The Juneau-Douglas High School wrestling team won the Region V wrestling title last season. But the Crimson Bears weren't really sure if they should be listed as the defending champions as they prepared to host this weekend's Region V-Class 4A tournament.
Last year, the Class 4A schools competed against the smaller Class 2A and Class 3A teams during the fall wrestling season, so there were a lot more teams involved in the tournament. This year, the state has returned to the way it was three years ago, when the Class 4A teams had a separate season from the smaller schools.
The Region V-Class 4A tournament features just three teams - Sitka, Ketchikan and host Juneau. The meet starts at 10 a.m. on Saturday, with championship semifinals at noon, consolation finals at 5 p.m. and the championship finals at 7 p.m.
"It's almost like we didn't win, it's such a different region," said Juneau senior 135-pounder David Liliedahl, who is hoping to end a streak of three straight third-place finishes in the region tournament. "With the smaller region, we pretty much know everyone we're wrestling."
The Crimson Bears will have a small squad at the region tournament this weekend, with only 14 or 15 wrestlers filling 28 bracket spots available to the team after Juneau lost a few people to injuries and grades. Sitka and Ketchikan both will have larger squads, but the Crimson Bears think they still have a chance to repeat as region champions.
"All the teams are bringing a lot of kids, Sitka and Ketchikan, but we have 15 kids and they're all good kids," said Juneau senior 145-pounder Isaac Cadiente, who is the state's top-ranked wrestler at that weight class, just ahead of No. 2 Matt Haseltine of Ketchikan. "There should be a couple of Juneau-Juneau finals. Everyone should be top-three, and we'll probably have at least a dozen reach state."
"We'll give it our best shot, we'll wrestle hard," Juneau coach Bob Mahon said. "I don't know if we have the numbers (to win the region title), but we could have all placing at state."
Each team is allotted two bracket spots in each of the 14 weight classes this weekend, which means the full brackets will feature six wrestlers. Only the two wrestlers who make the championship finals will advance to next weekend's Class 4A state tournament, which takes place Feb. 7-8 in Ketchikan. Lose in the championship semifinals, and you're out. There will be no wrestle-backs on Saturday, where the third-place finisher can challenge the runner-up for the region's second berth at state if they didn't wrestle earlier in the tournament.
"It's very simple, we've got to go out there and wrestle as hard as we can," said Juneau senior 189-pounder Robert Vicario, who is ranked No. 2 in the state at that weight class. "You've got to give it all you've got, especially for the seniors after four years."
The Region V-4A tournament is one of four regionals taking place this weekend, but the Southeast tournament qualifies the fewest wrestlers for the state meet. The Region III tournament (Mat-Su valleys, Kenai Peninsula and Kodiak) sends six wrestlers to state from each weight class, the Region IV tourney (Anchorage) qualifies five and the Region VI tournament (Fairbanks) sends three wrestlers to the state tournament.
Having just two wrestlers qualify from Southeast was a point of consternation for the Juneau wrestlers, especially since Fairbanks sends three wrestlers with the same number of schools. They also felt the Anchorage region wasn't as strong as it's been in the past.
"It's pretty stupid for the Anchorage teams to send their top five, since they're not as deep," Cadiente said. "It's going to be a stretch for them to send five. I think our best three wrestlers are as strong as theirs."
In this week's team rankings posted on the AlaskaWrestling.com Web site, Juneau is ranked fifth in the state and Ketchikan is sixth. Two Region III teams lead the poll - No. 1 Wasilla and No. 2 Skyview - followed by two Fairbanks schools - No. 3 West Valley and No. 4 Lathrop. The top Anchorage team is Service at No. 7.
