Thunder Mountain High School’s Carl Tupou set out on a mission this wrestling season.
Tupou accomplished that mission — winning a state title — Saturday night at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage at the ASAA/First National Bank Alaska Wrestling State Championships.
The muscular senior defeated Lathrop High School’s Jason Edwards with a 10-6 decision in the finals to become the Division I 220-pound state champion.
“It was indescribable,” Tupou said by cellphone Sunday of winning it all. “I felt so accomplished. The season all came together and I couldn’t have been happier with the turn out.”
The Falcons wrestler was ahead 2-1 after the first period against Edwards. Tupou was more active than Edwards in the second period, but only added one point to his lead, 5-3, heading into the third period.
Both Tupou and Edwards were treated for bloody noses in the third period as the former retained the lead all the way until the end.
TMHS finished 12th overall in team standings as Lathrop (320 points), Colony (318 points) and South Anchorage (264) claimed the top-3 team finishes.
TMHS wrestling coach Jason Boyer said Tupou’s win gives credence to the senior’s strong work ethic.
“Determination, hard work and perseverance again paid off, just like it did with (2016 TMHS state champion) Cody Weldon,” Boyer said. “It gives credit to our program that we have what we it takes to produce (state champions). We just need the kids to have the desire to reach that level and know that it’s going to take a ton of hard work and dedication to get there.”
Tupou was 1-1 against Edwards heading into the championship match.
In the first round of the state tournament, Tupou pinned East Anchorage High School’s Dwayne Nichols in 2 minutes, 2 seconds. Tupou couldn’t pin his next opponent, Kenai Central’s Seth Kruse, but was in control of the match.
“I kept taking shots, taking him down, wasn’t able to roll him over so I just kept taking shots to accumulate more points,” said Tupou, who won by an 8-3 decision to advance to the semifinals.
Tupou met Service’s Kaden Caldarera in the semifinals. Last season, it was Caldarera who Weldon defeated in the finals.
The match was close throughout, but Caldarera hurt his left knee late in the third period. As Caldarera was hampered by the pain in his leg, Tupou went for a take down on the right leg in the closing seconds to furnish a 7-4 decision and advance to the championship match.
Nate Houston, Jahrease Mays, Conor Norman and Jake Mason all won matches at the state tournament. Here is a breakdown of the seven TMHS wrestlers’ performances other than Tupou at the state championships.
Nate Houston — 106 pounds
Houston pinned Bartlett’s Christian Chavis in just 32 seconds but faced the eventual state-champion in the next round.
South Anchorage’s Aedyn Concepcion, who entered the tournament with a sparkling 47-0 record, pinned Houston in 3:16 to send Houston to the consolation bracket.
Jahrease Mays — 113 pounds
Mays won his first two matches over Bartlett and Wasilla competition in the 113-pound weight class.
Mays, who placed fourth in the 106-pound weight class as a freshman, took on Colony’s Marcus Riedlinger in the third round. Riedlinger pinned Mays at 1:49 and Mays forfeited his consolation match against Ketchikan’s Patrick Rauwolf, whom Mays defeated the prior weekend at the Region V Championships in Ketchikan.
Conor Norman — 120 pounds
After getting bounced into the loser’s bracket, Norman triumphed against East Anchorage’s Haysen Madrid with a 13-2 major decision.
Norman kept the momentum going in his favor against West Anchorage’s Thomas Fitzgerald, whom he defeated in a 6-3 decision. Norman met his match in the next round though against South Anchorage’s Niko Mayo, who pinned Norman at 2:37.
Cody Requa — 132 pounds
Jacob Dyer of Palmer pinned Cody Requa at 1:50 in the first round. In the next round, Requa fended off Matthew Sanchez of Lathrop for several minutes before Sanchez pinned him at 2:35.
DJ Scott — 145 pounds
DJ Scott was pinned at 3:46 in the first round to Ethan Kraus of Wasilla. In the next round, Sergio Cuellar of Service pinned Scott at 1:39.
Steven Ireland-Haight — 170 pounds
Steven Ireland-Haight went the distance against Wasilla’s Jacob Anderson in the first round but Anderson pinned Ireland-Haight at 5:33. Ketchikan’s Dawson Entwit, the 2017 Region V 4A champion, eliminated Ireland-Haight from third-place contention with a 2:37 pin.
Derek Mason — 182 pounds
Mason recovered from a first-round overtime defeat to earn a 7-2 decision against John Grossl of Kenai Central. Mason came up just short in the next round to West Anchorage’s Kelton Mock, who eliminated Mason from the consolation bracket by way of a 4-3 decision.
• Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or firstname.lastname@example.org.