The Thunder Mountain High School Falcons and Juneau-Douglas Crimson Bears got a taste of hard core wrestling last weekend at the Skagway Invitational.
Nine Falcons and 10 Crimson Bears traveled and wrestled 6-8 matches each, sometimes against the same opponent.
Over 48 wrestlers from TMHS, Juneau-Douglas, Mt. Edgecumbe, Hoonah, Haines, Gustavus, Pelican and Skagway participated in seven rounds of wrestling, followed by a spotlight round.
“It was a great first tournament for us,” TMHS coach Jake Jacoby said. “We got a lot of matches in, which was wonderful. We came out of these matches with things we know we now need to work on. I think practices will be more focused and more intense now that guys know what they are up against. Our losses were not one hundred percent losses, we made gains from all of them.”
Falcons’ sophomore Dylan Taylor lived up to early season projections of being a state qualifier, if not better, by going 5-3 at 145-pounds.
“He knows what he needs to work on for those three losses,” Jacoby said. “And understands where he stands right now and we have high hopes. He has been a leader on the team.”
Falcons’ sophomore Rick Johnson (6-0, 285 lbs) wrestled the same heavyweight from Juneau-Douglas and recorded six pins. The Crimson Bears’ Timothy Tulensa was wrestling up, as he did not make his targeted 220-pound weight.
Crimson Bears junior Jerry “JD” Hudson (0-5) had a deceiving record as his only opponent was the state’s second ranked 195-pounder from Mt. Edgecumbe.
“It was limited competition but it was nice competition,” JDHS coach Kris Mercer said. “When that kid was done wrestling JD he was ready to call it a weekend. It was a nice place start the season, get the edge off, get the skunk off the deck. Everybody got good experience. If you had to lose this was a good place to do that. There were not a lot of people there and we learned a lot of lessons.”
Complete results were not available for Juneau-Douglas.
A trio of Falcons’ freshmen posted 1-7 marks over the weekend: William Bear-Clark (160 lbs), Hunter Boyer (132 lbs), and Tyler Cole (132 lbs). Falcons’ sophomore Austin Drueckhammer (1-7, 145 lbs), who has not wrestled previously, was complimented as someone who listened and put comments to good use, getting a pin in his final match.
TMHS’ Bradley Gile (145 lbs) was off to a great one win (by pin) and one loss tournament until he was injured in the third match with a shoulder dislocation. The injury could put the talented freshman out of action for the remainder of the season.
Falcons’ Freshman Edwin Meyer (0-6, 113 lbs) missed his 106-pound weigh-in and wrestled the same opponent each match. Meyer was outweighed by seven pounds and two seasons of varsity experience.
“They were good strong matches,” Jacoby said. “He fought as hard as anyone out there. I think he had more fire than anyone on the mats. He was just against a bigger athlete and got beat, but not for lack of effort.”
TMHS junior Brylie Yadao (2-6) missed his 152-pound weight limit and had to wrestle up against a combined 160 and 170-pound weight class.
“It was good for him,” Jacoby said. “He had to work hard all weekend. He wanted to make 152 and didn’t, he now knows he really wants to be wrestling guys his own size.”
Mercer stated that lesson was found in the Crimson Bears as well.
“We will be focusing on our diet,” Mercer said. “I found out my team does not eat very well.”
Jacoby stated the Falcons made progress through the weekend.
“I saw better things for every wrestler as the meet went on,” Jacoby said. “We learned a tremendous amount about where we are physically. We have a good start being in shape but a long way to go to wrestle hard through three periods. As I said last week, we are a young team and will find the victories in our losses.”
Said Mercer, “It was a good first step. I am really happy with our performance. Next week will be an even bigger one.”
The Falcons and Crimson Bears will travel to Ketchikan this weekend for the Bill Weiss Invitational Wrestling Tournament.