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As the Juneau-Douglas High School wrestling team headed to the fall season state tournament this weekend in Kenai, the Crimson Bears were seeking redemption for losing the Region V championships to Ketchikan a week ago.
The Crimson Bears found their redemption as Juneau posted its best finish ever in a state tournament by taking second place Saturday night at Kenai Central High School.
The Crimson Bears scored 202.5 points, well behind the total of 288 posted by the state champion Skyview Panthers. The Nikiski Bulldogs was the top Class 3A team in the tournament after taking third place with 173.5 points, followed by the Ketchikan Kings with 167.5, the Dillingham Wolverines with 135 and the Petersburg Vikings in sixth place with 127.5 points.
Among the other Southeast teams at the state tournament, Sitka took 18th place with 41.5 points, Wrangell tied for 19th place with 39, Klawock took 24th place with 22, Hoonah was tied for 27th place with 15 points, Kake took 30th with 10, Craig tied for 37th with four points and Mount Edgecumbe was scoreless.
"The team was awesome," said Juneau senior Anthony Manacio III, one of only two seniors for the Crimson Bears. "It was really, really good. It was amazing, especially to be ahead of Ketchikan. I'm happy about the team and hope the future is even better."
Juneau, which broke a 14-year state-title drought with two individual crowns last year, sent three wrestlers to the championship finals Saturday night, with sophomore Jestin Hulegaard claiming Juneau's only title of the night with a 4-3 decision over Skyview's Ryan Childers at 130 pounds.
Hulegaard had Juneau's two state champions from last year -- Gary Reid and Garrett Schoenberger -- in his corner helping coach his match. Hulegaard was later named the tournament's outstanding wrestler, joining Reid as the second straight Juneau wrestler to earn the honor.
Wrangell won the team academic award, while Valdez won the team sportsmanship award in the other honors passed out after the tournament. Barrow's Richard Metcalf was named the coach of the year and Petersburg's Jim Farrington earned assistant coach of the year honors.
"I'm feeling very good," said Hulegaard, who was seeded fifth entering the tournament after suffering an upset loss to Wrangell's Harry Churchill in last weekend's region meet. "I just didn't know for sure. I thought Melina (Hutchison of Skyview, who took third at 112) might get it for being the first girl to place at state. Or there was that Skyview kid at 103 (Cody Phipps) who was seeded fourth but won."
Hulegaard is a multisport athlete who also plays baseball and has played football in the past. But this summer, Hulegaard kept up his wrestling by practicing with the Juneau Tornadoes club team which is also coached by Juneau-Douglas High School coach Bob Mahon. He went to the school boy nationals, and Hulegaard said the experience played a major role in his state title.
"I don't think I would have won if I hadn't wrestled this summer," Hulegaard said. "It helped me so much. It's not even so much the technique, it's the confidence you get for doing it. It was a big factor for me."
The other Juneau wrestlers to reach the finals were junior Anthony Manacio IV, who lost a 4-2 decision to Kotzebue's Hans Hansen at 112 pounds, and by sophomore Patrick Carrillo, who lost a 10-7 decision to Ninilchik's Rex Savely at 119.
Several other Juneau wrestlers placed in the meet, with senior Brian Thatcher taking third place at 171 pounds, junior Jerrod Harvey third at 215, junior Vernon Perry fourth at 103, senior Anthony Manacio III fourth at 125 and junior Justin Rasmussen was sixth at 215 after having to default with a twisted ankle.
"I guess we did pretty good," said Thatcher, whose only loss was to eventual champion Mick Davis of Bethel. "I didn't go to state last year, so I'm pretty excited about third in state. I wrestled some guys I lost to last year and beat them this time. I was probably thinking this is my last year so I was just wrestling like every match was my last one. I didn't have anything to lose."
"I'm proud of my teammates and all the people I worked with," Manacio III said. "This is more placers than we had last year and every year it's a step up."
Ketchikan had two wrestlers claim state titles in Geoff Nordlund at 160 pounds and Matt Hamilton at 275 (heavyweight). Sitka had one wrestler reach the finals, but Darren LaDuke ended up second at 189 pounds. No other Southeast wrestlers reached the finals.
Skyview had six wrestlers reach the finals and five win titles -- Phipps at 103, Neil Strausbaugh at 125, Ian Leach at 135, Ron Winger at 145 and Chris Rice at 152. The other championships went to Seward's Darian Draper at 140, Cordova's James Weise at 189 and Valdez's Cody Dahlstrom at 215.
FALL SEASON STATE
Results from the fall season state wrestling tournament Dec. 14-16 at Kenai Central High School.
Final team scores -- 1. Skyview, 288 points; 2. Juneau-Douglas, 202.5; 3. Nikiski, 173.5; 4. Ketchikan, 167.5; 5. Dillingham, 135; 6. Petersburg, 127.50; 7. Barrow, 114; 8. Soldotna, 97; 9. Kotzebue, 94; 10. Homer, 91; 11. Seward, 85.5; 12. Anchorage Christian Schools, 71; 13. Valdez, 70; 14. Bethel, 55; 15. Houston, 51.5; 16. Ninilchik, 49.5; 17. Unalakleet-Degnan, 47.5; 18. Sitka, 41.5; 19. tie, Wrangell, 39; 19. tie, Cordova, 39; 21. Kenai Central, 38.5; 22. Kenny Lake, 26; 23. Nome-Beltz, 24; 24. Klawock, 22; 25. Bristol Bay, 20; 26. Glennallen, 17.5; 27. tie, Hoonah, 15; 27. tie, Seldovia-English, 15; 29. Aniak, 11; 30. Kake, 10; 31. Stebbins, 8; 32. Nenana, 7.5; 33. Akiachak-Moses Peter, 7; 34. tie, Tok, 6; 34. tie, White Mountain, 6; 34. tie, Grace Christian School, 6; 37. tie, Craig, 4; 37. tie, Manokotak, 4; 39. tie, Newhalen, 3; 39. tie, Noorvik, 3; 41. Togiak, 2; 42. tie, Mount Edgecumbe, 0; 42. tie, Nunapitchuk, 0; 42. tie, Point Hope-Tikigaq, 0; 42. tie, Sand Point, 0.
