CHUGIAK - Five minutes and 35 seconds in to the Alaska State Wrestling Championships 152-pound final Saturday, Juneau-Douglas High School senior Matt Barry led Dimond's Zach Shelley 5-3. He appeared to be en route to a state title.
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In wrestling, however, fortunes can turn in a second.
Shelley caught Barry in a headlock with 35 seconds left, took him down and earned a pair of near-fall points to win 7-5. Barry took second-place overall with the loss.
"I was going to go after him," said Barry, who was nursing a possibly broken left collarbone. "It was working for me in the beginning, and I wasn't going to stop it. With 20 seconds or so left I got caught in a bad position."
With the score knotted at 2-2 after one period, Barry scored the second period's lone take down with a big bear hug. Barry increased his lead to 5-2 with an escape midway through the third period, but then Shelley made his move.
Shelley, a two-time Class 1-2-3A state champ with Anchorage Christian, wrapped both his arms around Barry's chest. With both of Barry's arms stuck above his shoulders, Shelley threw the Bears' senior to his back for the title.
"It came and I just went with it," Shelley said. "It's great. It shows that a small-school wrestler can step up."
Shelley's win proved a tough ending to an incredible career for Barry.
Despite battling an injured elbow, Barry enjoyed his best high school season this year. He won his second Southeast Conference title and finished with a 25-3 record.
"A lot of memories," Barry said. "Just hanging out with the guys, having fun on road trips. I don't know what I'm going to do with myself now."
As a team, JDHS finished tied for fifth overall with 102 points. Colony ran away with the title with 229.5 points.
In addition to Barry's second place, JDHS boasted one third, two fourth, one fifth and one sixth.
Despite the successes, JDHS coach Kris Mercer said he was impressed with how his team handled defeat and adversity.
"The trip was worth it," Mercer said. "I couldn't be prouder of them. They wrestled tough. They held their heads high when in defeat. They're just good boys."
JDHS senior Dante Santos overcame a tough start to claim third place at 125 pounds.
Wasilla's Mike Chaffin upset the second-seeded Santos 4-3 in the first round Friday. Despite the defeat, Santos gathered the strength to win five straight bouts, culminating with an 8-6 win over East's Lipho Thirakul.
"I'm so relieved," Santos said. "It's been a long season, but it's been all worth it. It's too bad I couldn't make the finals but I had a good time."
On Friday, Santos rallied to take a lead against Chaffin late in the bout. However, the referee erased the points and restarted the match at a point where Chaffin regained a 4-3 lead.
While Chaffin went on to the finals, Santos rattled off five straight wins for third place.
"It felt like a bad dream I couldn't wake up from," Santos said of Friday's defeat. "But I still had a great time. Third place is really nice."
Mercer said, "I was real impressed with Dante. Coming off that loss and fighting back into third place took a lot of courage and heart."
Joardan Savland finished his season fourth at 160 pounds. Savland fell to South's Nathan Williamson 9-1 in the third-place match.
Savland reached the third-place match by showing off his upper-body strength. He almost exclusively used double-leg takedowns in a 12-3 major decision over Wasilla's Wesley Gagnon in the consolation semifinals. Against Williamson, however, the Wolverines' wrestler expertly parried Savland's shots to earn the win.
Another one of Juneau's standout heavyweights, Tyler Zimmerman, battled back from the loser's bracket to take fifth place at 189 pounds. The senior nipped North Pole's Chris Bressler 3-2 to win fifth.
Zimmerman dropped his first match but rallied to win three in a row to reach the medal stand.
"It feels good," Zimmerman said. "Our coaches were telling us to just do your best and have fun with it, just wrestle your hardest and whatever happens, happens. This is something that'll stick with you the rest of your life."
The Crimson Bears' Samson Keeney made the medal stand at 171 pounds with a sixth place finish. The Southeast Conference champ reached the championship semifinals.
Of the entire team, no other JDHS wrestler may have had a more daunting challenge than Jake Mason.
The senior moved up from the 215-pound division to heavyweight for the state championship. Despite giving up between 10 and 60 pounds per opponent, Mason exhibited tremendous resolve in finishing fourth.
Despite battling flu-like symptoms Friday, Mason reached the championship semifinals on Friday before being pinned by the eventual state champ, North Pole's Max Collins.
