The Juneau-Douglas High School wrestling team won its first four matches and two of the last three, but it wasn't enough to keep the Crimson Bears from dropping a dual-meet decision, 43-30, to the host Ketchikan Kings on Saturday at the Bill Weiss Great Alaska Challenge.
The Crimson Bears took the early lead in the dual meet. Dante Santos won a 4-1 decision at 103 pounds, and then Chad Carson (112), Jordan Saceda (119) and Dennis Hall (125) all won by pins.
But the Kings responded by sweeping the next seven weight classes - all by big decisions which count for bonus points in meet scoring. Ketchikan's Iain Brown (145) and Houston Laws (152) both won by pins and Jarred Fudge (160) won by forfeit to earn six team points each, while Jes Boyd (140) won by technical fall for five points and the duo of Rafael Ramirez-Ruiz (135) and Zach Thompson (171) both won major decisions worth four team points each.
Juneau freshman 189-pounder Tyler Zimmerman ended the Ketchikan winning streak with a 9-4 decision over Ryan Hendricks, earning three team points, and junior Jake Ritter won by a pin at 215 to make the team score 37-30 entering the final bout at heavyweight. Defending state champion Jon Hamilton of Ketchikan pinned Juneau's Alika Bradley to close out the match.
Five Juneau wrestlers earned spots in the All-Stars Session of the tournament, held Saturday night. For this session, coaches picked the best 17 matchups - with Ketchikan wrestlers given priority for the home crowd - from eight schools at the meet.
Saceda won his match by a 10-6 decision over Petersburg's Drake Lyons at 119 pounds, while Hall claimed a 12-3 major decision over Wrangell's Nick Ashton at 125. Santos lost an 8-6 overtime decision to Craig's Spencer Beckman at 103 pounds, while Garret Cox was pinned by Wrangell's Drew Eyon at 135 and Jon Kuterbach was pinned by Bart Agner of Petersburg at 189.
Among the highlights of the All-Stars session was a matchup at 160 pounds, where defending state champion Jim Smith of Petersburg, who is ranked fourth in this week's Class 1A-2A-3A state rankings on the Alaskawrestling.com Web site, won a 4-3 decision over top-ranked Jake Mork of Wrangell.
Another highlight came at heavyweight, when third-ranked Collin Martins of Petersburg, who hasn't wrestled since the seventh grade, knocked off defending state large schools champion Jon Hamilton of Ketchikan. The 7-1 decision was Hamilton's first and only loss of the season.
Most of the Southeast's top wrestlers will be in Juneau this weekend for the Brandon Pilot Invitational, a bracketed tournament that takes place Friday and Saturday at Juneau-Douglas High School's main gym.