Both Kenai Central and Soldotna high schools finished in the top 10 at the North-South wrestling tournament on Saturday in Soldotna, with heavy home-team support coming from both sides.
The Kardinals led with 54 points, good for an eighth-place team finish, while SoHi finished right behind them in ninth with 46.5 points. The Wasilla Warriors won the team championship with 210 points, beating runner-up South by 18.
No local athletes qualified in the championship rounds, but Kenai and Soldotna both had two wrestlers competing in the third-place matches.
In the 106-pound weight class, Kenai senior Hope Steffensen took third place honors by beating Jejomar Briones of West in a sudden death overtime period, having been tied 3-3 after six minutes of wrestling. In the one-minute extra period, Steffensen took an aggressive approach to Briones with a takedown 30 seconds in to score the two points needed to win. Steffensen finished the day with a 4-1 record.
“I was just looking to set up for the takedown, because I was having trouble at the end there,” Steffensen said. “He took me down near the end and I was thinking if he takes me down again, it’s done. Once we got into that scramble in sudden death overtime, if it was in regular wrestling and it happened, I would just let it go and reset, but I thought no, I want to get this over with now. You just kind of grit your teeth and do it.”
Kenai coach Stan Steffensen was complimentary of the performance from his daughter.
“That was the main move that she was going to do, was to get down and spin behind him, and the key thing was scrambling,” coach Steffensen said.
Senior Troy Strieff of Soldotna pinned Mark Dobbs of Wasilla with one minute, six seconds, left in his match to earn third-place honors in the 182-pound division, and finished the day 3-1.
“I knew he was a tough kid, and I just made it stick,” Strieff said. “I just told myself to not give up, wrestle with intensity and not force anything.
“I was really just trying to win, and if the pin was there, obviously I was going to try and take it.”
In the 145-pound class, Kenai’s Nolan Christopher lost by a 7-5 decision, which gave him fourth-place honors (and a 3-2 tournament record), and Soldotna’s Daniel Rosin was pinned by Wasilla’s Zach Rockstad with 1:22 left in the 195-pound division. The loss gave Rosin fourth place in the tournament and a 2-2 record.
“Daniel did great, he started in the beginning of the season having never wrestled, and to get into the third-place match, he beat seeded wrestlers that have wrestled for a long time, so he did great,” Soldotna coach Scooter Hackett said.
Hackett was pleased with the tournament, both the hosting of it and the performance of his team.
“I’m just happy with the whole team, everybody took what they learned this week and used it,” Hackett said. “I was proud.”
Stan Steffensen was also proud of his team for the placement.
“They represented our school and community well and showed a lot of heart,” Steffensen said. “They scored a lot of points in the last minute or even overtime.”
As the season nears its halfway mark, both coaches realize that the team must only improve in order to be competitive for the regional and state competitions in February.
“We’re hoping to have a good week at practice and get some of the kids that weren’t here today back in the lineup,” Steffensen said. “All aspects of our fundamentals we can add to, and the first third of the season is done, so it’s like football where we can look at it like a bye week.
“We’ll look at it and say all right, this part of the season is done, so what are we going to do from here? The kids are working hard in practice and it’s going to be a good next half of the season.”
Team scores: 1. Wasilla 210; 2. South 192; 3. Service 156; 4. Colony 154.5; 5. Ketchikan 101.5; 6. East 89; 7. West 72; 8. Kenai 54; 9. Soldotna 46.5; 10. Juneau 24; 11. Eagle River 17; 12. Bartlett 15.
98 pounds — G. Schack, South m.d. L. Albrecht, Was 11-1; 106 — K. Willard, East d. N. Ottum, South 7-6; 113 — 1. G. Alvardo, South p. B. Girard, East 3:35; 120 — J. Fetko, Ser p. A. Concepcion, South 3:04; 126 — A. Nanez, Ser d. Z. Ritchie, South 1-0; 132 — J. Pounds, Ser p. R. Steiner, Was 5:09; 138 — K. Hammond, South m.d. L. Collins, Ket 13-3; 145 — N. McKimson, Was d. K. Lucas, Col 4-1; 152 — T. Thammavongsa, Ser p. J. Noe, South 1:27; 160 — S. Root, Col p. N. Hakala, South 1:41; 170 — J. Wiggins, East d. L. Elliot, West 5-1; 182 — S. Root, Col p. F. Dunbar, Ser 5:55; 195 — D. Sauder, South p. B. Schultz, Was 1:04; 220 — Q. Wright, Was d. I. MacKenzie, Col 6-1; 285 — K. King, East p. E. Pili, Ser 2:42.
98 — S. Hoffman, Ser p. B. McKimson, Was 1:01; 106 — H. Steffensen, Ken d. J. Briones, West 5-3 OT; 113 — J. Nero, Col p. K. Hallstrom, Ket 5:55; 120 — J. Gentz, Was p. D. Dumesnil, Jun 1:24; 126 — S. Carpenter, Was t.f. N. Ottum, South 16-1; 132 — G. Arnold, ER d. I. Lontz, Ket 2-1; 138 — S. Adams, Col m.d. P. Inglet, Was 14-5; 145 — G. Giordano, South d. N. Christopher, Ken 7-5; 152 — D. Spear, Ket d. W. Nelson, Was 10-3; 160 — C. DeBoer, Ket d. D. Morrow, Was 2-0; 170 — H. Seltenreich, Was p. Z. Doan, Col 1:55; 182 — T. Strieff, Sol p. M. Dobbs, Was 4:54; 195 — Z. Rockstad, Was p. D. Rosin, Sol 4:38; 220 — A. Fuller, Was p. N. Stevens, Ser 3:41; 285 — C. Ring, Ket p. J. Augafa, South 2:12.