Buoyed by strong performances from upperclassmen and by freshman who stepped up in the spotlight, Petersburg won the Region V-Class 2A-3A wrestling meet last Friday and Saturday in Craig.
The Vikings qualified 14 wrestlers for this weekend's Class 1A-2A-3A state tournament and finished with 235.5 points, well ahead of second-place Mount Edgecumbe (151.5 points) and third-place Klawock (115 points).
"They exceeded all my expectations," Petersburg coach Tom Cox said of his team. "The kids, as a whole, wrestled outstanding."
The Vikings got titles from six traditionally-strong veterans - Richie Deaver at 130 pounds, Jake Oyler at 140, Vic Jenny at 152, Jim Smith at 160, Kyle Hardin at 171 and Geoff Hall at 275.
Hardin faced Curtis Demmert of Klawock in the finals, with the crowd in Craig cheering loudly for Demmert. Hardin emerged with a 6-1 victory, and was named outstanding wrestler of the tournament.
"Kyle wrestled (Demmert) at his gym and dominated him," Cox said by phone from Petersburg on Monday. "I couldn't be more proud of a kid who's a senior and has done everything right in his career."
The efforts of Petersburg's freshman wrestlers helped secure the team title for the Vikings. Cox said three of the four freshmen he took to Craig came away with state berths - Levi Newman at 125 pounds, Jesse Agner at 130 and Neil Jenny at 145.
"To have freshmen come through in the big meet is really neat," Cox said.
Petersburg's Alenna Nilsen, who finished third at 103 pounds, became the first-ever girl from her school to qualify for the state wrestling meet.
Wrestlers from the northern Panhandle qualifying for state were Hoonah's Wilbur Skeek, who beat Skagway's Kyle Fairbanks to finish third at 135 pounds, and Pelican's Jorden Phillips, who finished third at 275.
Wrangell won the team sportsmanship award.
The Class 1A-2A-3A state wrestling tournament will be held Thursday, Friday and Saturday at Homer High School.
Petersburg is ranked second in the state in the Palmer-based alaskawrestling.com coaches' poll of Dec. 3. Kotzebue is the top-ranked team in the poll, which covers Class 1A-2A-3A teams.
Andrew Krueger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
REGION V-CLASS 2A-3A WRESTLING TOURNAMENT
Results from the Region V-Class 2A/3A wrestling tournament, held last Friday and Saturday at Craig High School. The top three individual finishers qualify for state - both wrestlers in the championship finals and the winner of the consolation final. Team abbreviations are Petersburg (Psg), Mount Edgecumbe (ME), Klawock (Klw), Wrangell (Wrg), Hydaburg (Hyd), Hoonah (Hnh), Pelican (Pel), Thorne Bay (TB), Metlakatla (Met) and Skagway (Skg).
Teams - 1. Petersburg, 235.5 points; 2. Mount Edgecumbe, 151.5; 3. Klawock, 115; 4. Wrangell, 113; 5. Craig, 71; 6. Hydaburg, 49.5; 7. Kake, 31; 8. Hoonah, 28; 9. Pelican, 25; 10. Thorne Bay, 20; 11. Metlakatla, 13; 12. Skagway, 12; 13. Yakutat, 4.
103 pounds - Earl Alstrom (ME) dec. Spencer Beckman (Craig), 9-3. 112 - Bryan Westfall (Craig) dec. Marshall Peterman (Wrg), 9-6. 119 - Chris Schnur (Klw) maj. dec. Drake Lyons (Psg), 13-0. 125 - Josh Garrison (Wrg) dec. Rafael Ramirez (Klw), 10-7. 130 - Richie Deaver (Psg) dec. Justin Benston (Klw), 4-2. 135 - Harry Churchill (Wrg) pinned Brian Newman (Psg), 2 minutes, 40 seconds. 140 - Jake Oyler (Psg) pinned Sam Carney (ME), 3:01. 145 - Jack Carney (ME) dec. Neil Jenny (Psg), 5-2. 152 - Vic Jenny (Psg) dec. Jake Mork (Wrg), 4-2. 160 - Jim Smith (Psg) dec. Max Shellabarger (ME), 7-5. 171 - Kyle Hardin (Psg) dec. Curtis Demmert (Klw), 6-1. 189 - Cliff Sheehan (ME) dec. Cody Roberts (Wrg), 3-2. 215 - Daniel Frank (Hyd) pinned Mike McMahon (Psg), 4:24. 275 - Geoff Hall (Psg) maj. dec. Matthew Ashenfelter (Kake), 15-5.
103 pounds - Alenna Nilsen (Psg) pinned Madeline Nyhagen (Skg), 3:12. 112 - Ryan Gray (TB) pinned Joe Yates (Klw), 5:10. 119 - Mark Peterman (Wrg) pinned Marita Tolson (Hyd), 2:42. 125 - Levi Newman (Psg) dec. Brent Cole (Craig), 5-4. 130 - Jesse Agner (Psg) dec. Thomas Andrade (Klw), 9-7. 135 - Wilbur Skeek (Hnh) dec. Kyle Fairbanks (Skg), 15-11. 140 - Brandon Benston (Klw) dec. Ben Young (Hyd), 8-4. 145 - Kris Edfelt (Psg) dec. Jory Peterson (ME), 9-5. 152 - Nick Shellabarger (ME) pinned Justin Gardner (ME), 5:45. 160 - George Beans (ME) pinned Roberto Medina (Klw), 5:27. 171 - Cliff Shellabarger (ME) tech. fall. Eric Adams (Hyd), 22-6. 189 - Jordan Savage (Craig) maj. dec. Jake Amberson (Psg), 16-8. 215 - Aaron Billy (Kake) dec. Fred Phillips (Pel), 5-4. 275 - Jorden Phillips (Pel) pinned Biaz Horne (Met), 0:42.