The Juneau-Douglas High School wrestling team got a good look at its Southeast Conference rivals last weekend at the Sitka Invitational.
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The Crimson Bears won the event with six individual champions and 183 points.
"I wanted to see what Sitka and Ketchikan have," JDHS coach Kris Mercer said. "I wanted to see where they were at in terms of our region and what else I need to do to get more kids more competition."
The season remains at its infancy stages as Mercer continues to look to get his wrestlers matches.
One Crimson Bears grappler who appears ready to go is 125-pound Dante Santos. The senior, a state finalist at 119 pounds last season, defeated Sitka's Vince Licari 14-4 for first place Saturday. He also recorded a pinfall and a technical fall during Saturday's preliminary rounds.
"We had some massive improvements with Santos," Mercer said. "He's happy and having fun."
Bobby Hunt (103 pounds), Steven Dyer (152), Joardan Savland (160), Tyler Zimmerman (189) and Jake Mason (215) all won their individual weight classes in Sitka.
Savland picked up three first period pins before upending Klawock's Chris Stockton 10-4 in the final.
"What a strong kid and smart kid," Mercer said of Savland. "He was just crushing cradles and killing period."
Juneau-Douglas showed its depth in the heavier weights as it finished first, third and fourth at 189 pounds. Zimmerman pinned Mt. Edgecumbe's Nick Wasierski in 4:45 while teammate Samson Keeney defeated Ramiro Lamas for third place.
While the team championship is always nice, Juneau's main mission for Saturday's was to stoke the wrestlers' competitive fires and get them ready for the season.
The senior leaders performed well but a number of less-experienced grapplers gained valuable mat time at Sitka.
Sophomore lightweight Drew Carey took second at 135 pounds while a number of freshmen found out what high school wrestling will be like.
"The freshman for this weekend, the realized they don't have to get beat," Mercer said. "They can lose, but they can still learn something and get better. They're losing, but I'm enjoying what I'm seeing."
Juneau-Douglas hosts its annual Brandon Pilot Invitational this weekend and a dual meets with Colony and Southeast Conference competition on Thursday starting at 6 p.m.
Two of the Crimson Bears standout wrestlers from a season ago - 145 pounder Matt Barry and 119-pound Bryce Saviers - are scheduled to make their season debuts this weekend.
Tim Nichols, sports editor, can be reached at email@example.com.
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