The lights dimmed in the Anchorage Christian Schools gym on Saturday night for the championship rounds of the 1-2-3A State wrestling tournament, and with it went the final minutes of the Skyview wrestling program.
The Panthers finished fourth in the team standings with 138.5 points after Saturday’s action was complete, the highest placing of the Kenai Peninsula schools. Bethel won with 217 total points, while Kotzebue finished second, 49.5 behind. Valdez took third with 152.5 points.
Two state champions were crowned for the final time — sophomore Seth Hutchison in the 113-pound bout and junior Austin Craig in the 106-pound bout. Hutchison was the defending 98-pound champion, but for Craig, it was his first state title, making him the 21st and final Skyview state champion.
“They both wrestled to their potential, and anything can happen in state finals,” said Skyview head coach Neldon Gardner. “They came out mentally and physically ready to wrestle. They did an awesome job, and I’m really happy for them.”
For Gardner, Saturday marked the final time he would inhabit the sideline as a Skyview coach, going out as the only head wrestling coach the school has had in its 23 years, and he went out with a victory.
“It’s been a long, long road,” Gardner said. “I sure wish we could come back and do it again another year, but it is what it is. We’ll be moving forward and the kids will end up wrestling somewhere, and I’ll probably end up coaching somewhere.”
Not surprisingly, and appropriately enough, it was a Hutchison kid that won the final Skyview state championship bout.
“Seth is just one of those kids that’s had a lot of years and knows wrestling,” Gardner said. “He got into some scramble situations that your average kid would not have got out of.”
Hutchison faced Bethel’s Gage Hoffman in the 113-pound final, and with his family watching from the side — his father, Mike, his state champion sister Michaela and his 4-time state champion brother Eli — Hutchison secured a 3-0 win and his second straight state crown.
“I knew I was going to be a state champion,” Hutchison said about the final two minutes of his match. “In the first period, I got a Russian tie, and hooked my leg and got him in a Miracle for two points. In the second I got an escape, and the third period I just held him down for two minutes.”
With the title, Hutchison kept his chances alive of matching what his brother, Eli, accomplished in 2006 — winning four straight state championships.
“That would make me really happy,” Hutchison said. “I’ll be going to the big schools next year.”
Hutchison didn’t specify which school he will be attending next year, but whichever one it is, it will be gaining a valuable member.
Hutchison’s teammate, Craig, also faced a Bethel opponent — Tecumseh Hensley — in his title match, and came away with a 5-0 victory to claim his maiden state victory.
“Feels amazing,” Craig said after his win. “I had a tough time before my match, and I didn’t even know if I would make it into the finals.”
Craig scored two points in the first round on an escape, then another two on a takedown, which gave him enough of a cushion that he could play defense in the last round.
“I was just holding him down (in the third round), coach was telling me to not give up a point and I didn’t,” he said.
The third Peninsula athlete that nabbed a state crown on Saturday was Nikiski sophomore Luke Johnson in the 195-pound final, who made quick work of his opponent.
Facing Bethel’s Scott Carpenter, Johnson wrestled aggressively from the opening whistle and put a pin on him to win the title after only 46 seconds of action. It was a much different style of match than the 3-0 loss to his older brother, Lincoln, at last year’s state tournament.
“It feels good,” Johnson said. “Basically going into it, I watched some of (Carpenter’s) matches prior, and I knew he had a strong upper body and would try to throw. I was just waiting to see what he would do and counter that.”
Before the match started, Johnson knelt down on one knee and touched his golden shoes for good luck, and as soon as he got the pin, he leapt up and pointed skyward.
“Coming into this weekend I felt strong, and I think I was ready,” he said.
Nikiski head coach Adam Anders said that he was pleased with Johnson’s match, noting that not many 195-pound matches end with first-round pins.
“I think Luke was ready for the match, he knew he didn’t have to make any drastic changes,” Anders said. “Just work hard and wrestle the way he knows how to wrestle, and that’s what he did and got the job done. He showed really good maturity and composure, and wrestled hard.”
Anders expressed his happiness with the Bulldogs, a team that finished tied for 13th place in the team standings with host ACS. Both schools had 53 points.
“We had a great first day,” Anders said. “The second day was pretty brutal, we had some things that didn’t go our way, but I’m not disappointed in the performance.
“This is a great group of wrestlers and I’m already excited for next year with these guys.”
Homer accomplished its goal of a top-10 team finish, placing seventh with 85.5 points, and head coach Chris Perk said he was pleased that his team was able to jump from 17th on Friday to seventh in the standings on Saturday.
“Yesterday wasn’t a stellar day for us,” Perk said. “We had a couple of opportunities that got away from us, it would’ve really helped if we had won those. But today, the team battled back.”
Senior Calvin Johnson led the Mariners with a third-place finish, topping Rainier Marquez of Unalaska in the 113-pound third-place match. The match was scored 20-4 after two rounds, and Johnson was credited with a technical fall.
Seward junior Howie Hubbard also competed for a state championship, executing three pins in three matches en route to the 285-pound final, but was pinned by Mt. Edgecumbe’s Paul Johanson only 36 seconds and took the silver medal. The Seahawks finished 16th in the team standings with 51 points.
