The Juneau-Douglas High School wrestling team will finally get a chance to see what it looks like at full strength when it hosts the Halloween Bash tonight and Saturday at the JDHS main gym.
The Crimson Bears added six varsity wrestlers to their roster this week after they completed their required 10 preseason practices. Many of these wrestlers have been replaced by junior varsity wrestlers in early season meets, or the weight class was left empty and Juneau had to forfeit because nobody could fill the spot.
"We've finally got a full team," said Juneau senior Brian Thatcher, who will wrestle his first meet at 171 pounds after recently completing the football season. "It'll be great to be in front of the home crowd. We want to see some action. It's going to be fun."
"It's going to be wonderful," added Juneau junior Jonathan Moore, who has been wrestling at 189. "I just wish Ketchikan was here. They beat us when we didn't have everybody and it'd be nice to let them see what we really have."
Besides Thatcher, Juneau wrestlers gaining their eligibility this weekend are Patrick Carrillo, Jerrod Harvey, Willy Dodd, Brandon Pilot and Vernon Perry. Most of them were playing football and needed a break before the wrestling season.
The tournament will feature round-robin matches starting at 5 p.m. tonight and again at 11 a.m. on Saturday, with championship finals set for 6 p.m. Saturday. Juneau coach Bob Mahon said the meet will feature teams from Juneau, Sitka, Petersburg, Skagway, Hoonah, Mount Edgecumbe and Pelican. The tournament is one of only two home meets for Juneau this season.
Mahon said the tournament will have individual awards for the top three wrestlers in each weight class. Then, team points will be scored from those wrestlers reaching the finals. He said the tournament wasn't going to have as deep a field as its current seven teams. But Petersburg and Sitka were both late additions to the field.
"Petersburg wanted to come up here for our Thanksgiving tournament, but it's hard for teams to travel then," Mahon said. "So they decided to come to this tournament instead."
The Juneau wrestlers said they hope they get a big crowd to cheer them on this weekend.
"I just hope we can get some support," said Moore, who transferred to Juneau from Ketchikan after his freshman year. "When I was in Ketchikan we'd fill the gym for a tournament like this. But here it seems like we barely fill a quarter of the bleachers."
"But the fans that show up, they're great," Thatcher said. "They're very supportive."
Some of the wrestlers to watch this weekend include two of Juneau's three Anthony Manacio brothers. Anthony Manacio III is the top-ranked wrestler in the state's poll this week at 125 pounds, while his younger brother Anthony Manacio IV is the top-ranked wrestler at 112 pounds. Other ranked Juneau wrestlers are Willy Dodd (13th at 119 pounds), Jestin Hulegaard (fifth at 130), Isaac Cadiente (ninth at 135, but injured and probably out for the season), Jonathan Moore (fourth at 189) and Jerrod Harvey (fourth at 215). The poll is on the Scoreboard on Page 10.
Other ranked wrestlers expected to compete this weekend include Richie Deaver of Petersburg (third at 119), Jamie McCrehin of Sitka (sixth at 125), Kevin Tynes of Petersburg (ninth at 125), Justin Carlson of Sitka (11th at 125), David Gauthier of Sitka (fourth at 130), Brian Botts of Hoonah (second at 135), Ben Botts of Hoonah (fifth at 140), Mike Nielson of Petersburg (third at 145), Corey Gould of Sitka (fourth at 145), Joey Boggs of Petersburg (fourth at 152), Darren LaDuke of Sitka (third at 171), Jeff Hall of Petersburg (fifth at 215) and Reme Privett of Petersburg (ninth at 275).
For some of the smaller school wrestlers, this weekend will be a good showcase for their skills. A couple of the older Hoonah wrestlers came to Juneau Thursday for the college fair at the high school, then worked out with the Crimson Bears in the afternoon.
"It's more people to wrestle," Hoonah senior James Refuerzo said. "We'll bring about 13 wrestlers here. We're really looking forward to the tournament."