Senior night for Skyview wrestling saw a freshman turn the most heads — and stomachs.
Austin Craig outlasted Calvin Johnson 14-12 to help Skyview rumble Homer 67-0 in dual action Tuesday.
Craig also outlasted the strawberry-flavored protein milk he ingested before the match.
“As soon as I got that out,” Craig said, grinning, “I could breathe again.”
The 106-pound freshman crumpled to his knees with a 12-7 lead midway through the second period and vomited, causing a three-minute delay as coaches sanitized the mat.
And as soon as the frame ended, he trotted to a nearby trash can and did it again.
Craig, who trailed 7-6 after the opening period, had never grown ill during a match. After the contest, he was all smiles.
“I thought it was funny,” said Craig, who is 17-8 this season. “Did you see me point my thumb up at the guys on the bench?”
Even longtime coach Neldon Gardner was amused by the exchange.
“I think he drank a little too much Gatorade after weigh-in, or something,” Gardner said. “I tell them to leave it all on the mat, but I guess I’ll have to explain it a little better — you don’t want to leave your Gatorade and cookies on the mat.”
Homer was short-handed because of injuries, sickness, grades and the Thanksgiving holiday.
That resulted in Skyview receiving victories by forfeit in seven weight classes. The Panthers got free passes at 126, 132, 152, 160, 195, 220 and heavyweight.
There was a double forfeit at 170.
Hannah Hutchison earned a 9-3 decision at 113, defeating Austin McGregor. Grant Valiquette picked up a pin at 120. Bailey Blumentritt defeated Harley Wells 10-5 at 138, holding on after taking a 10-2 lead into the third.
Also winning for the Panthers were Austin Zimmerman, who edged Pedro Ochoa 7-4 at 145, and Alex Rodriguez, who got a pin at 182.
“Our kids wrestled well. I was real pleased,” Gardner said. “They gave everything they had, but there’s still room to improve.”
The Panthers are off until the conference tournament, which is in Seward in about two weeks.
Gardner said he hopes to get between 12 and 14 wrestlers to the Class 3A state championships, but would be happy with nine or 10.
Five wrestlers per weight class advance to state from the conference tournament.
“We’re looking to fine-tune for regions and get as many as we can through to state,” said Gardner, whose squad moved from the large-schools to the small-schools classification this season. “All in all, I’m glad with where we are. Our kids fit in better with the small-schools division than they do with the large schools.”
The Panthers recognized four seniors Tuesday — Hutchison, Rodriguez, Williams and TJ Checketts. Gardner expects each to compete for a bid to state.
And whether or not Craig advances in the postseason, he earned the respect of his coach and teammates by overcoming his stomach — and a strong opponent — on Tuesday.
“He went hard the whole time,” Gardner said. “You’ve got to give him credit for that.”
There also were seven exhibition matches, including three featuring wrestlers from Cook Inlet Academy.
Panthers 67, Mariners 0
106 – Austin Craig, Sky, dec. Calvin Johnson, Hom, 14-12; 113 – Hannah Hutchison, Sky, dec. Austin McGregor, Hom, 9-3; 120 – Grant Valiquette, Sky, p. not listed, Hom, 1:05; 126 – Skyview won by forfeit; 132 – Skyview won by forfeit; 138 – Bailey Lumentritt, Sky, dec. Harley Wells, Hom, 10-5; 145 – Kyle Zimmerman, Sky, dec. Pedro Ochoa, Hom, 7-4; 152 – Skyview won by forfeit; 160 – Skyview won by forfeit; 170 – double forfeit; 182 – Alex Rodriguez, Sky, p. Tyler Wolfe, Hom, 1:19; 195 – Skyview on by forfeit; 220 – Skyview won by forfeit; heavyweight – Skyview won by forfeit.