Six repeat as state champions in Alaska
Wrestling is a two-season sport in Alaska. The small schools, which compete in Class 3-2-1A, concluded their season last weekend with their state championship. Big-school 4A will hold its state tournament in February.
Bethel, led by senior two-time state champion Trevour Chavez (160), won its third consecutive small-school team title, scoring 187 points. The real battle was for second place, with Kotzebue scoring 139.5 points to hold off Nikiski (130.5), Dillingham (129.5) and Valdez (124.5), which rounded out the top five.
Also winning their second state titles: seniors Darin Davis (106) of Sitka and Lincoln Johnson (195) of Nikiski, juniors Isaac Deaton (152) of Valdez and Luke Wagner (220) of Houston and sophomore Emery Booshu (132) of Nome Beltz. Davis’s girlfriend, sophomore Deirdre Creed of cross-town Sitka Mount Edgecumbe, also was a state placewinner, finishing fifth in state at 98.
Anchorage Grace Christian junior Anthony Walsh (126), third in state at 120 last year, dethroned the seventh and final defending champion, Tanner Thain of Craig. A takedown in the final 10 seconds gave Walsh a 7-6 semifinal victory over Thain, who won at 113 a year ago. Walsh then scored a 7-3 decision over Josh Mendenhall of Bethel, avenging two previous losses this season. Walsh was voted the tournament’s Outstanding Wrestler.
The 4A schools, however, did host their first dual state championship. Decisions by Bryan McKimson (98) and Logan Albrecht (106) helped seal Wasilla’s 32-29 championship-match victory over Palmer Colony.
With their wrestling seasons now over, many state place-winners now will join their school’s basketball teams. After becoming his state’s ninth four-time champion a year ago, Jared Miller became Dillingham’s starting point guard.
Team race for the ages in Minnesota
There were multiple story lines in a Minnesota State Christmas Tournament for the ages.
There was St. Michael-Albertville dethroning seven-time defending state champion Apple Valley for the team title, 256.5-247.5. Then there was Class 2A Kasson-Mantorville (245), which stole the show from the 3A powers by claiming five individual championships.
Gabe Shea (106), Minnesota recruit Nate Thomas (126), eighth-grader Brady Berge (132), Iowa recruit Broc Berge (195) and Sam Stoll (285) all won titles for Kasson-Mantorville. The KoMets had a sixth finalist, South Dakota State recruit Coltan Laganiere (138), who lost 9-4 in the finals to North Dakota State recruit Cole Sladek, one of two St. Michael-Albertville champions.
Brady Berge, up four weight classes from his state championship at 106 a year ago, nipped two-time state champion Kyle Gliva of Inver Grove Heights Simley 4-3 in a battle of unbeatens. Brady Berge shared the Outstanding Wrestler award with three-time state champion Jake Short (145) of Simley, who pinned four of his five opponents. Short’s teammate and future Minnesota teammate, Nick Wanzek (170), also won.
Two-time state champion Tommy Thorn (120) was the other champion for St. Michael-Albertville, which had just three finalists to Apple Valley’s five and Kasson-Mantorville’s six. The Knights, however, placed 10, compared to nine for the other two contenders.
All three Apple Valley champions, Gannon Volk (113), Mark Hall (152) and Paul Cheney (220), remained unbeaten.
Two titles headed west to North Dakota as Ryan Blees (160) of Bismarck and Preston Lehmann (182) of West Fargo, another North Dakota State recruit, won.
Canon-Mac edges Poway at Reno
After a subpar Ironman Invitational — by Canonsburg (Pa.) Canon-McMillan standards —the Big Mac headed west to the Reno Tournament of Champions and gained redemption with a 225.5-221.5 victory over Poway (Calif.) and the 100-plus team field.
Canon-McMillan placed six in the top three, led by Pittsburgh recruit Cody Wiercioch (170). All 14 Canon-Mac entries won at least one match and 11 won at least three times. Poway, which also placed six, got a title from senior Tirso Lara (106). Lara was a bonus-point machine, pinning five of six opponents and winning in the third round by a 9-0 major decision. Poway got at least two wins from 13 of its 14 entries.
Hayden Tuma (138) of Boise (Idaho) Centennial and Spencer Empey (220) of Sparks Edward C. Reed also pinned five of their six opponents en route to titles. Tuma’s 7-4 decision over Ralphy Tovar of Poway in the semifinals was his only match that went the distance, and Empey also had a second-round technical fall.
Canon-McMillan’s Alex Campbell (220), who impressed with his run to the Ironman finals, appeared to be on another finals collision course, this time with Empey. But Campbell was pinned 11 seconds into the second period of his semifinal match by Nevada state runner-up Cody Andersen of Winnemucca Lowry. Empey needed just 1:48 to finish their final, while Campbell finished third.
After losing a tight match to Bo Jordan of St. Paris (Ohio) Graham in the Ironman finals, Isaiah Martinez (160) of Lemoore (Calif.) dominated en route to his title. An 11-5 decision in the third round was the only one of the Illinois recruit’s six bouts that didn’t result in bonus points. He had three pins, a technical fall and a 12-3 major decision in the finals over Kimball Bastian of Spanish Fork (Utah) Maple Mountain, which finished third in the team race with 173.5 points.