The Juneau-Douglas High School wrestling team hopes its recent success will follow the team to the Ketchikan Invitational beginning today and continuing through Saturday.
Last weekend, the Crimson Bears took second place behind Nikiski at the Alaska Christian Schools Invitational, the largest fall season wrestling tournament in Alaska, without a having a single wrestler win an individual title.
But the Crimson Bears did place nine wrestlers in the top six, led by seniors Anthony Manacio IV and Jerrod Harvey. Manacio IV placed second at 112 pounds, losing to Cody Phipps of Skyview, 16-5 in their championship match. Harvey had to forfeit his 275-pound championship match against Angelo Luna of Nikiski due to a back injury.
Junior Isaac Cadiente and senior Jonathan Moore placed third at 140 and 189 pounds, respectively.
Although Juneau was the top finisher among Southeast schools at the ACS tourney, Sitka had a strong showing by placing eighth as a team. Ketchikan did not compete at the ACS tourney, but the prior week at the Nikiski Invitational, the Kings placed second to Nikiski in a dual meet format.
"Last year we only had eight in the top six at the state meet," Juneau-Douglas head wrestling coach Bob Mahon said. "We had some younger kids, but they did good."
However, Juneau will get a chance to redeem itself against top-ranked Nikiski at Ketchikan this weekend. The Bulldogs and Kotzebue are making the trip south, as well as every school from Southeast.
"This weekend will be good for us," Mahon said. "With Nikiski coming down, it will give some of our wrestlers a chance to redeem themselves. Ketchikan always has a good tournament and usually brings a few schools up from down south too."
In all, 24 Crimson Bear wrestlers will travel to Ketchikan, giving Mahon the first chance to see his entire squad wrestle in a big tournament atmosphere. Juneau sent just 12 wrestlers to the ACS tournament and the prior meets had been small with little competition.
"We're going to be able to see how we do together as a complete team," Mahon said. "It's going to be a lot like regions for us. All the schools who will be at Ketchikan will be at regions."
The Crimson Bears did take a hit by losing one of their top wrestlers for the season. Junior Patrick Carillo, who was the state's preseason favorite at 119 pounds, has been declared ineligible to compete.
"He's basically giving up,' Mahon said. "It's one of those things that happens and we're not the only ones it happens to. It's going to hurt us. He would have given us 40 points at the state meet."
Carillo's absence could open a spot in the lineup for senior Amanda Kraft who is vying to become the first female wrestler from the Southeast to qualify for state.
"She's got a shot," Mahon said. "We'll know after the next two meets if she will be on the region team. If she makes it on the region team, she should qualify for state."
After the Ketchikan Invitational, Juneau takes a week off from competition before hosting the Juneau-Douglas Wrestling Pilot Invitational from Nov. 30 to Dec. 1 at the high school main gymnasium.
The Pilot Invitational, named after Brandon Pilot who was killed in an automobile accident during last year's wrestling season, is the last regular-season tournament before the Region V meet in Sitka on Dec. 7-8. It is also Juneau's only home meet of the year.
Jeff Kasper can be reached at email@example.com.