The Juneau-Douglas High School wrestling team earned a three-way tie for first place at the Bill Weiss Great Alaskan Challenge on Friday and Saturday in Ketchikan.
Juneau was joined by Petersburg and host Ketchikan on the winners' podium, with each team posting a 5-1 record in the dual-meet format. Sitka placed fourth with a 3-3 record and Nikiski was fifth with a 2-4 record. Kotzebue, Mount Edgecumbe/Hoonah, Prince of Wales (Craig, Hydaburg and Klawock) and Wrangell also competed, but scores were not kept for the smaller schools.
"It went really well," Crimson Bears head wrestling coach Bob Mahon said. "I'm real happy with what we had."
Juneau started off strong on Friday by cruising to an easy 69-13 victory over Mount Edgecumbe/Hoonah and a 65-5 win over a team made up of primarily of Skagway and Kake wrestlers.
Juneau recorded five pins against Mount Edgecumbe/Hoonah and seven pins against Skagway/Kake, including two pins each from senior Stephen Perry (152 pounds), juniors David Liliedahl (135) and Isaac Cadiente (140/145) and freshman Jake Ritter (171).
On Saturday, the Crimson Bears started off by beating Sitka, 40-24, with falls from Liliedahl, Ritter, senior John Moore (189) and sophomore Reid Dihle (145).
The Bears followed up by defeating an injury-plagued Nikiski, 46-25, with Ritter getting the only pin for Juneau. The Bears were runner-up to Nikiski at last week's Anchorage Christian Schools Invitational tournament, the largest regular-season tourney in the state.
"Everyone did real well," senior 130-pounder Willy Dodd said. "Nikiski was missing a couple guys with injuries."
"We match up with Nikiski pretty well," Mahon said.
The Bears started off Saturday afternoon with a close 37-30 victory over Petersburg, with Moore, Cadiente and junior Robert Vicario winning by fall.
But Juneau finally ran into a roadblock when Ketchikan got the best of the Bears with a 37-23 victory. Liliedahl recorded his third pin of the weekend, but it wasn't enough to make up for injuries to Dodd and senior Jerrod Harvey.
Dodd injured his shoulder in a previous match, forcing Juneau to forfeit 130 pounds. Harvey had to sit out Saturday afternoon matches due to a nagging back injury, requiring Mahon to shift around his upper weights by inserting junior Robert Vicario at 189 pounds and moving Moore up to 215 and senior Justin Rasmussen to 275 pounds.
The injuries were not serious and both Dodd and Harvey practiced with the team on Monday.
"I jammed it (shoulder) on the mat," Dodd said. "I heard a 'pop,' but the trainer looked at it and said everything was OK."
Even with the loss to Ketchikan, Mahon was pleased with his team's performance, singling out Liliedahl and Vicario as wrestlers who showed significant improvement.
"David (Liliedahl) wrestled pretty good," Mahon said. "He can wrestle good when he wants to. Robert Vicario looked good too. He lost a match he shouldn't have, but I put him back in later against the same guy he lost to and did great."
"I wasn't wrestling the best," Vicario said. "But it felt good to beat him. I was better than last year, but I need to work harder and get to the top guys."
"I think I could have done better," Liliedahl said. "I just think my losses could have been better. There's a lot of guys at 130 that are really good."
The Crimson Bears will see their next action at the Juneau-Douglas Pilot Wrestling Invitational on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 at the JDHS main gymnasium. It is the Bears' only home meet of the year.