The wrestling season is on the brink of, well, one could almost say extinction.
In what could be a preview of the Region V Southeast Conference 4A wrestling championships, Ketchikan won duel meets against the visiting Crimson Bears and Falcons over the weekend in the “First City.”
Kayhi nearly went with a perfect score (78) in a 77-0 win over Juneau-Douglas, and toppled Thunder Mountain 58-10. The scores are reflective of the limited participants the Juneau schools put on the mats.
Against JDHS, Kayhi won 10 matches with byes, which accounted for 60 team points. In the three matches the two teams did grapple Ketchikan won each; Logan Collin pinned JD’s Sam Adams in one minute 55 seconds at 138-pounds, Kenny Hamilton won by technical fall 17-2 over JD’s Malika Brown at 152-pounds, and Kohl Hallmann pinned Jerry Hudson in 3:01 at 182-pounds.
Against TMHS, the Kings again jumped out with a lead due to the benefit of seven empty Falcons’ weight classes. Ketchikan was up 42-0 before the first match started.
Kayhi outscored the Falcons 16-10 in the six individual matches competed.
The Falcons’ Thomas Riley continued his quest for another region title and a repeat trip to the state tournament by stopping Ketchikan’s Ian Rud 5-1 at 132-pounds, teammate Jackson Pavitt won a hard fought 7-2 decision over Kayhi’s Dalton Spear 7-2 at 170-pounds and TMHS’ Stephen Patz put a major decision hurting on the Kings Kohl Hallmann 12-0. Falcons on the losing end included Shawn Taylor falling 14-1 to Logan Collins at 138-pounds, Dylan Taylor losing by pin to in 55 seconds to Shiloh Mackey at 160-pounds, and Devin Womak to a Davo Wake pin in 1:51 at 170-pounds.
In exhibition matches: Adams (JD) dec. May (K) 8-0); Hoch (JD) dec. McBurnett (K) 12-5; Collins (K) tech. fall Brown (J) 18-1; Hudson (J) dec. Stout (K) 2-1; Rud (K) pin Adams (J); Brown (J) dec. May (K) 6-5; Hamilton (K) pin Hoch (J); Frizzell (K) pin Hudson (J); Collins (K) def. Riley (TM) 10-6; Rud (K) def. S. Taylor (TM) 9-0; D. Taylor (TM) dec. May (K) 9-4; Deboer (K) dec. Pavitt (TM) 6-5; Spear (K) pin Womack (TM); Patz (TM) maj. dec. Frizzell (K) 10-1; Riley (TM) pin Barr (K); McBurneet (K) maj. dec. S. Taylor (TM) 16-6; Womack (TM) dec. Hallmann (K) 8-1; Wake (K) dec. Patz (TM) 8-6, OT; Pavitt (TM) dec. Williams (K) 7-6; Deboer (K) tech. fall Brown (J); Womack (TM) dec. Stout (K) 5-3.
With the Region championships set to begin Saturday at Thunder Mountain High School, these same three teams will be battling for individual trips to state.
This is definitely not your father’s wrestling tournament, or yours if you remember back to a season in the late 1970’s when large and small schools competed during the same months of the year.
For many of Southeast’s 4A high school wrestlers the season is about to come to a screeching halt, in part due to the lack of turnout for both Juneau-Douglas and Thunder Mountain’s programs, and for the fact that the 3A and 4A seasons are staggered, meaning less competition and less quality time on the mats.
Just three teams will compete in around 30 individual matches at the region tournament.
Only Ketchikan fields a complete weight bracket roster and JDHS and TMHS have a combined 13 wrestlers.
Many of the tournament weight brackets will include just two wrestlers, and only the top wrestler in each bracket goes to the state championships where other conferences may have up to three in each. That means a team championship at state is hard to come by for Southeast schools.
There is a possibility additional wrestlers from southeast who do not win the region title can make the state tourney this season. The Mid Alaska Conference is short on 4A teams this season and won’t fill its three alotted slots. The Southeast and MAC are allowed to work together to fill state tourney spots.
The Southeast region championships used to be a three-day event that not only ran the wrestlers ragged, but the coaches, school administrators, tournament officials and volunteers; And it brought in a number of fans from out of town who fought for seats among the locals.
Now a solid fan base is hard to come by. At a recent middle school wrestling meet, 35 Floyd Dryden grapplers went up against 15 Dzantik’I Heeni wrestlers, in front of a packed bleacher section.
The Eagles also had their share of forfeits over the Wolverines, but they did so in front of a boisterous crowd, exactly the type of crowd that is needed on Saturday to cheer the JDHS and TMHS individual grapplers on to the state tournament.
Region V preliminary action begins at 10 a.m. Saturday and finals start at 2 p.m.