The last time Peninsula High School junior co-captain Zach Goddard faced Bonney Lake’s Caid Caveness, it didn’t go so well. The state’s No. 2-ranked 145-pound wrestler overpowered Goddard, who didn’t have an answer for Caveness’ skill.
If Caveness expected to roll past Goddard again in the South Puget Sound League’s All-Division tournament in Auburn, he had another thing coming.
Goddard went back to the drawing board with Peninsula head coach Mark Nickels and put together a plan to beat Caveness in the semifinals.
“I just had to control the neutral position,” Goddard said. “Last time I wrestled him, he would just take me down and let me up. I just had a more defensive approach at it so that I could keep it a low-scoring match.”
Goddard defeated Caveness 1-0, and he went on to win tournament championship.
Nickels said they caught Caveness off-guard.
“We came up with a plan, and Zac did a great job,” Nickels said. “He really frustrated him. He likes to go in for low ankle picks; he didn’t have anything else to go to.
“We really shocked him. Not very many people really knew much about Goddard. He opened some eyes at the tournament.”
About 26 teams across all of the SPSL’s classifications were represented.
“It feels great,” Goddard said. “It helps my confidence and makes me realize what I can do this year.”
Goddard had his sights set on a top-five finish at the Mat Classic state tournament next month, but with his recent success, he said he’s now eyeing the state title.
“I think anything can happen,” Goddard said. “I think it’s a pretty good chance. I’m right up there.”
Goddard has worked extensively with Nickels to improve, most notably from on the bottom position and with quick escapes.
Peninsula finished 16th as a team. Nickels said the Seahawks were hurt by a few absences due to winter break. Other wrestlers were close, and Nickels said most of the issues can be fixed in practice.
“We had kids that easily could’ve been in the top six placings, if they had made a different decision,” Nickels said.
Sophomore Chance Stolz finished fourth in the 195-pound division.
“Stolz has really been coming on,” Nickels said. “He’s another kid that no one knows either in regards to wrestling. They look at the lineup and don’t recognize him in the bracket. A kid that’s highly seeded, Chance is a lower seed and takes him out, and they’re shocked — and he’s just a sophomore.”
While Peninsula doesn’t have some of the state-level talent it had last year, the Seahawks are deeper at more weight classes and are receiving contributions from many wrestlers.
Peninsula will travel to Enumclaw to take on the Hornets in a dual match on Thursday.