Class 1-2-3A state wrestling tournament
Team results — 1. Bethel, 217 points; 2. Kotzebue, 167.5; 3. Valdez, 152.5; 4. Skyview, 138.5; 5. Nome, 136; 6. Houston, 112.5; 7. Homer, 85.5; 8. Glennallen, 70.5; 9. Petersburg, 69.5; 10. Mt. Edgecumbe, 65; 11. Dillingham, 59; 12. Barrow, 56; T13. ACS, 53; T13. Nikiski, 53; 15. Eielson, 52; 16. Seward, 51; 17. Craig, 47; 18. Hoonah, 44; 19. Unalaska, 43.5; 20. Thorne Bay, 36.5; 21. Cordova, 34; 22. WHS, 29; 23. Sitka, 28; 24. Metlakatla, 24; 25. Aniak, 20; 26. Hutchison, 17; 27. Pilot Station, 16; 28. Napaskiak, 14; 29. Su Valley, 13; 30. Shaktoolik, 9; T31. Akiachak, 4; T31. Grace, 4; T33. Bristol Bay, 3; T33. Galena, 3; T33. Haines, 3; T33. Pelican, 3; T33. Shishmaref, 3; T38. Newhalen, 2; T38. Nunapitchik, 2; T38. Unalakleet, 2.
98 pounds — 1. Gavin Maslen, Glen; 2. Tristan Evan, Beth; 3. Jared Virgin, Glen; 4. Buddy Stalmach, StP; 5. Everson Paniptchuk, Shak; 6. Deirdre Creed, MtE.
106 — 1. Austin Craig, Sky; 2. Tecumseh Hensley, Beth; 3. Alex Gray, Nome; 4. Daryl Toyomara, StP; 5. Jared Brant, Hom; 6. Johnathan Nelson, Bar.
113 — 1. Seth Hutchison, Sky; 2. Gage Hoffman, Beth; 3. Calvin Johnson, Hom; 4. Rainier Marquez, Una; 5. Shannon LeMay, ACS; 6. Moses Jackson, MtE.
120 — 1. Aaron Drake, Hou; 2. Brettlyn Reich, Kotz; 3. Terrance Annogiuk, Sew; 4. Avery Chiklak, Beth; 5. Ryan Winter, Sky; 6. Colton Sieh, Kotz.
126 — 1. Leif Erikson, Nome; 2. Emmanuel Budke, Hoo; 3. Carlie McIntyre, Beth; 4. Cody Greene, Val; 5. Grant Valliquette, Sky; 6. Wesley Gilroy, ACS.
132 — 1. Nate Ezell, Eie; 2. Josh Mendenhall, Beth; 3. Aaron Olsen, Beth; 4. Martin Gardiner, Dill; 5. Jerome Williams, Nap; 6. Timmy Woo, Hom.
138 — 1. Emery Booshu, Nome; 2. Avery Coplin, Beth; 3. Keefe McIntosh, Val; 4. Spencer Woods, Kotz; 5. Wyatt Patten, Craig; 6. John Brooks, Pet.
145 — 1. Gary Eakin, Kotz; 2. Brian Allen, Val; 3. Jaren Sumuang, Sit; 4. James Horner, Nome; 5. Bailey Blumentritt, Sky; 6. Bret Martinsen, Pet.
152 — 1. Luther Jenson, ThB; 2. Ryan Radmer, Hou; 3. Adam Downing, Val; 4. Koy Johnson, Kotz; 5. Pedro Ochoa, Hom; 6. Michael Stangel, Nik.
160 — 1. Isaac Deaton, Val; 2. Tucker Thain, Craig; 3. Devon Phillips, Kotz; 4. Junyor Erikson, Nome; 5. Josh Hamberger, Cor; 6. Kalen McIntosh, Val.
170 — 1. Austin Rake, Val; 2. Torsten Skaflestad, Hoo; 3. Patrick Francisco, Beth; 4. Ashton Mahan, Sky; 5. Jeffrey Rooney, WHS; 6. Brian Nicholson, ACS.
182 — 1. Josh Roetman, Kotz; 2. Cody Howard, Cor; 3. Dylan Magnusen, Una; 4. Joseph White, Glen; 5. Grady Austin, Nome; 6. Sean Lang, Hou.
195 — 1. Luke Johnson, Nik; 2. Scott Carpenter, Beth; 3. Oliver Hoogendorn, Nome; 4. Sage Hill, Sky; 5. Josh Russell, Aniak; 6. Stefan Green, PilSt.
220 — 1. Luke Wagner, Hou; 2. Thomas Hoseth, Dill; 3. Stephen Hyatt, Kotz; 4. Walker Stephens, Hou; 5. Jordan Reynolds, Hom; 6. Calvin Goodson, Eie.
285 — 1. Paul Johanson, MtE; 2. Howie Hubbard, Sew; 3. Tristan Alexander, Met; 4. Tyler Scott, ACS; 5. Weston Reeves, Bar; 6. Marshall Pinard, SuV.