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It wasn't until after this weekend's last dual meet ended that the realization hit the six seniors on the Juneau-Douglas High School wrestling team.
The Crimson Bears swept the Sitka Wolves and the Ketchikan Kings in a series of dual meets Friday and Saturday to close out the regular season, closing out the home careers for seniors Sungie Musarra (112 pounds), Jordan Saceda (119), John Kuterbach (171), Luis Highley (189), Jake Ritter (215) and Alika Bradley (275).
"It's really weird to think this will be the last time wrestling at home," Kuterbach said.
"It was good," Ritter added. "It brought back a lot of memories of these guys, Kuterbach since the fifth grade and Sungie since middle school. We've spent hours and hours in the gym together. We get on each other's nerves like brothers."
The Crimson Bears beat Sitka 47-21 on Friday and 44-30 on Saturday, and took two meets from Ketchikan 46-24 and 40-24 on Saturday. On Saturday, Ketchikan beat Sitka 37-30 in the only other dual meet held this weekend. Ketchikan was a late arrival on Friday night due to finals week and travel arrangements, so the Kings only wrestled Sitka once.
"I thought the team did good," Bradley said. "We wanted to go out with a bang. We wanted to be remembered."
Even though the seniors said they were going to miss each other, they also said they'd miss their opponents. The three Southeast teams face each other so many times over the course of a season, they've become de facto teammates when Southeast teams travel to the same tournaments up north.
"They're like friends now," Saceda said. "Going face-to-face, it's hard to get motivated. I didn't know a lot of these guys two years ago."
"This weekend's significance was that it was the last weekend in town," Musarra said. "Again, it's all about the next two weeks. We're just about peaking now. We did well as a team."
While most of the wrestlers were starting to drift back toward their natural weight classes, there were several who bounced up or down a spot to get a better matchup in preparation for this Friday's Southeast Conference-Class 4A championships in Sitka. The top two finishers in each weight class at the SE meet will advance to the Class 4A state tournament Feb. 4-5 at Chugiak High School.
"There was lots of good wrestling this weekend," Juneau coach Kris Mercer said. "But it's not about this weekend, it's about the next two weekends."
"I had fun," Highley said. "Now I want to go to Sitka."
In Friday's victory over Sitka, Juneau picked up pins from Saceda (125 pounds), Garret Cox (145) and Phillip Moser (160), while Musarra won by technical fall (112), and the duo of Steven Dyer (135) and Matt Barry (140) won decisions. Juneau also picked up three forfeit victories.
But some of best wrestling of the meet took place in matches won by Sitka wrestlers.
Tyler Holmlund, who had been ranked as high as No. 2 in the state at heavyweight, could only muster a third-period escape point to edge Bradley 1-0. Then, Jim Jurczak (ranked fifth in the state at 119 pounds) upset Gerry Carrillo (top-ranked at 112) with a 4-0 decision at 119 pounds and George Wathen (ranked fourth at 130) won a 4-1 decision over Cody Wolf (ranked fifth at 125) at 130.
"I think we got some guys' attention," Mercer said. "I think we got Gerry's and Cody's attention."
In Saturday's morning meet between Ketchikan and Sitka, the Kings picked up pins from James Gillian (135), Karl Leitz (145) and Trevor Norton (171), two forfeit victories, an 11-3 major decision by top-ranked heavyweight Jon Hamilton over Holmlund and a 7-5 overtime decision by second-ranked 160-pounder Iain Brown over Dylan Bergman (ranked fourth at 152).
In Saturday's first dual meet between Juneau and Ketchikan, the Crimson Bears picked up pins from Barry, Cox, Ritter, Dante Santos and Wolf. They also got a major decision from Kuterbach and two forfeit victories.
In Juneau's meet with Sitka on Saturday, the Crimson Bears picked up pins from Cox, Moser, Kuterbach and Musarra, while Saceda and Barry won by major decisions and Juneau picked up two forfeits.
Saceda said he was happy for his 15-5 major decision over Jurczak on Saturday, since Jurczak beat him in November's Brandon Pilot Invitational in Juneau, the last time the two wrestlers met. Saceda and Jurczak currently are ranked fourth and fifth, respectively, in the state at 119 pounds. But until Saceda did well at the West Valley Invitational earlier this month, Jurczak had been ranked ahead of him.
"I've been waiting forever to wrestle Jurczak, especially after the Pilot tournament," said Saceda, who had Jurczak on his back in a near-fall position early in the match and never trailed. "I wanted that. My revenge is not complete yet. I knew I was going to get him this time."
In the weekend finale against Ketchikan, Juneau picked up pins from Barry, Cox, Musarra and Saceda, while Kuterbach won by a major decision and Juneau picked up two forfeits. In a highlight for Ketchikan, two-time defending 275-pound state champion Hamilton won a 3-0 decision over Ritter, who is ranked fourth at 215. The two wrestled to a 5-4 decision for Hamilton last weekend in Ketchikan.
"We just getting decent matches in," said Ritter, who was giving up about 55-60 pounds to Hamilton. "I've got one of the guys I think is one of the best wrestlers to come out of this state in my weight class (Bobby Dunbar of Bartlett, who is ranked third nationally by Intermat), and I've got to prove myself over the next two weeks."
"It's all about next week and the week after that, but we can't get ahead of ourselves so we have to focus on next week and regions," Kuterbach said. "I didn't get to wrestle Ryan Hendricks (of Ketchikan), but I got to wrestle just about everyone else in my weight class for regions. I'm feeling really good and confident about how we can do in Sitka."
