Kenai's Michael Dormady supports Soldotna's Ethan Waters after beating him Saturday night in the 189-pound championship at the Northern Lights Conference tourney at Skyview High School.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
Michael Dormady knows what it’s like to be a champion.
Having been a member of Kenai’s last three state championship football teams, playing linebacker on two of them, the senior is still seeking his first state wrestling title.
The way he’s able to seamlessly transfer his tackling skills to the mat, he may just do it.
After pinning his way through his first three matches in only 2:54 at the Northern Lights Conference tournament on Friday, Dormady used two powerful upper body takedowns in edging Soldotna’s Ethan Waters, 5-3, for the 189-pound title on Saturday.
“Wrap them up and put them on their butt. It’s part of my mentality,” said Dormady, who claimed his second consecutive conference crown. “I use wrestling to get in shape for football. So, all my tackling comes right from here.”
Also capturing conference titles and heading to next weekend’s state tournament in Chugiak were Soldotna’s Erick Morris and Matthew Strieby and Homer’s Simeon Daigle. Colony won the team title with 326.5 points, ahead of Wasilla (288.5) and Kodiak (237).
Quite familiar with each other, Dormady and Waters have squared off at least four times this season, according to Kenai coach Dave Boyle, with Dormady prevailing every time.
Saturday’s championship bout was no different, although it was a lot closer.
After owning a 2-1 lead after the first period, Waters escaped only 20 seconds into the middle frame, knotting the score at 2 entering the final two minutes.
A Dormady escape made it 3-2 and 30 seconds later he charged Waters, grasping his upper torso and spearing him to the mat for a 5-2 advantage.
“His takedowns, it’s all about the football tackle for him,” Boyle said.
Waters cut the deficit to 5-3 with a late escape but failed to take Dormady down in the closing seconds.
“Ethan Waters has been coming on throughout the season and he’s turned into a pretty terrific wrestler,” Boyle said.
Last year, Dormady entered the conference tournament as the third seed and knocked off the top two contenders en route to his first conference title.
“I knew there was a chance I could be beat,” he said. “I didn’t want to be an upset.”
SoHi coach Sarge Truesdell has also noticed Waters improving throughout the season.
“A week ago when they wrestled and Dormady kind of controlled the whole thing, I didn’t know if we’d be able to be in that match,” he said. “And Ethan wrestled, I thought, almost perfect.”
Morris (152 pounds) has been to state the last three years, winning only one match each time.
This year he’s expecting to do better.
Recording pins in his first three matches, the senior owned a commanding 9-0 lead on Kodiak’s Jeremiah Olsen in the championship before pinning him with 39 seconds left in the contest
“I was looking to make a point that I’m making it,” Morris said. “I’m going to go to state and I’m going to take it.”
Owning a 2-0 lead after the first, Morris quickly scored two more points on a reversal to begin the second and dominated the rest of the way before pinning Olsen.
“That was a really impressive performance,” Truesdell said. “He has really come a long way.
“I think some of these kids are tough and he makes them look like they’re not as tough,” he added. “He can wear somebody out because he’s so tall and lanky. He works really hard so he’s in great shape anyway.”
Strieby’s victory over Wasilla’s Jody Serrano was a bit easier as he held a 4-1 lead before pinning him in 1:24.
Soldotna's Erick Morris controls Kodiak's Casey Katchinska on his way to winning the championship in the 152-pound category Saturday night at Skyview.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
“I didn’t really know what to do because I hadn’t wrestled him. I didn’t know what to expect,” said Strieby (215), who now has 24 pins on the season. “So, I just went out there full fire and attacked him.”
Finishing second in the conference as a heavyweight last year, the junior injured himself at state and lost both of his matches. One year later, he’s hoping for redemption.
“I’m thinking I’d like to place top three in the state. I’m going to try,” he said.
Daigle, a defending state champion ranked No. 1 by akmat.org, won 14-3 and 8-0 in his first two matches after earning a bye in the first round. His championship bout was a bit tougher.
Scoring an early takedown for a 2-0 edge, Palmer’s Wes Mills escaped with seven seconds remaining in the first, trimming the lead to 2-1 entering the second.
Daigle (130) then allowed Mills to escape with nearly 45 seconds left in the second, tying the match at 2, before he also escaped only 13 seconds into the third and held on for the tight victory.
“I made some mistakes out there. Just minor ones,” said Daigle, a conference champion his freshman year. “It could have been easy but I gave him the opportunity to scramble with me and he was able to do that.”
Finishing second from the Kenai Peninsula were Kenai’s Mitchell Canavan (285) and Homer sophomore Ben Daigle (112), both of whom lost in overtime.
In the penultimate and perhaps most exciting match of the day, second-ranked James Savage of Colony upended third-ranked Canavan, 9-7, in the extra session.
Trailing 4-2 with under a minute to go in the second period, Canavan escaped and added a takedown just before the buzzer for a 5-4 lead.
When Savage took Canavan down, evening the score at 6-6 with 56 seconds left, Canavan fought his way from the ground for another escape and was on his way to a victory when both grapplers landed out of bounds with 10 seconds remaining.
Inching backwards out of the face off, Canavan was called for stalling with five seconds left and Savage took him down only 23 seconds into overtime.
“This boy was heavily favored and Mitchell just wrestled just a terrific match,” Boyle said. “We couldn’t be more proud of him.
“Generally, the heavyweight matches are a little bit slower, but that was an exciting, wild ride,” he added.
Trailing 1-0 to Colony’s Kyle Wilson, Daigle was awarded a stalling point with 15 seconds left, sending the match to sudden death overtime, where neither player managed a point.
In the second extra frame, Daigle chose the top after winning the coin toss but couldn’t keep Wilson down as he escaped for a 2-1 lead. Daigle then started down in the automatic third OT and came close to escaping, but couldn’t free himself from Wilson’s grasp.
“Those guys are battling,” said Homer coach Chris Perk. “Next week’s what it’s all about, really.”
Other placers heading to the state tournament include Skyview’s Michaela Hutchison (112, fourth), Alex Janorschke (119, fourth), Luke Morse (135, third), Alex Rodgers (152, fifth) and Russ Bacon (215, fifth); Kenai’s Freddie John (130, sixth), Cody Booth (140, fourth), Jaron Dambacher (160, fifth) and Kevin Krause (171, fifth); Soldotna’s Steven Burlison (140, sixth), David Japhet (171 fourth), Nathan Strieby (285, fourth) and Les Baker (285, third); and Homer’s Alex Hediger (119, sixth), Robbie Brymer (125, third), Tris Brymer (145, fourth) and Brandon Weaver (152, sixth).
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