A canceled flight Thursday nixed both of its scheduled duals, but the Juneau-Douglas High School wrestling team finally made its way to Soldotna last night to take part in the 10-team Skyview Invitational today and Saturday.
This weekend's tournament will be the Crimson Bears' first look at many of the state's best wrestlers from Anchorage and other out-of-region schools. With the state championships just a month away, this meet may also be the wrestlers' only chance to move up in the pecking order at the top of their respective weight classes.
"This is one of those tournaments we really needed to hit," head coach Bob Cox said. "We really wanted to get to some earlier ones (in Anchorage), but now this is our best chance to get some credibility for seeding at state."
Credibility was plentiful for the Crimson Bears during their torrid start to the season. A lackluster performance in last weekend's dual against Petersburg raised some doubts, though, as JDHS picked up just a single win from Bryce Saviers at 125 pounds.
"We had won a lot of those matches earlier in the year. They were close but we won them," Cox said. "Our guys were just flat. Hopefully we can pick it up and wrestle with a little more intensity this week."
The team will be without freshman standout Wilson Suzuki at the 103-pound level, as he was unable to travel due to illness. They will also be trying out a fresh face at heavyweight, as sophomore Eric Ashenfelter has now picked up the necessary number of practices after the football season ended. The squad will travel 11 grapplers in all.
Their opponents this weekend will come from Homer, Kenai, Soldotna, Skyview, Ketchikan, East Anchorage, West Anchorage, Chugiak and Colony.
JDHS will host its annual Pilot Tournament next weekend.