ANCHORAGE — Mononucleosis couldn’t knock out Tyler Adams. Neither could a defending state champion.
In the lone match of the final round that featured two defending state champs, Adams edged Soldotna senior Auston Tennis 9-7 in the 145-pound final of the ASAA/First National Bank State Wrestling Championships at Bartlett High School in Anchorage.
The Wasilla senior earned a pair of near-fall points during the final seconds of the match to win his second straight state title, and block Tennis from scoring back-to-back titles.
Last year, Adams used his championship to help Wasilla win a state title. But this year, Adams earned the crown after missing six weeks of the season with mono.
Which one is more sweet?
“I have to say this one’s better,” Adams said after his win. “Coming back from illness, beating a state champion that won it last year, someone I’ve always thought of as an extraordinary wrestler.
“It was an honor to wrestle another state champion in the final match. Two seniors duking it out in the match. It was an honor to be in that match.”
Tennis, a three-time state finalist, scored an early takedown in the first period and built a 7-2 lead in the second period. Early in the second, Tennis got Adams on his back and used three nearfall points to take a 5-0 lead. Adams scored a reversal to cut Tennis’ lead to 5-2. With less than 20 seconds left in the second, Tennis scored a reversal near the edge of the mat to push his lead to 7-2. Momentum carried the wrestlers out-of-bounds with 12 seconds left.
But the key moment came in those final seconds of the match.
With Adams in the down position, the Wasilla senior scored a quick reversal right after the whistle blew, and managed to get Tennis to his back and earn the nearfall points. Those five points tied the match at 7.
“I felt more confident going into that last period,” Adams said. “Going into that last period I felt like I kind of hit my stride in the match, and stopped his momentum.”
The rivals, who also wrestled in the final round of the North/South Invitational and the Northern Lights Conference Championships, battled throughout the third period. With Tennis in the bottom position, there was a scramble during the final seconds. Tennis appeared to get the reversal, but just as that was happening, Adams turned Tennis to his back. Adams was awarded a pair of nearfall points and the win.
“When the whistle blew, I pretty much knew it was mine because I had him on his back,” Adams said. “I was excited to come off with another state championship.”
Tennis, the lone Peninsula wrestler in the final, led Soldotna to a 14th-place finish in the team standings. Troy Strieff also took fifth for the Stars.
Tennis was also one of only three Kenai-area wrestlers seeded in the tournament. Kenai’s Ellery Steffensen was seeded second at 132, but was upset in the semifinals by NLC rival Cameron White of Kodiak. Steffensen forfeited his next two matches, and settled for sixth place.
Hope Steffensen, seeded fifth at 106, finished 1-2 in the tournament.
Hope Steffensen won her first match, beating Lathrop’s Paige Warnke 5-1. She suffered a tough 4-3 loss to Andrew Caballa in the quarterfinals. Caballa went on to win the state title.
Tennis pinned his way into the title match. He stuck South Anchorage’s Tucker Miller in the first round. Tennis needed only 53 seconds to pin West’s Manny Torres in the quarterfinals, and he pinned third-seeded Dominic Taus of Eagle River in the semifinals.
Service rolled to the team title, snapping the Mat-Su Valley’s nine-year winning streak. The Cougars, who finished with 250.5 points to win the title, placed nine wrestlers in the finals. Five Service wrestlers won state titles.
Wasilla, which had won five of the last nine team titles, finished second with 214 points. A pair of Wasilla grapplers were crowned champs.
ASAA/FIRST NATIONAL BANK 4A STATE WRESTLING CHAMPIONSHIPS
Friday and Saturday, Bartlett High School
Team scores: 1. Service 250.5, 2. Wasilla 214.5, 3. Kodiak 201.5, 4. South Anchorage 142, 5. East Anchorage 136, 6. Palmer 123, 7. Lathrop 121.5, 8. Chugiak 117, 9. (tie) Colony 85.5, West Anchorage 85.5, 11. Eagle River 59, 12. North Pole 48, 13. West Valley 44, 14. Soldotna 38, 15. Ketchikan 27, 16. Bartlett 26, 17. Kenai 16, 18. Juneau 9, 19. Thunder Mountain 8.5, 20. Dimond.
106 pounds — Caballa, Kod, md Willard, East 11-0.
113 — Hendrix, Lat, dec. Nanez, Ser, 5-0.
120 — Fox, Was, dec. Llorente, Kod, 3-2.
126 — Pounds, Ser, dec. Decker, NP, 9-2.
132 — Achman, Lat, dec. White, Kod, 3-1 OT.
138 — Lunsford, Ser, fall McKimson, Was, 5:57.
145 — Adams, Was, dec. Tennis, Sold., 9-7.
152 — Skieens, Ser, dec. Pena, West, 6-2.
160 — Murakami, Ser, dec. Si. Root, Col, 5-2.
170 — Wiggins, East, dec. Dunbar, Ser, 5-2.
182 — Morrison, Chug., md Johnson, Kod, 14-5.
195 — Ellis, Ser, fall Crews, West, 1:17.
220 — Farber, Col, dec. Zorea, Ser, 15-9.
285 — Green, Bar, dec. Pili, Ser, 4-3.
106 pounds — Girard, East, dec. Alvarado, South, 3-1.
113 — Shannon, Was, dec. Ritchie, South, 8-1.
120 — Burris, Kod, fall Carpenter, Was, :59.
126 — Pempek, Pal, def. Agnew, WV, ID.
132 — Hogenseon, South, dec. Townes, East, 4-2.
138 — Serna, Was, dec. Gillen, Lat, 8-4.
145 — Zimmerman, Lat, dec. Taus, ER, 2-1.
152 — Lepola, Kod, dec. Sa. Root, Col, 9-3.
160 — Shangin, South, dec. Rogers, NP, 3-2.
170 — Cheney, Lat, md Sheets, ER, 19-5.
182 — Lopez, South, dec. Fuller, Was, 7-5.
195 — Medeiros, Chug., dec. Gonzalez, Was, 8-6 OT.
220 — Akelkok, Was, dec. Frohling, Pal, 6-3.
285 — Garris-Shoemaker, WV, dec. Thompson, Pal, 5-3 OT.
106 pounds — Fetko, S, dec. Cochran, Pal, 3-2.
113 — Fried, Kod, def. Ottum, South, ID.
120 — Hammond, South, fall Luff, ER, 4:31.
126 — Jury, Chug., md Hu, Dim, 12-3.
132 — Huck, West, def. Steffensen, Ken, ID.
138 — Downing, East, md Jury, Chug., 13-4.
145 — Huen, Pal, def. Mackey, Ketch., ID.
152 — Corbett, East, fall Hamilton, Ketch., 4:41.
160 — Forbush, Chug., tech. fall Deal, Kod, 18-1.
170 — Parson, Kod, dec. Elliot, West, 10-9 OT.
182 — Strieff, Sold., dec. Nielson, Pal, 12-5.
195 — Madabuko, ER, fall Seims, Was, 1:50.
220 — Burroughs, Chug., fall Pettit, Was, 2:27.
285 — Trombley, Chug., def. Jones, East, ID.