There still are nearly two months left in the high school wrestling season. So you can understand why Juneau-Douglas High School senior captain Dennis Hall just realized this weekend will be the final home meets of his career.
The Crimson Bears host the Ketchikan Kings and the Sitka Wolves for a series of two Region V-Class 4A triple-dual meets today and Saturday. Each day the three varsity squads will take turns wrestling each other, with action starting at 3:30 p.m. today and 1 p.m. on Saturday.
"It kind of came as a surprise," said Hall, who is ranked sixth in the state at his weight at 125 pounds. "I hope all my family and friends can come and watch."
Hall is one of three seniors who will see action this weekend, and he's by far the most experienced of the trio. Most of the other Crimson Bears are freshmen or sophomores, with a handful of juniors filling out the roster.
Patrick Lumba is a senior 275-pounder, but he's still in his first year with the young team. Chris Pleasants, at 171 pounds, is the other senior.
"This is just my third (home) meet," Lumba said. "We want to prove ourselves again, because we didn't quite get it done last time. A lot of our guys are doing better. We've got a lot of young guys on the varsity."
"We'll have to wait and see how our younger guys do," Hall said. "Our younger guys are making a lot of improvement."
When the Juneau wrestlers take the mat at 3:30 p.m. today against Ketchikan, two Crimson Bears will be wrestling with new No. 1 state rankings from the AlaskaWrestling.com Web site.
Sophomore Gerry Carrillo is the top-ranked wrestler at 103 pounds, while junior Jake Ritter is No. 1 at 215. The only other Crimson Bear (besides Hall) to be ranked was junior Sungie Musarra, who is third at 112 pounds.
"I was just shocked," Carrillo said. "I didn't think they'd rank me first. If you're ranked No. 1, you have to work a lot harder to stay there."
Last weekend, the Juneau wrestling team posted a 1-2 record in Bartlett's annual Jerry Palmer Invitational team tournament, where teams compete in dual meets and advance through a bracket. The Crimson Bears beat the Dimond Lynx 42-21, but lost 43-27 to the Service Cougars and 42-28 to the Chugiak Mustangs.
During the Bartlett tournament, Ritter had a chance to wrestle No. 2 Michael Petrovich of Service, winning a 6-3 decision.
"I didn't know he was No. 2," Ritter said of the matchup. "I think I can wrestle better than I did, and I'll have to. Everyone wants to knock off No. 1."
Ketchikan will bring its own pair of No. 1 wrestlers to the meets, but both won state titles last year. David Mann, who won last year's 103-pound title, is top-ranked at 112 pounds, while defending heavyweight champion Jon Hamilton is No. 1 at 275.
Two other Kings are ranked No. 3 - Zach Thompson at 171 and Jes Boys at 140 - while Rafael Ramirez-Ruiz is ranked fifth at 135. The only ranked Sitka wrestlers are Dylan Bergman (sixth at 152) and George Howard (seventh at 130).
Juneau's strength has been in its lower weight classes, with a boost from Ritter at the top. Juneau coach Kris Mercer said he might rearrange his lineup this weekend to take advantage of the strength, especially now that his youngest wrestlers have been to a meet outside the region.
"Last week I saw a lot more fire out of these guys than I've seen all season," Mercer said. "I'm going to try to spread my lower weights a little better."
"We're moving guys around and I'll be moving up a weight. We're filling in the holes," Hall said. "I think Bartlett gave us a little more confidence. We saw some tough teams and that will help against Ketchikan and Sitka."
As for the Crimson Bears, they're looking at this weekend as a good barometer of how they stand in the region.
"We'll all try our hardest. We want to make our town proud in our last home meet," Carrillo said.
"You can't underestimate the importance of this week," Ritter added. "We just need to get some matches in."
Charles Bingham can be reached at email@example.com.
JUNEAU-DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL DUAL MEET WRESTLING SCHEDULE
The schedule for this weekend's series of triple-dual meets between the Juneau-Douglas High School Crimson Bears, the Ketchikan Kings and the Sitka Wolves. All varsity dual meets take place in the JDHS main gym, and school officials might throw in some junior varsity matches not on this schedule.
3:30 p.m. - Juneau-Douglas vs. Ketchikan.
5:30 p.m. - Ketchikan vs. Sitka.
7:30 p.m. - Juneau-Douglas vs. Sitka.
1 p.m. - Ketchikan vs. Sitka.
3 p.m. - Juneau-Douglas vs. Sitka.
5 p.m. - Juneau-Douglas vs. Ketchikan.