Class 4A champion -- Skyview Panthers, 288 points. Class 3A champion -- Nikiski, 173.5 points. Class 2A champion -- Ninilchik, 49.5 points. Class 1A champion -- Aniak, 11 points.
Academic team award -- Wrangell Wolves.
Sportsmanship team award -- Valdez Buccaneers.
Outstanding wrestler -- Jestin Hulegaard, Juneau-Douglas, champion at 130 pounds.
Coach of the year -- Richard Metcalf, Barrow.
Assistant coach of the year -- Jim Farrington, Petersburg.
103 pounds -- Cody Phipps, Skyview, maj. dec. Devion Hagen, Homer, 16-6. 112 -- Hans Hansen, Kotzebue, dec. Anthony Manacio IV, Juneau, 4-2. 119 -- Rex Savely, Ninilchik, dec. Patrick Carrillo, Juneau, 10-7. 125 -- Neil Strausbaugh, Skyview, dec. Donny McCartney, Dillingham, 5-0. 130 -- Jestin Hulegaard, Juneau, dec. Ryan Childers, Skyview, 4-3. 135 -- Ian Leach, Skyview, dec. Neil Fucci, Nikiski, 3-1. 140 -- Darian Draper, Seward, maj. dec. Ryan Savo, Dillingham, 12-3. 145 -- Ron Winger, Skyview, pin. Steven Calderwood, Nikiski, 3:15. 152 -- Chris Rice, Skyview, maj. dec. Duane Dosser, Kenny Lake, 13-4. 160 -- Geoff Nordlund, Ketchikan, maj. dec. Chris Roofe, Nikiski, 14-6. 171 -- Mick Davis, Bethel, dec. Ray Parker, Nome-Beltz, 4-0. 189 -- James Weise, Cordova, dec. Darren LaDuke, Sitka, 6-0. 215 -- Cody Dahlstrom, Valdez, dec. Corbin Stirling, Seward, 7-2. 275 -- Matt Hamilton, Ketchikan, over Jacob Chapel, Houston, by injury default.
(third-fourth place matches)
103 pounds -- Nuk Harcharek, Barrow, dec. Vernon Perry, Juneau, 3-2. 112 -- Melina Hutchison, Skyview, dec. Spencer Hirt, Barrow, 4-2. 119 -- Monte Garroutte, Homer, dec. Jon Fisher, Barrow, 11-9. 125 -- Jacob Case, Valdez, dec. Anthony Manacio III, Juneau, 3-2. 130 -- Lionel Manyoky, Anchorage Christian Schools, dec. Nephi Hirt, Barrow, 8-4. 135 -- Joey Fama, Ketchikan, dec. Ben Nabinger, Skyview, 9-4. 140 -- Charlie Doty, Unalakleet, pin. Mike Nilsen, Petersburg, 0:32. 145 -- Ian Williams, Petersburg, dec. Stephan Haseltine, Ketchikan, 3-1. 152 -- Joshua Meeks, Nikiski, dec. John Rae, Kotzebue, 4-1. 160 -- Chris Fraker, Homer, dec. Joey Boggs, Petersburg, 9-5. 171 -- Brian Thatcher, Juneau, dec. Jay Fulk, Ketchikan, 4-2 OT. 189 -- Vance Gaddis, Skyview, dec. Kory Reimer, Petersburg, 9-8. 215 -- Jerrod Harvey, Juneau, pin. Kenny Ivanoff, Unalakleet, 0:13. 275 -- Seko Unutoa, Barrow, maj. dec. Sander Johnson, Dillingham, 14-4.
Fifth-sixth place matches
103 pounds -- Josh Hundorf, Nikiski, dec. Matt Jones, Ketchikan, 12-9. 112 -- Chris Schnur, Klawock, dec. Aaron Moses, Bethel, 9-3. 119 -- Willy Dodd, Juneau, dec. Tela O'Donnell, Nikiski, 6-4. 125 -- Chris McCaughey, Nikiski, dec. Jacob Lashot, Kenai, 10-8. 130 -- Ben Fritze, Dillingham, maj. dec. Norman Orr, Homer, 14-5. 135 -- Bryan Chartier, Seldovia, dec. David Gauthier, Sitka, 7-5. 140 -- Kanae Peacock, Kotzebue, dec. James Sadler, Skyview, 10-8 OT. 145 -- Nate Morse, Skyview, dec. Imre Manyoky, Anchorage Christian Schools, 9-7. 152 -- Jimmy Rufuerzo, Hoonah, dec. John Matson, Ninilchik, 10-5. 160 -- Thor Lie, Kotzebue, over Ron Plate, Skyview, by forfeit. 171 -- Jason Bennis, Dillingham, dec. James Whitmore, Soldotna, 11-4. 189 -- Devin Loomis, Seward, pin. Mike James, Kake, 1:44. 215 -- Matt Nore, Wrangell, over Justin Rasmussen, Juneau, by forfeit. 275 -- Angelo Luna, Nikiski, pin. Josh Urinko, Soldotna, 1:31.