In the most recent individual rankings on the AlaskaWrestling.com Web site (posted Jan. 15), four of the top six 103-pounders in Alaska are from Southeast - No. 2 Cody Wolf of Juneau, No. 4 David Mann of Ketchikan, No. 5 Jim Jurczak of Sitka and No. 6 Gerry Carrillo of Juneau. Unless a couple of these wrestlers slide up a weight class to 112 - where Juneau's Sungie Musarra is ranked No. 3 - two of the Southeast 103-pounders won't qualify for the state tournament.
Other ranked Southeast wrestlers include Juneau's Dennis Hall (No. 8) and Sitka's George Howard (No. 9) at 119 pounds; Ketchikan's Jes Boyd (No. 4) at 125; Liliedahl, who shows up 10th at 130 and fifth at 140 even though he'll wrestle at 135; Sitka's Justin Carlson (No. 3) at 135; Cadiente (No. 1) and Haseltine (No. 2) at 145; Sitka's Dalton Bergman (No. 8) at 152; Ketchikan's Zack Thompson (No. 3) at 171; Vicario (No. 2) and Juneau's Jake Ritter (No. 6) at 189; Ketchikan's Adam Minshall (No. 3) at 215; and the trio of Ketchikan's Jon Hamilton (No. 3), Sitka's Mike Loucks (No. 6) and Ketchikan's Sven Westergard (No. 8) at heavyweight. The complete state rankings list is on the Scoreboard on Page B2.
Charles Bingham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Region V wrestling
Class 4A championship featuring Juneau, Sitka and Ketchikan
When: Saturday, matches begin at 10 a.m.; finals start at 7 p.m.
Where: Juneau-Douglas High School main gymnasium
Cost: Tournament passes cost $8 for adults, $5 for students
State Wrestling Rankings
Here are the state's top wrestlers in each weight class for the Class 4A season as ranked by the Web site, http://www.alaskawrestling.com, which is run by Palmer's Eric Wade. The rankings are based on head-to-head results and consultation with state coaches. If you know of wrestlers who should be included on these lists or of weight changes, please send the information to AlaskaWrestling.com. Also, please pass along any spelling corrections. These team rankings were released on Jan. 24 and the individual rankings are from Jan. 15. Team rankings are based on a 10-7-5-3-1 point scale.
CLASS 4A RANKINGS
Teams - 1. Wasilla (poll votes not available); 2. Skyview; 3. West Valley; 4. Lathrop; 5. Juneau-Douglas; 6. Ketchikan; 7. Service; 8. Soldotna; 9. Bartlett; 10. Homer.
103 pounds - 1. Camron Hagen, Homer; 2. Cody Wolf, Juneau-Douglas; 3. Bo Kittley, Wasilla; 4. David Mann, Ketchikan; 5. Jim Jurczak, Sitka; 6. Gerry Carrillo, Juneau-Douglas; 7. Steve Guana, Kodiak; 8. Matthew Blakeslee, Service; 9. Elliott Gauthier, Skyview; 10. Scotty Gordon, Dimond.
112 - 1. Eli Hutchison, Skyview; 2. Dustin Killian, Colony; 3. Sungie Musarra, Juneau-Douglas; 4. Louden Grenier, Homer; 5. Jared Sundberg, Kodiak; 6. Josh Herr, Chugiak; 7. Dennis Achman, Lathrop.
119 - 1. Sean Costello, Kodiak; 2. Ed Bailey, Chugiak; 3. Kaylen Baxter, West Valley; 4. Shane Manuel, Bartlett; 5. Dustin Cline, Bartlett; 6. Clark Buffington, Skyview; 7. Louie Stephens, Dimond; 8. Dennis Hall, Juneau-Douglas; 9. George Howard, Sitka; 10. Zack Deboard, Lathrop.
125 - 1. Darin Pestrikoff, Dimond; 2. Jeff Bailey, Lathrop; 3. Dallas Seavey, Skyview; 4. Jes Boyd, Ketchikan; 5. Cliffton Ivanoff, Kodiak; 6. Travis Schultz, Chugiak; 7. Chris Odom, Wasilla; 8. Jacob Madrid, Kenai; 9. Tony Schnese, Service.
