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The Juneau-Douglas High School wrestling team brought a dozen wrestlers to the season-opening Mount Edgecumbe Invitational this weekend, and nine have already felt the roar of a finals crowd.
The Crimson Bears made the most of their Saturday-night opportunities, taking home a pair of individual titles and three runner-up finishes against most of the Southeast teams they will face this season.
"This was our first opportunity to go against these Southeast schools and I'd say we did tremendously well," head coach Bob Cox said. "We've still got some conditioning issues, though. It doesn't matter how good you are or how much you know if you don't have the gas to pull it off."
Senior Bryce Saviers, at 125 pounds, and freshman Thomas Riley, at 112, picked up JDHS' two titles in their respective divisions.
Saviers would have faced Ketchikan's Nick Martin, thought of by many as one of the state's best, but Martin didn't attend the meet. Instead, Saviers faced off against Ketchikan's Ross Sandford who moved up a weight class to wrestle in Martin's place. Saviers won the first match 10-8, before dominating the action in the second match wire-to-wire.
"It's hard for a lot of kids to wrestle all six minutes at this stage of the season, but Bryce did and it showed," Cox said. "We have very high hopes for him to do well in the state this year, not just our region."
Riley was joined by fellow freshman Wilson Suzuki, at 103 pounds, in the finals. Suzuki placed third in his division after a close title match.
"Those two really stepped up to get into the finals," Cox said. "It's amazing for them to get that far in their first meet of their first year going against high school competition."
Sophomore heavyweight Cole Bossio also took home second-place honors after falling to Sitka's Zhenya Kisarauskas for a second time on the weekend in the finals. Bossio dropped both matches by just a single point, 3-2 and then 2-1.
"Both of those matches could have gone either way," Cox said. "(Kisarauskas) is a great big, tall kid and he dominated Cole pretty good last year. He's real close this year, though. With a little more conditioning and practice - I think we'll see Cole pick up a win against him this season."
Ben Roemling was the final Crimson Bear to make the finals, taking second place in the 140-pound division.
Kurt Barry, at 171, and Dufer Libraneo, at 119, both placed third in the finals for JDHS. Sam Cordero and Cameron Fronimos took fourth at 152 and 160 pounds, respectively.
The Bears will resume their season this weekend at the Ketchikan Invitational.