As a compelling preview of next weekend’s Region III meet in Kodiak, the North-South tournament held Friday and Saturday at Soldotna Prep School offered teams one last opportunity to tune up for the big show.
“This time of year, coaches usually know where everyone is at,” said Soldotna head coach Neldon Gardner. “For now, we’re just healing up for those that have been injured, and trying to get in competition for the healthy.”
With seven teams in the mix — five Division I teams and two Division II — the round-robin format decided the team championship with pools of six wrestlers in each weight class, each wrestling the other five. The one with the best head-to-head record is crowned class champion.
In the end, Colony prevailed over Wasilla in the team race with 297 points, 25 ahead of the Warriors. Homer took third with 169 points, Soldotna was fourth with 150.5, Palmer was fifth with 137.5, Kenai Central was sixth with 118 and Nikiski was seventh with 40.
The Knights claimed six individual champions, while Wasilla owned three.
As the top Division II school, the Homer Mariners took home four individual titles in an impressive display of strength against the bigger schools. Homer got individual titles from Wayne Newman at 126 pounds, Luciano Fasulo at 132, Mose Hayes at 138 and Kyle Wells at 220.
Homer assistant coach Chris Perk said all four tourney champs earned their accolades with the type of gritty, never-give-up attitudes that have helped the Mariners net two straight Kachemak Conference crowns. Homer is gunning for a third straight next week in Seward.
“We wanted some good, hard competition,” Perk said. “We need to see the best wrestlers in the state.”
Fasulo went 5-0 in his weight class over the weekend to extend his undefeated season to 37 straight wins. Also, Newman went 4-0 over the weekend, Hayes was 5-0 and Wells went 3-0.
Soldotna’s lone individual champion was Gideon Hutchison at 120 pounds. Hutchison pinned Homer’s Seth Inama to claim the crown in the four-person class.
Also for the Stars, Bechler Metcalf placed second at 152 pounds, losing an 8-2 decision to Wasilla’s Andrue Shepersky in his only match, and Melvin Lloyd took third at 285 pounds with a 4-1 weekend record.
Kenai’s lone champion was Byron Dunham at 195 pounds. Dunham completed a 5-0 weekend with two pins. Teammate Seth Kruse went 1-1 at 220 pounds to place third, and although Jacob Grant pinned overall champion Brandon Holmes of Colony in the 285-pound division, he still finished second with a 4-1 record.
Kardinals head coach Stan Steffensen said the weekend provided Dunham and the rest of the team a perfect opportunity to prepare for next weekend’s Northern Lights Conference meet in Kodiak.
“This was a smorgasbord,” Steffensen said. “Hats off to Neldon (Gardner) and (SoHi assistant coach) Joe Cudd for the good job they do. Our healthy kids got a lot out of the matches.”
At Soldotna Prep School
Team results — 1. Colony, 297 points; 2. Wasilla, 272; 3. Homer, 169; 4. Soldotna, 150.5; 5. Palmer, 137.5; 6. Kenai Central, 118; 7. Nikiski, 40.
98 — 1. Jack Fuller, Wasilla; 2. Garrett Blydenburgh, Palmer; 3. Chandler Jasper, Wasilla; 4. Michael Draper, Colony; 5. Jerzy Ritz, Colony.
106 — 1. Jared Hopkins, Colony; 2. Zach Loutzenhiser, Colony; 3. Rett Gallagher, Colony; 4. Logan Craig, Soldotna; 5. Charles Jones, Wasilla; 6. Tristen Pendergrass, Palmer.
113 — 1. Marcus Riedinger, Colony; 2. Aidan Ehmann, Colony; 3. Wesley Fraker, Wasilla; 4. Jacob Harvey, Colony; 5. Ben Booth, Soldotna.
120 — 1. Gideon Hutchison, Soldotna; 2. Seth Inama, Homer; 3. Vincent Cramer, Colony; 4. Alexander Logsdon, Wasilla.
126 — 1. Wayne Newman, Homer; 2. Isaac Rodman, Wasilla; 3. Micah Mathis, Wasilla; 4. Wade McGann, Palmer; 5. Jeremi Zeedar-Boeck, Palmer.
132 — 1. Luciano Fasulo, Homer; 2. Hunter Hayes, Wasilla; 3. Quinten Sereyko, Colony; 4. Owen Manley, Palmer; 5. Mason Payne, Nikiski; 6. Jaden Caple, Palmer.
138 — 1. Mose Hayes, Homer; 2. Sterling Uhlenhake, Wasilla; 3. Brice Lestenkof-Chapman, Colony; 4. Tucker Vann, Kenai; 5. Jalen Tosten, Colony; 6. Jayden Christianson, Palmer.
145 — 1. Trace Severson, Colony; 2. Gregory Dean, Wasilla; 3. Ethan Kraus, Wasilla; 4. Daniel Colley, Colony; 5. Joshua Bradshaw, Homer; 6. Michael Godwin, Palmer.
152 — 1. Andrue Shepersky, Wasilla; 2. Bechler Metcalf, Soldotna; 3. Hunter Bleakney, Palmer; 4. Asa Barnes, Palmer.
160 — 1. Rowdy Bailey, Wasilla; 2. Jason Watkins, Palmer; 3. Corey Dahlberg, Wasilla; 4. Cody Gamble, Colony; 5. Ethan Bleakney, Palmer; 6. Noah White, Colony.
170 — 1. Eric Christy, Colony; 2. Levi Farris, Palmer; 3. Chris Cudaback, Homer; 4. Hudson Metcalf, Soldotna; 5. Frank Urbano, Colony.
182 — 1. Caleb Hopkins, Colony; 2. Jeff Glynn, Palmer; 3. Coa Gamble, Colony.
195 — 1. Byron Dunham, Kenai; 2. Christian Kurka, Palmer; 3. Simon Ganchenko, Colony; 4. Jeffrey Palmer, Wasilla; 5. Tyler Litke, Nikiski; 6. Ricky Westover, Colony.
220 — 1. Kyle Wells, Homer; 2. Cole Wilson, Colony; 3. Seth Kruse, Kenai; 4. Amos Bartlett, Wasilla.
285 — 1. Brandon Holmes, Colony; 2. Jacob Grant, Kenai; 3. Melvin Lloyd, Soldotna; 4. Richard Brock, Homer; 5. Austin Reeves, Soldotna; 6. Elisha Martin, Wasilla.