The Juneau-Douglas High School wrestling team is heading to Washington state this weekend - but there won't be much time for sightseeing.
The Crimson Bears will be on a tight schedule as they take part in the Rebel Duals on Saturday at Juanita High School in Kirkland, Wash. They will fly down Friday night, spend the night in the gym sleeping on the mats, and compete Saturday before coming home on Saturday night.
It will be Juneau's first trip to the Lower 48 since the team went to Oregon for a tournament two years ago, and the first Lower-48 trip under second-year coach Kris Mercer.
"This is the first time we've ventured south, kind of a recon thing," Mercer said of the trip, for which several wrestlers cashed in on Alaska Airlines' Permanent Fund Dividend deal. "It'll be nice to get some different competition. And it will be nice to let the guys up north wonder what's going on down here a little longer."
The Crimson Bears will travel with just 14 wrestlers, enough to fill a complete dual-meet roster with one wrestler at every weight class. A couple of Juneau's top wrestlers won't be able to make the trip - the JDHS football team's postseason banquet is Friday night - but Mercer thinks the squad he's taking still will be strong.
The traveling team includes Dante "Jephty" Santos at 103 pounds, Sungie Musarra at 112, Gerry Carrillo at 119, Cody Wolf at 125, Steven Reyes at 130, Clinton Clark at 135, Garret Cox at 140, Matt Barry at 145, Phillip Moser at 152, Chase Thomas at 160, John Kuterbach at 171, Jake Mason at 189, Justin Mathers at 215 and Kevin Wilkins at 275 pounds.
"It'll be our first time wrestling as a team in a dual meet this season," Mercer said. "All we've had so far have been round-robins and the Brandon Pilot (Invitational, a bracketed tournament)."
The Crimson Bears will be the only team from outside the Seattle area and its suburbs at the eight-team tournament. Other teams besides Juneau and host Juanita in the field are Snohomish, Bethel, Archbishop Murphy, Skyline, Bellevue Christian and Interlake.
An eight-team bracket will be drawn at random before the coaches' meeting Saturday morning, then teams will wrestle each other in dual meets determined by the bracket. Each team is guaranteed three dual meets.
"It'll be nice to see them," said Musarra, a senior who made Juneau's last trip south two years ago. "The mat time will be nice, and it'll be tough teams. Dual tournaments are a lot more fun. You get more team spirit."
"I'm looking forward to the competition," Santos said. "I've never been there, so I'm excited."
Of the Seattle-area teams, Bethel is one of the strongest, having finished second - with two first-place votes - in the South Puget Sound League's South Division preseason coaches' poll posted last week on the SPSLWrestling.com Web site. None of the teams in the tournament were ranked in the preseason state polls for their divisions posted on the WashingtonWrestling.com Web site.
At last year's Class 4A Washington state tournament, Bethel finished 40th with 12.5 points, Juanita took 45th place with seven points and Snohomish was tied for 49th with four points. At the Class 1A tourney, Archbishop Murphy tied for 43rd with three points and Bellevue Christian was 47th with one point. No team results could be found at any of the four state tournaments last year for Skyline and Interlake.
Charles Bingham can be reached at email@example.com.