Kenai Central High School was the scene of the Kardinals wrestling team’s senior night on Thursday, and so it was appropriate that Kenai took a victory in a dual meet with the Soldotna Stars in a 63-9 score.
Thursday also marked Kenai coach Stan Steffensen’s birthday, and the entire team surrounded him after the competition with a cake and a boisterous rendition of the birthday song.
“Tonight was a celebration of a great season, and we all feel blessed to be here tonight,” Steffensen said. “The kids wrestled hard and scrapped and worked hard. Hopefully the next part of the season will catapult us forward and we’ll do our best.”
Soldotna’s biggest hindrance was five forfeited matches, which the team had to take due to dwindling numbers. According to SoHi coach Scooter Hackett, there are only eight remaining wrestlers on the team.
“Regardless of the numbers, I’m happy with the results,” Hackett said. “I’m also really happy to see Kenai come together as a team this year, they have good numbers and a good squad.”
Of the eight matches, Kenai had five pins. Dustin Everitt (132 pounds), Ellery Steffensen (145), Matt Aho (160), Tyler Brown (195) and Zach Koziczkowski (220) all pinned their opponents, while Soldotna’s only pin came when senior Troy Streiff took down Kenai’s Kyle Hunter with four seconds remaining in the 182-pound match.
The meet ended with the 285-pound bout between Kenai senior Jake Dragseth and Soldotna’s John Alexander, which had the crowd on its feet. After six minutes of the two grappling on the mat, it was Alexander coming away with the 6-2 victory.
“John had a good match, and Jake really came out and wrestled a good tough match today,” Hackett said.
The dual ended the regular season for both teams, and now the wrestlers will prepare for the region tournament next weekend.
“We have a small team and so if we could take half, I’d be happy,” Hackett said.
“We don’t have many hurdles to climb,” Steffensen said. “The kids prepare really well and now hopefully, they’ll finish strong and enjoy the ride they’ve had and the community support. Kenai has a long tradition of alumni and tonight there was a lot of them in the stands.”
Thursday at Kenai Central
Team Scores — 1. Kenai, 63 points; 2. Soldotna, 9.
Individual — 113. Hope Steffensen, Ken won by forfeit; 120. Carlos Caballero, Ken won by forfeit; 126. Jeffery McNutt, Ken won by forfeit; 132. Dustin Everitt, Ken p. Dillon Ackerman, Sol 4:00; 138. Aaron Troxell-Tom, Ken dec. Hunter Bourgeois, Sol 10-5; 145. Ellery Steffensen, Ken p. Gaeden Ames, Sol 1:26; 152. Andrew Welborn, Ken won by forfeit; 160. Matt Aho, Ken p. Brent Nichols, Sol 3:16; 170. Dylan Carter, Ken won by forfeit; 182. Troy Streiff, Sol p. Kyle Hunter, Ken 1:51; 195. Tyler Brown, Ken p. Daniel Rosin, Sol 1:36; 220. Zach Koziczkowski, Ken, p. Dalton Best, Sol :28; 285. John Alexander, Sol, dec. Jake Dragseth, Ken 6-2.