The return of Juneau-Douglas High School wrestler Dante Santos proved to be perhaps the lone bright spot of an otherwise dismal weekend for the Crimson Bears.
Santos, back from a four-week vacation, won the 119-pound championship at the Glenn Vandergaw Dimond Classic Invitational Tournament on Saturday.
But while Santos' victory lifted the Bears' spirits, the team also suffered a devastating setback.
Juneau's 145-pounder, Matt Barry, suffered a season-ending injury Thursday while wrestling against Wasilla. Barry, Alaska's top ranked wrestler in his weight class, broke his right collarbone while wrestling Trevor Penpek.
"It's been a brutal weekend," JDHS coach Kris Mercer said.
JDHS opened the weekend by losing dual meets to Wasilla on Thursday and to Chugiak and Skyview on Friday.
On Saturday, Santos provided a spark when he captured Juneau's lone individual title. He opened the weekend by going 1-3 in dual meet matches on Thursday and Friday.
"It was a bit hard and I lost a couple matches," Santos said. "I was kind of rusty."
In his first tournament since Christmas break, Santos defeated Lathrop's Bobby Hicks 10-8 to win the title. Down by three points late, the senior earned a take down and a near fall with about 30 seconds left. The five-point moved vaulted Santos to a gold medal.
With only one more weekend left before the Region V Tournament at the end of January, Santos knows he still has work to do to defend his Southeast title.
"I really need to get my cardio back up," Santos said. "I'm going to focus on that."
Freshman Bryce Saviers took seventh place at the Dimond Tournament. Saviers finished with a 3-1 record in the 112-pound division.
Both of Juneau-Douglas' competitors in the 171-pound weight division finished in the top eight. Tyler Zimmerman took sixth place with a 2-3 record and Samson Keeney finished seventh at 2-1.
Kyle Foote (112 pounds), Steven Dyer (135), Garret Cox (152), Jake Mason (189) and Justin Behrends (215) all won matches on Saturday.
Juneau-Douglas' weekend started with a 58-15 loss to Alaska powerhouse Wasilla.
Foote, Zimmerman and Mason each won their bouts.
On Friday, JDHS dropped dual meets to Skyview and Chugiak.
Juneau-Douglas lost to Skyview 46-24. Cox, Saviers and Santos each won via pinfall.
In the Crimson Bears' 58-4 loss to Chugiak, Saviers picked up his team's lone win with a major decision victory over Stephen Kichura.
JDHS travels to Ketchikan on Jan. 20-21 for a pair of Southeast Conference dual meets before hosting the Region V Tournament at the end of the month.
Tim Nichols, sports editor, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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