130 - 1. Monte Garroutte, Homer; 2. David Weise, West Valley; 3. James Gates, Lathrop; 4. Brandy Goracke, Soldotna; 5. Cody Phipps, Skyview; 6. Joe Harris, Lathrop; 7. Zach Tomco, Palmer; 8. Jason Cline, Bartlett; 9. Brian Davis-Lucero, Dimond; 10. David Liliedahl, Juneau-Douglas; 11. Mike Trudeau, Wasilla.
135 - 1. Stan Brown, Chugiak; 2. Matt McDonough, West Valley; 3. Justin Carlson, Sitka; 4. Maston Thompson, Wasilla; 5. Shawn Olivera, Colony; 6. Zack Aragon, Skyview; 7. Brandon Stoner, Lathrop; 8. David Leach, Skyview; 9. Jordan Duboisson, Service; 10. Brandon Simpson, West Valley.
140 - 1. Parke McDowell, Service; 2. Jonah Stewart, Palmer; 3. Trevor Pempek, Palmer; 4. Billy Duffield, West Valley; 5. David Liliedahl, Juneau-Douglas; 6. Chris Bancroft, Bartlett; 7. Brandon Cleveland, Skyview; 8. Jake Savely, Skyview.
145 - 1. Isaac Cadiente, Juneau-Douglas; 2. Matt Haseltine, Ketchikan; 3. Mike Osborne, Lathrop; 4. Jordan Cubbedge, Kodiak; 5. Dan Bailey, Chugiak; 6. Jake Savely, Skyview; 7. Ben Breakfield, Soldotna; 8. Wade Wilson, Service; 9. Mike Miller, Wasilla.
152 - 1. Miles Dinstel, West Valley; 2. Corey Crane Wasilla; 3. Jared Solberg, West Anchorage; 4. Brent Jensen, East Anchorage; 5. Sean Ritchie, North Pole; 6. Jeff Herron, Bartlett; 7. Curtis Walther, Dimond; 8. Dalton Bergman, Sitka; 9. T.J. Stone, Soldotna.
160 - 1. Abe Salmon, Wasilla; 2. Jeremy Young, North Pole; 3. Colton Goracke, Soldotna; 4. Johnny Howarth, Soldotna; 5. Steven Willburn, Chugiak; 6. Sam Denison, Skyview.
171 - 1. Ryan Ersland, Service; 2. Mike Croffut, Dimond; 3. Zack Thompson, Ketchikan; 4. Kyle Vanderwyst, Lathrop; 5. Nathan Moore, West Valley; 6. Jake Wade, Wasilla; 7. Justin Rainwater, Skyview; 8. Zach Rohr, Skyview; 9. Josiah Bush, North Pole.
189 - 1. Jed Wade, Wasilla; 2. Robert Vicario, Juneau-Douglas; 3. Jim Pollack, Homer; 4. Ward Kruse, Service; 5. Keenan Chirhart, Dimond; 6. Jake Ritter, Juneau-Douglas; 7. Tom Doyle, Lathrop; 8. Justin Ballek, North Pole; 9. Chris Walsh, Colony.
215 - 1. Jay Fulk, West Valley; 2. Shawn Weigle, Soldotna; 3. Adam Minshall, Ketchikan; 4. Greg Marlow, Bartlett; 5. Dennis Bryant, Kodiak; 6. John Olsen, Wasilla; 7. Gabe Nicholson, Lathrop.
275 - 1. Shane Tufford, West Valley; 2. Angelo Luna, East Anchorage; 3. Jon Hamilton, Ketchikan; 4. Josh Brantley, Soldotna; 5. Jeramy Meisler, Wasilla; 6. Mike Loucks, Sitka; 7. Rod Collins, North Pole; 8. Sven Westergard, Ketchikan; 9. Ben Brewster, Service.