It’s not the biggest local high school wrestling tournament. The HammerHead Invitational holds that distinction. But Central Kitsap’s Matman Classic, held Saturday, is regarded as the toughest wrestling event in Kitsap and one of the toughest in the state.
The 16-team tournament begins at 10 a.m. The championship round is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.
Joining host Central Kitsap is South Kitsap, Kingston, Olympic, Mount Spokane, Enumclaw, Tahoma, Lake Stevens, Orting, Lake Washington, Auburn Riverside, A.C. Davis, Graham-Kapowsin, Bethel, Eastmont and Moses Lake.
Why is Matman tough? Well, for one, it’s a one-day tournament. There is no resting overnight. And with solid teams from multiple classifications, you see some dynamite matches in the finals. Last year, we saw four state-champions compete at 145 pounds. North Kitsap’s Jake Velarde, who went on to win his fourth state title, ended up taking third after falling to Lake Stevens’ Eric Soler in the semifinals.
This year, Kingston’s three-time state champion Bobby Reece is competing for the first time. Reece, who was handed career loss No. 2 in the finals at the Pac Coast Invitational earlier this month, might be motivated to add a Matman title to help ease the sting.