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Juneau-Douglas High School senior Robert Vicario studied hard before his big test at last weekend's West Valley Invitational wrestling tournament in Fairbanks, and he almost aced it.
Vicario, wrestling at 189 pounds, ran into Wasilla's Jed Wade in Saturday's championship match. Wade, a high school All-American, is undefeated in the state this season and recently finished third at the prestigious Reno Tournament of Champions competition in Nevada.
A daunting challenge - but Vicario paid attention during Wade's early matches, formed a plan and held his own for the championship bout, ultimately ending up on the short end of a 3-2 decision
But his second-place finish, combined with individual titles from Cody Wolf (103 pounds) and Isaac Cadiente (145) helped the Crimson Bears to a sixth-place team finish at the 16-team meet.
"We got to know he likes to work to the inside, so every time we got tied up with him I worked to the inside," Vicario said.
Crimson Bear coach Bob Mahon said Vicario entered the finals relaxed and stayed with his planned strategy most of the way. Vicario's trip-up, Mahon said, was when he tried for a moment to make the match more physical.
"Robert stuck to his game plan," Mahon said. "(But) he decided to stop and see how tough the guy was for a few seconds, and (Wade) showed him."
Mahon said Cadiente and Wolf were both aided in their title runs by the experience they gained from the team's trip to an Oregon tournament over the holiday break.
"(Cadiente) kept mentioning how good the Oregon trip was," Mahon said. "I knew Cody had it in him. He's come on so much (through the season), and the tournament in Oregon really helped him."
Juneau had three fourth-place finishers at the West Valley Invite - Gerry Carrillo at 103 pounds, David Liliedahl at 140 and Jake Ritter at 189. Logan Harvey claimed the 119-pound title in the junior varsity tourney.
In a dual meet against West Valley last Thursday, the Wolfpack won 30-21. Mahon was pleased with the result, since Juneau spotted West Valley 12 points in forfeits, and the Wolfpack went on to win the title of the weekend tournament.
"They couldn't do too much with us," Mahon said.
This weekend, the Crimson Bears head to their last regular-season meet in Sitka, where they will face the host Wolves and the Ketchikan Kings in a series of dual meets. It will be the last chance to tinker with lineups in competition before the postseason meets begin. The region meet will be held in Juneau on Jan. 31-Feb. 1. The state meet is in Ketchikan on Feb. 7-8.
"We're going to go in relaxed," Mahon said about this weekend's meets. "We're still trying to set up for regions."
The Crimson Bears saw nearly all the top teams in the state at the West Valley invite, providing a good preview for the state tourney. Ritter said he and his teammates want to build on their success from Fairbanks.
"When it comes down to state, it's how bad you want it," he said. "Everyone on the team is determined to get better."
Andrew Krueger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
WEST VALLEY INVITATIONAL
The team standings and top individual finishers from the West Valley Invitational wrestling meet held Friday and Saturday at West Valley High School in Fairbanks. The tournament featured 16 teams and had a 32-wrestler double-elimination bracket in each weight class.
Team scores (number of individual champions) - 1. West Valley (7), 208 points; 2. Wasilla (2), 195; 3. Lathrop, 186; 4. Skyview (1), 172.5; 5. Ketchikan, 153; 6. Juneau-Douglas (2), 130; 7. Soldotna, 127; 8. Dimond (2), 126.5; 9. Bartlett, 107.5; 10. North Pole, 104; 11. Sitka, 99.5; 12. Colony, 82.5; 13. East Anchorage, 64; 14. Palmer, 52; 15. West Anchorage, 28; 16. Kodiak, 0 (didn't show).
