At its last home meet the weekend before Thanksgiving, the Juneau-Douglas High School wrestling team came close, oh so close, to winning the team title.
But Ketchikan whisked away the Brandon Pilot Invitational championship by just 2.5 points, 171.5-169, leaving the Crimson Bears anxious to defend their home mats against the Kings at this weekend's rematch in the JDHS main gym.
"It was such a close tournament last time," said Crimson Bear junior wrestler Dennis Hall. "It would be nice to do it this weekend, to redeem ourselves in front of the home crowd."
The series of dual meets, which also includes the Sitka Wolves, will begin at 5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. A complete schedule can be found at the end of this article.
This weekend's meets should feature close matches and down-to-the-wire team finishes. Sitka has strong wrestlers in several weight classes, and the Ketchikan-Juneau matchups figure to be close affairs yet again.
"Man for man, we match up well with them," Crimson Bear coach Bob Mahon said.
The Crimson Bears have momentum and confidence as they return to action from a successful Anchorage trip. They finished with a .500 team record in six matches against Anchorage, Mat-Su and Kenai Peninsula large school teams - the first time they had seen many of those schools in nearly three years.
"I think we're more relaxed now, after going up there and realizing that we can wrestle against those guys," Mahon said.
Freshman Gerry Carillo, who wrestles at 103 pounds, was one Crimson Bear who had some individual success last weekend. He said once the Juneau wrestlers knew who they were dealing with, things went well.
"When we got up there, it wasn't so tough," he said. "The first time up there I was scared but (the experience) boosted my confidence" as time went on.
"Once I found out they were just the same as me, I wasn't as intimidated," said Hall, who wrestles at 119.
The Crimson Bears are hoping to keep building on their Anchorage trip this weekend and for the rest of the season.
"I think we'll do a lot better after wrestling up north," senior co-captain David Liliedahl said. "We've got a lot more confidence."
Friday and Saturday's meets are the last before a long holiday layoff for the Crimson Bears. They will return to action at Ketchikan on Jan. 3-4, travel to Fairbanks on Jan. 9-11, go to Sitka on Jan. 17-18 and host the Region V meet Jan. 31-Feb. 1. The state meet is in Ketchikan on Feb. 7-8.
The schedule for this weekend's dual meets is as follows:
Friday: Sitka vs. Ketchikan, 5-6:30 p.m.; Ketchikan vs. Juneau, 6:30-8 p.m.; Sitka vs. Juneau, 8-9:30 p.m.
Saturday: Sitka vs. Juneau, 5-6:30 p.m.; Sitka vs. Ketchikan, 6:30-8 p.m.; Juneau vs. Ketchikan, 8-9:30 p.m.
There will be junior varsity and exhibition matches from 9 to noon and 1-4 p.m. on Saturday.
Andrew Krueger can be reached at email@example.com.