KP cradle” but didn’t need it Thursday night.

“I feel like this will be a good season,” Phipps said. “I know a lot more than I did last year, but I want to improve my strength.”

Phipps said he expects his 126-pound teammate, freshman Bryce Tillman, will win a championship one day. Tillman looked the part on Thursday, defeating a North Thurston senior in overtime.

From there Ben Thomas got a quick pin at 132 pounds, Skyler Daigle had his opponent’s legs straight up in the air before a pin the second period and David Howard abused a Ram with a series of body slams before earning a 18-4 major decision.

The Seahawks finished the night off in style when another state placer from last year, Marcus Reum, gave his opponent a couple legal head slaps before exploding for side control and a athletic pin to end the match in just 50 seconds.

Wrong Hawks win showdown in Purdy

The Peninsula boys basketball (5-7) team held a one-point halftime lead over River Ridge on Jan. 3, but the Hawks from Lacey exploded in the second half to claim a 65-50 win in Purdy.

In the first half, Gavin Sheets had a couple nice moves and a sweet 15-foot bank shot and Will Whiteley-Ross scored on successive driving buckets to take an early lead. Whiteley-Ross is a good athlete with deceptive quickness but he was unfortunately on a minutes restriction because of an injured knee.

The Seahawks’ press, led by quick guards Troy Arnold and Reece Redal, forced plenty of first-half turnovers. Cole Muilenburg had some physical rebounds and the Seahawks looked like they could force the Hawks to crack with their pressure.

But Peninsula’s shooting went cold in the second half, when they connected on just seven of 35 attempts.

“I feel like we overlooked them and we really rushed shots in the second half,” Coach Sean Muilenburg said, “which if you’re not hitting those it will get you out of a rhythm on offense.”

Redal led the Seahawks with 12 points. Cole Muilenburg and Issac Schultz-Tait had nine points each.

Peninsula plays at league unbeaten Gig Harbor (11-1) at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 10. The Tides put their league unbeaten streak on the line when they hosted North Thurston at 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 5.