Meet results can be found on the Scoreboard on Page B2.
Charles Bingham can be reached at email@example.com.
Results from a series of high school wrestling dual meets held Friday and Saturday between the Juneau-Douglas Crimson Bears, Sitka Wolves and Ketchikan Kings at the JDHS main gym. Due to Ketchikans late arrival on Friday night, only one dual meet between Sitka and Ketchikan took place. Several dozen exhibition matches also took place, but results werent available for all of them so no results will be listed.
Crimson Bears 47, Wolves 21
275 pounds Tyler Holmlund (S) dec. Alika Bradley, 1-0. 103 Michael Abt (S), win by forfeit. 112 Sungie Musarra (J) tech. fall Vince Licari, 18-1 (match ran full time). 119 Jim Jurczak (S) dec. Gerry Carrillo, 4-0. 125 Jordan Saceda (J) pin. Lucas Chambers, 3:33. 130 George Wathen (S) dec. Cody Wolf, 4-1. 135 Steven Dyer (J) dec. Torin Lehman, 7-5. 140 Matt Barry (J) dec. Kamden Johnson, 8-3. 145 Garret Cox (J) pin. Jack Joseph, 3:11. 152 Dylan Bergman (S) dec. Dylan Mores, 8-1. 160 Phillip Moser (J) pin. Kevin Skannes, 0:34. 171 John Kuterbach (J), win by forfeit. 189 Jake Mason (J), win by forfeit. 215 Jake Ritter (J), win by forfeit.
Kings 37, Wolves 30
130 pounds George Wathen (S), win by forfeit. 135 James Gillian (K) pin. Torin Lehman, 0:43. 140 Kamden Johnson (S) dec. Jeremy Minshall, 16-14. 145 Karl Leitz (K) pin. Jack Joseph, 2:58. 152 Double forfeit. 160 Iain Brown (K) dec. Dylan Bergman, 7-5, OT. 171 Trevor Norton (K) pin. Finn Straley, 5:17. 189 Ryan Hendricks (K), win by forfeit. 215 Blaine Heaton (K), win by forfeit. 275 Jon Hamilton (K) maj. dec. Tyler Holmlund, 11-3. 103 Michael Abt (S) dec. Kyle Foote, 6-1. 112 Vince Licari (S) pin. Anthony Chavarria, 0:52. 119 Jim Jurczak (S), win by forfeit. 125 Lucas Chambers (S) pin. Andrew Goodwin, 0:59.
Crimson Bears 46, Kings 24
130 pounds Double forfeit. 135 James Gillian (K) pin. Steven Dyer, 1:21. 140 Matt Barry (J) pin. Jeremy Minshall, 3:44. 145 Garret Cox (J) pin. Karl Leitz, 1:20. 152 Dylan Mores (J), win by forfeit. 160 Iain Brown (K) dec. Phillip Moser, 5-0. 171 John Kuterbach (J) maj. dec. Trevor Norton, 12-3. 189 Ryan Hendricks (K) dec. Jake Mason, 10-4. 215 Blaine Heaton (K) pin. Kevin Wilkins, 0:58. 275 Jake Ritter (J) pin. Bryce Timm, 2:28. 103 Kyle Foote (K), win by forfeit. 112 Dante Santos (J) pin. Anthony Chavarria, 3:02. 119 Gerry Carrillo (J), win by forfeit. 125 Cody Wolf (J) pin. Andrew Goodwin, 0:47.
Crimson Bears 44, Wolves 30
130 pounds George Wathen (S) pin. Steven Dyer, 1:09. 135 Torin Lehman (S), win by forfeit. 140 Matt Barry (J) maj. dec. Kamden Johnson, 17-6. 145 Garret Cox (J) pin. Jack Joseph, 1:14. 152 Dylan Bergman (S) pin. Dylan Mores, 5:19. 160 Phillip Moser (J) pin. Kevin Skannes, 0:29. 171 John Kuterbach (J) pin. Finn Straley, 1:20. 189 Jake Moser (J), win by forfeit. 215 Kevin Wilkens (J), win by forfeit. 275 Tyler Holmlund (S) dec. Alika Bradley, 3-0. 103 Michael Abt (S), win by forfeit. 112 Sungie Musarra (J) pin. Vince Licari, 1:07. 119 Jordan Saceda (J) maj. dec. Jim Jurczak, 15-5. 125 Lucas Chambers (S) dec. Cody Wolf, 7-6.
Crimson Bears 40, Kings 24
130 pounds Double forfeit. 135 James Gillian (K) dec. Steven Dyer, 6-2. 140 Matt Barry (J) pin. Karl Leitz, 1:44. 145 Garret Cox (J) pin. Jeremy Minshall, 0:24. 152 Dylan Mores (J), win by forfeit. 160 Iain Brown (K) dec. Phillip Moser, 11-4. 171 John Kuterbach (J) maj. dec. Trevor Norton, 13-2. 189 Ryan Hendricks (K) dec. Jake Mason, 6-5. 215 Blaine Heaton (K) pin. Kevin Wilkins, 1:05. 275 Jon Hamilton (K) dec. Jake Ritter, 3-0. 103 Kyle Foote (K), win by forfeit. 112 Sungie Musarra (J) pin. Anthony Chavarria, 0:47. 119 Gerry Carrillo (J), win by forfeit. 125 Jordan Saceda (J) pin. Anthony Goodwin, 0:29.