The numbers didn't add up for a repeat Region V wrestling championship for Juneau-Douglas High School.
Sitka used its superior depth to wrestle away the championships. The Wolves won nine individual championships and amassed 180 points to take the title. The Crimson Bears finished second at 155 points while Ketchikan took third with 65 points.
"From the beginning of the year we talked about it," Sitka coach John Hedden said of the team title. "It's been a tough year for everybody here. We started with 34 wrestlers and ended with 18. ... We thought if everything went as it was supposed to we'd win it, and it pretty much did.
"It's a credit to these kids for surviving the season."
While JDHS failed to defend its state title, the team performed extremely well.
The Crimson Bears dressed 13 wrestlers for the regional tournament and all but one of them qualified for next weekend's Alaska State Wrestling Championships at Chugiak High School in Eagle River. To qualify for the state tournament, a wrestler must finish in the top two in a particular weight class.
JDHS captured five individual titles and will send multiple wrestlers in two weight classes.
"They've been working so hard all season and they deserve this trip," Bears coach Kris Mercer said. "They all wrestled really tough today. We didn't have a lot of wrestlers but we did have some solid, attacking wrestling."
One of the most exciting finals of the tournament came in the 112-pound weight class.
Juneau-Douglas' Buddy Howard, ranked fifth statewide at 112 pounds, used some late heroics to capture the region title over Ketchikan's Nick Martin.
Down two points with seven seconds left, Howard executed a double-leg takedown to force overtime.
Howard then captured the match when the referee penalized Martin for stalling. "It was kind of a desperation thing," Howard said of his double-leg takedown. "I was trying to help bring home a team title."
In an all JDHS final at 152-pounds, Joardan Savland topped junior captain Garret Cox 6-0.
Savland earned a quick takedown in the first period and tacked on four more points in the third period to take the title.
Juneau-Douglas' Dante Santos won the 119-pound title by pinning Sitka's David Blore at 2 minutes, 59 seconds.
At 171-pounds, top-seeded Crimson Bear Tyler Zimmerman defeated teammate Samson Keeney 5-2 in a terrific display of attacking and counterattacking.
Justin Behrends captured the 215-pound title for Juneau by overwhelming Ketchikan's Dustin Simpson in 36 seconds.
Behrends scored a quick takedown in the match's opening seconds and pinned Simpson's shoulders moments later.
"Behrends is a strong kid," Mercer said. "You get him down to 215 pounds and he's just impressive."
At 189 pounds, Sitka's Jake LaDuke earned a measure of vengeance for last weekend's loss to Juneau-Douglas' Jake Mason.
LaDuke used his strong upper body to score two takedowns and parry any of Mason's shots.
Due to the relatively small roster size of each of the three squads, some wrestlers automatically qualified for state without having to break a sweat.
For the rest, however, a win in Saturday morning's preliminary session proved the only way to go to state.
JDHS freshman Kurt Barry punched his ticket with a hard-fought 10-4 victory over Ryder Torgeson of Sitka.
Bryce Saviers and Steven Dyer also won in the preliminary round and advanced to the finals.
Tim Nichols, sports editor, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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