The Juneau-Douglas and Thunder Mountain wrestling teams had one chance to perform in front of the home crowd this season, but each school found itself looking up at Mt. Edgecumbe and Ketchikan at the end of the day.
TMHS 130-pounder Thomas Riley pinned Mt. Edgecumbe's George Brown in 41 seconds after a quick takedown, and Cole Bossio took the heavyweight title after Yakutat's Dakota Ekis retired because of an apparent knee injury to lead Thunder Mountain to a third-place finish with 114 points.
Riley said he felt on top of his game after the quick pin, and he said he's confident as the teams head into the Region V tournament in two weeks.
"It was a fast, smooth move, and it's all on me and my practice partner and the coaches to memorize these takedowns," he said. "I'm pretty confident on the region part, but I need to make my mark at state. I just have to wrestle hard."
Crimson Bears senior Andrew Hoch remained undefeated on the season with a convincing 16-2 win over Wrangell's Kurt Dingwall to help his team to a fifth-place finish with 72.5 points. Hoch said while it's a good accomplishment to remain undefeated, he knows the competition will greatly increase in the near future.
"I'm feeling pretty good about it, but I have to be really prepared after regions. State's going to have a lot more competition," he said. "Having 22 wins in the region is OK but as far as state goes it might not be that great."
Teammate Eric Ashenfelter found himself in the third-place match earlier in the night after being defeated in the semifinals by Bossio, but the Juneau-Douglas heavyweight battled through a difficult matchup with Ketchikan's Cody Ring, who is considered to be one of the top grapplers in the state.
After avoiding a near pinfall, Ashenfelter recovered to pin his opponent in the third period.
"I noticed he was kind of high on me, so I bucked my hips like I've been told. And as soon as he came over I noticed he wasn't turning to his belly right away," he said. "So I grabbed a hold of his arm, wrapped his head and sat out. It's called a head-and-arm pin."
"He had me scared. I made a mistake and gave up my back," he continued. "I just thought to myself, 'I can't lose. I can't lose.'"
As for the team standings, Falcons coach Chad Requa said he'll take third place after he felt his team was outperformed.
"It doesn't feel like a third-place performance, to be honest. I'm surprised we finished that high," he said. "I think the difference was the matches we did win, we won by pin. Those extra two points per pin, they add up. So that makes a difference. It's not just winning matches, but how you win that matters. That put us over the top for third.
"Ketchikan and Mt. Edgecumbe are really good teams, so I'm pleasantly surprised at the way we finished."
Mt. Edgecumbe finished first overall with a total score of 169.5, barely beating out second-place Ketchikan's 168.5. The Falcons were third with 114 points, followed by Wrangell's 104.5. The Crimson Bears rounded out the top five teams.
Thunder Mountain and Juneau-Douglas have next weekend off before hitting the road for the Region V tournament Dec. 3-4 in Craig.
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