The Juneau-Douglas High School wrestling squad is in Sitka today to compete in the Sitka Invitational today and Saturday.
Almost the entire Crimson Bear squad will make the trip in what will be the first true test of the season for many of the wrestlers.
Last week, the most of the varsity wrestlers made their first appearance at the Petersburg Invitational. Juneau wrestled to a second-place finish there, while three Crimson Bears took first place in their weight classes.
Anthony Manacio IV won a major decision over teammate Vern Perry 18-9 to win the 119-pound class. Isaac Cadiente pinned Jeb Phillips of Petersburg to take first at 140 pounds and Jerrod Harvey pinned Matt Nore of Wrangell to take first at 215 pounds.
But despite just having three athletes win their respective weight classes, head coach Bob Mahon was pleased with his team's performance at Petersburg.
"I'm not disappointed. It's still early for us." Mahon said. "We've got the football players now and we're getting everyone situated. I think the team did real well. There were some real good matches."
Mahon was also impressed with the wrestlers from Petersburg, going so far as saying they are the team to beat in Southeast this year.
"Petersburg is going to be tough," Mahon said. "They're going to be the ones to beat and they're going to get better as the year goes on. We've got a lot of work to do."
This weekend, the Crimson Bears will see just about every team from Southeast for the first time this season. Ketchikan and Petersburg will join Juneau and Sitka as well as many of the smaller schools, including Wrangell, Klawock, Skagway and Mount Edgecumbe.
"It's pretty much going to be like regions," Harvey said during a workout on Thursday. "It will be a good test for us. There are things I can work harder on."
"It'll be good. It's our first real good tourney," said Cadiente, who is back in form after a shoulder injury last season. "We're looking good. If everyone wrestles well, we'll get regions. Our No. 1 goal this year is to take regions. State is the No. 2 goal."
Mahon says he his team is shaping up the way he expected it to, but still needs to do some fine tuning at some weight classes.
"We're going to be real strong up to 145 and above 171," Mahon said. "We're going to be a little weak in the middle, but I know what they are capable of doing. We need the little guys to get up to speed."
The Crimson Bears are still reeling from the loss of teammate Brandon Pilot, who lost his life in an automobile accident last November. He was ranked in the state and filled the 152-pound class for the Bears.
"Last year we missed Brandon at 152 and we still miss him there this year," Manacio said.
"It's hard to talk about," Harvey said. "Brandon used to be my drilling partner. When we need a reason to wrestle, we just look up and think of Brandon."
The Crimson Bears top female wrestler, Amanda Krafft, has her sights set on something that has not been done by a Southeast wrestler. She is trying to become the first girl to qualify for state from the Southeast.
"This is the best season I've had so far in the four years I've been wrestling," Krafft said. "When I was a freshman, I was nervous and scared. I was afraid people wouldn't respect me. Now the guys just treat me like any other wrestler."
"I hope she makes it." Mahon said. "She's got a shot at it."
Jeff Kasper can be reached at email@example.com.
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