103 pounds - Cody Wolf (Juneau-Douglas) dec. Bo Kittley (Wasilla), 5-3. 112 - Eli Hutchison (Skyview) dec. Dustin Killian (Colony), 3-0. 119 - Kaylen Baxter (West Valley) dec. Shane Manuel (Bartlett), 7-5. 125 - Darin Pestrikoff (Dimond) dec. Jeff Bailey (Lathrop), 4-3. 130 - David Wiese (West Valley) dec. Brandy Goracke (Soldotna), 9-7. 135 - Matt McDonough (West Valley) dec. Justin Carlson (Sitka), 7-1. 140 - Billy Duffield (West Valley) over Jake Savely (Skyview), by forfeit. 145 - Isaac Cadiente (Juneau-Douglas) maj. dec. Matt Haseltine (Ketchikan), 12-4. 152 - Miles Dinstel (West Valley) dec. Brent Jensen (East Anchorage), 7-4. 160 - Abe Salmon (Wasilla) over Corey Crane (Wasilla), by forfeit. 171 - Mike Croffut (Dimond) dec. Zach Thompson (Ketchikan), 11-5. 189 - Jed Wade (Wasilla) dec. Robert Vicario (Juneau-Douglas), 3-2. 215 - Jay Fulk (West Valley) dec. Shawn Weigle (Soldotna), 9-4. 275 (Heavyweight) - Shane Tufford (West Valley) dec. Angelo Luna (Bartlett), 4-1.
Consolation finals (third-fourth place)
103 pounds - David Mann (Ketchikan) maj. dec. Gerry Carrillo (Juneau-Douglas), 9-1. 112 - Dennis Achman (Lathrop) dec. Zach Pfrimmer (North Pole), 9-3. 119 - Dustin Cline (Bartlett) dec. Clark Buffington (Skyview), 3-1. 125 - Dallas Seavey (Skyview) dec. Jes Boyd (Ketchikan), 6-5. 130 - Cody Phipps (Skyview) dec. Joe Harris (Lathrop) 8-4. 135 - Maston Thompson (Wasilla) dec. Shawn Olivera (Colony), 5-4. 140 - Jonah Stewart (Palmer) dec. David Liliedahl (Juneau-Douglas), 7-2. 145 - Mike Osborn (Lathrop) dec. Trevor Pempek (Palmer), 3-1. 152 - Sean Ritchie (North Pole) dec. Jeff Herron (Bartlett), 3-2. 160 - Jeremy Young (North Pole) dec. Colton Goracke (Soldotna), 5-4. 171 - Kyle Vanderwyst (Lathrop) dec. Jake Wade (Wasilla), 10-9. 189 - Keenan Chirhart (Dimond) maj. dec. Jake Ritter (Juneau-Douglas), 14-5. 215 - Adam Minshall (Ketchikan) dec. Greg Marlow (Bartlett), 8-4. 275 (Heavyweight) - Jon Hamilton (Ketchikan) pin. Josh Brantley (Soldotna), 3:23.
Fifth-sixth place matches (no team points scored)
103 pounds - Lucas Chambers (Sitka) pin. Scott Gordon (Dimond), 1:40. 112 - Ted Nelvis (West Anchorage) over Gunnar Brannon (Wasilla), by injury default. 119 - Lou Stephens (Dimond) dec. Dennis Hall (Juneau-Douglas), 6-4. 125 - Chris Odom (Wasilla) dec. Travis Rue (North Pole), 9-4. 130 - Jason Cline (Bartlett) over Brian Davis-Lucero (Dimond), by disqualification. 135 - Zach Aragon (Skyview) pin. Brandon Stoner (Lathrop), 3:40. 140 - Chris Bancroft (Bartlett) dec. Brandon Cleveland (Skyview), 6-4. 145 - Ben Breakfield (Soldotna) dec. Shane Michael (Skyview), 6-1. 152 - Dalton Bergman (Sitka) over T.J. Stone (Soldotna), by forfeit. 160 - Johnny Howarth (Soldotna) over Sam Denison (Skyview), by forfeit. 171 - Justin Rainwater (Skyview) over Zach Rohr (Skyview), by forfeit. 189 - Tom Doyle (Lathrop) pin. Chris Walsh (Colony), 2:25. 215 - John Olsen (Wasilla) dec. Gabe Nicholson (Lathrop), 10-7. 275 (Heavyweight) - Jeramiee Meisler (Wasilla) over Mike Loucks (Sitka), by injury default.