On Saturday, Mason recovered to pin West Valley's Gavin Lorens. In the third-place match, the senior gave up at least 60 pounds to Baker and fought gamely before his opponent's size and strength earned him a 5-4 decision.
"That was a hard match. The weight was just, wow," Mason said with a laugh. "I knew it was the last match of my high school career, and I just kept going and going. Lost by a point and that's a tough thing to face."
Juneau's Ian Otness (112), Bryce Saviers (119) and Steven Dyer (152) won two matches each while Bobby Hunt (103) and Ramiro Lamas (215) won once during the tournament.
Tim Nichols, sports editor, can be reached at email@example.com.
ASAA Alaska State Wrestling Championships
Friday-Saturday at Chugiak
1. Chugiak, 229.5; 2. Chugiak, 170; 3. South Anchorage, 128; 4. Wasilla, 116; 5. Juneau-Douglas, 102; 5. Dimond, 102; 7. Palmer, 93; 8. East Anchorage, 88; 9. Lathrop, 87; 10. North Pole, 85.5; 11. West Valley, 80; 12. Kodiak 77.5; 13. Soldotna, 57.5; 14. West Anchorage, 48; 15. Homer, 36; 15. Kenai Central, 36; 17. Service, 22.5; 18. Ketchikan, 21; 19. Eagle River, 19; 20. Skyview, 17.5; 21. Bartlett, 5; 22. Sitka, 0.
103-Hoffer, EA, pinned Montgomery, Col., 1:53.
112-Wilson, Col., def. Boss, Col., 4-3 2OT.
119-Bartelli, Was, def. West, Col., 4-0.
125-Eggemeyer, Kod., def. Chaffin, Was., 5-0.
130-Holdburg, Dim. Def. S. Daigle, Hom., 8-4.
135-Gravley, Col., pinned Brewster, SA, 1:29.
140-Carpenter, Was., pinned Witcher, NP, 1:03.
145-Rosefigura, WA, def. Voris, Chug., 9-4.
152-Z. Shelley, Dim, def. Barry, JDHS, 7-5.
160-McBryde, Chug., def. M. Hunsicker 10-8.
171-Amos, SA, def. Kuhm, Dim, 9-4.
189-Byers, Chug., def. Fulk, WV, 3-1 OT.
215-Baxter, WV, def. Wilson, EA, 5-4.
HWT-Collins, NP, def. Savage, Col., 5-3 OT.
103-Romero, P, def. Coisman, Col., 4-2 3OT.
112-Ricketts, Ser., def. Hutchison, Sky., 11-6.
119-Sullivan, Chu., def. L. Shelley, Dim., 4-2.
125-Santos, JDHS, def. Thirakul, EA, 8-6
130-Carlyle, P, major dec., Mills, P, 9-0.
135- Fried, Kod., def. Baldwin, Chug., 6-0.
140-Stahler, P, def. Martel, Col., 9-7.
145-L. Jutila, NP, def. Krueger, Col., 4-1.
152-Tol, Chug., def. B. Hunsicker, SA, 3-2.
160-Williamson, SA, major dec. Savland, JDHS, 9-1.
171-Benton, P, def. Cratty, Kod., 5-4.
189-Dormandy, KC, pinned Osborn, L, 4:43.
215-McBryde, Chug., pinned Fan, Col., 4:13.
HWT-Baker, SoHi, def. Mason, JDHS 5-4.
103-Moore, EA, def. Tupper, L, 7-6.
112-B. Daigle, Hom., def. Martin, Ket., 2-1.
119-Hughes, L, def. Maxwell, EA, 12-5.
125-Beauchamp, Col., def. Kichura, Chu., 3-2.
130-Hicks, L, def. Lyles, Was., 7-2.
135-Demientieff, L, major def., S. Jutila, NP, 9-1.
140-Williams, ER, pinned Eller, P, 5:00.
145-Roberts, WA, pinned Jensen, Was., 1:57.
152-Morris, SoHi, def. Pestrikoff, Dim, 3-0.
160-Gagnon, Was., def. Anthony, Kod., 4-2.
171-Japhet, SoHi, def. Keeney, JDHS, 4-3.
189-Zimmerman, JDHS, def. Bressler, NP, 3-2.
215-Phillips, WV, major dec. Strieby, SoHi, 16-7
HWT-Kim, SA, def. Lorens, WV, 7-3.
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