Sunset wrestling starts strong, stones Skyhawks in Metro League dual

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Sunset 182-pound wrestler Kincaid Crile celebrates his pin in the second round against Southridge on Thursday. Criles pin was the only Apollo pin on the night for Sunset who won 36-19.

The Sunset wrestling team did most of its damage in the first nine matches.

By then, the Apollos were just about done, and so was Southridge.

Sunset took eight of its first nine head-to-head match-ups with Southridge at home on Thursday, all of which went the distance to help the Apollos win their third Metro League dual meet of the season, 36-19. The surprising Apollos continued to stay atop the Metro League with the victory, setting up a showdown with defending conference champion Aloha on Feb. 6.

“It was all in our hearts,” said 126-pound Adam Simmons. “We needed to win these matches, and we knew what we needed to do. We knew we were better wrestlers than them. We were better conditioned than them. I love this team. Whenever someone’s doing something bad, we push them. It’s not the nicest way, but we’re making each other better as a family.”

“It says a lot about how bad we want it, versus how bad the other teams in the Metro League want it,” added Sunset junior Spencer Sparks. “I feel like we have the bigger heart. I think now that we have a taste of success, especially beating Southridge, now we’re just going to keep progressing.”

“The last few years Southridge has been the dominant team in Metro,” said 182-pound Kincaid Crile. “It’s always nice to beat a team like that, especially in that fashion. We really wrestled freaking hard today. There’s nothing that can replace that. There were a few matches that could’ve swung either way, but we pulled it out. It was intense all night.”

Simmons, Stokes, 106-pound Daniel Linnell, 132-pound Hayden Stockwell, 138-pound Quin Bingham, and 160-pound Logan Lachenmeier all won in six-minute bouts with their respective Skyhawk opponents, a strong testament to Sunset’s stamina level and survival of the fittest mentality. Getting pinned wasn’t a choice in the minds of the Apollos. Garnering victories and contributing to the overall success of the team was the only option.

“We’re really starting to want to win,” said senior Nathan Burnett. “Even when we’re tired and feel like we can’t move and there’s a minute left in the third round, we still want to win and we still get the win.”

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Sunset 126-pound wrestler Adam Simmons was one of eight Apollos who won in the lower weight classes to help Sunset defeat Southridge on Thursday.

Simmons said that whenever Sunset mucks up in practice, the coaches make them do sprints around the mat and rope climbs, among other things, knowing the Apollos have to be in peak physical form to outlast their opponents. A team that practices three hours a day and follows the tireless lead of their captains Stokes and Burnett, Sunset takes pride in being fitter and fresher than its Metro League foes.

“To win big tournaments and matches we have to condition,” said Simmons. “We condition a lot. We’ve been training and training and we just knew we were going to beat them in close matches. We came out and wrestled really well.”

Southridge’s Jack Chimenti studied up on Simmons and knew the Apollo was going to attempt throws early in the match. Simmons, in succession, had to be patient, which was tough for the confessedly itching-to-shoot grappler.

“I threw him out of bounds, didn’t get the points,” said Simmons. “And then I chucked him out of bounds, got the takedown to get the points. So, I knew I just had to take it to him. That’s when I really started scoring. I knew his shot wasn’t good enough, so I tilted him back, got my points and put him to his back.”

But, Simmons scored a takedown with 1:20 to go in the third period to take a 3-2 advantage. Then the Apollos piled up four more rapid-fire points including a near fall to clinch the six-minute win.

For Simmons, who tore his ACL and missed his sophomore season, chopping down Chimenti was as gratifying as could be.

“I felt the kid break,” said Simmons. “It’s just knowing you put more effort into it than he did. It was knowing I came off my injury and worked harder than he did. And I made up a season, and now I beat him pretty solidly. It just felt awesome.”

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Sunset 170-pound senior Nathan Burnett beat Southridges Jordan McRae by major decision on Thursday to help the Apollos upend the Skyhawks.

Burnett felt his 8-0 major decision win over Jordan McRae in the 170-pound match would be the “minimum” of his performance going into the match. Setting the Sunset season pin record has been on Burnett’s mind since the start of the year, but McRae grappled defensively instead of giving six points to Sunset. Burnett was forced to dance around the mat for six minutes, jumping out to leads of 4-0 and 6-0.

In the third period against Southridge’s Nathaniel Piwonaka, tied at 3-3, Sparks plunged himself at Piwonka’s legs and scored the two-point takedown for the decision, much to the chagrin of the Skyhawk patrons in the stands. Sparks said he wasn’t super happy with his performance, but it was a win for the team nonetheless.

“I didn’t set it up very well, but I dove in and said I wanted it,” said Sparks.

The only Apollo pin of the night was recorded by a hyped-up 182-pound Crile, who compressed Southridge’s Immanuel Susi in the first round. The dual was in hand by the time Crile walked onto the center mat, but that didn’t stop the junior Apollo linebacker from sacking Susi to the canvas and scoring six more points for Sunset.

“It’s a great feeling, just indescribable,” said Crile. “I knew I wanted to go for his legs, but I was psyched to get that pick. I got rolled at first, but I recomposed myself. I knew it was my match, so I had to treat it like it.”

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Sunset 152-pound wrestler Spencer Stokes scored a takedown in the final 30 seconds to beat Southridges Nathan Piwonka on Thursday.

As Burnett pointed out, it’s hard to get too worked up over a dual match, because all that matters in the big picture scheme of things are the regional and state meets. Although, like Burnett later said Sunset’s been on the bottom of the Metro League for so long that any measure of success should be celebrated as a program.

“If you go 40-0 during the regular season and don’t qualify for state, that doesn’t mean anything,” said Burnett. “But, for the team it’s nice having team success. It brings people in harder in the practice room. Everyone works harder. It’s been a rough first three years, so it’s nice to get the team into it.”

“We almost have to treat it like it didn’t happen,” added Crile. “We have to keep working in the practice room, keep working harder and harder. We’ll come back next week ready to go. This really means nothing. We have regionals and for the team that’s what really matters. We have to keep being fired up and keep going hard.”

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