The Crimson Bears wrestling team heads to Sitka today with high hopes for success at this weekend's Southeast Conference Championships. As a wind-sprint season winds down, the squad is primed to move on toward bigger goals.
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Head coach Kris Mercer predicts the team will contend in each weight class and said, "As a team we're fresh, we're healthy, and we're looking pretty strong."
The three schools, including Ketchikan, collide in two separate tournaments to square off in a 36-hour struggle from 8 a.m. on Friday to 7 p.m. Saturday evening. Eventually, the top two finishers in each weight class will go on to the upcoming state championships in Chugiak on Dec. 14 and 15.
Mercer said that it is too late in the season to be adding in any new strategies for the weekend's event.
"What we are doing right now is getting ready to peak," he said. "We're going over the basics and reviewing all the stuff we taught all year. We are working them hard, have built them as big as we can get them, and now it is time to just see what they can do."
Mercer expects no surprises this weekend and backed his team's ability to come away victorious.
"Our top wrestlers should have no problem ... They have already defeated what's there," he said. "When you have only two teams to wrestle in a region, you face each other quite a bit during a season. Down here, an upset is a pretty tough thing to accomplish."
Although senior wrestler Steven Dyer is the returning Southeast champion in the 152 pound weight class, he is serious about this weekend's matches. Dyer said, "I was sick recently, but I feel like I just came back from vacation. I feel a lot better, real sharp, and the break helped me get my mind all refreshed. I have been putting in an extra hour of running and working out with weights each day. We have a wrestling mat in our garage, and I get to spar with my brother in too ... Not many opponents can do that!"
Dyer has never won region title in his Juneau-Douglas High School career and really has his sights set on a state championship; a goal he set for himself in eighth grade.
Another senior, Ramiro Lamas, wrestling in the 215 pound division said, "I am going to Sitka focused and ready for hard competition. I expect everybody is going to give it their all, so I am not thinking that I have an advantage or I'm going to beat them, so I am just going to go to Sitka and not get sidetracked. We are going to go there and give it our all."
Just to touch on a few of the Crimson Bears, freshman Kyle Berry is moving up a weight class to see if he can increase his chances of entering the state championships. Cameron Frominos aims to surprise opponents with his quickness to qualify for Chugiak as well. Colton Baker, according to Mercer, "is getting better every time he wrestles. He's got a pretty wicked double arm bar, and so we will see how he does with that."
Sophomore Sabrina Storey, in the 103 pound division, pinned three out of four opponents in last week's match-up and is hungry for more pins this week.
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