Skyview's Michaela Hutchison, top, wrestles Soldotna's Meg Pruett at the Skyview Invitational last month. Hutchison has a chance to become the first girl in the U.S. to win a high school state wrestling title competing against boys this weekend.
Photos by M. Scott Moon
The biggest wrestling meet of the year kicks off today, and there could be big things in store as the state’s top 4A wrestlers meet at Chugiak High School for the state championship tournament.
“We’re real excited,” said Skyview coach Neldon Gardner. “We’re getting ready to head up there and end the season in a positive manner.”
The Panthers certainly have plenty to be excited about. Skyview is one of the top teams in the state and is in the running for a top-three finish, and a pair of Skyview wrestlers, 103-pounder Michaela Hutchison and 135-pounder Eli Hutchison, are on the verge of some remarkable individual accomplishments.
Michaela, a sophomore, has the potential to become the first girl in the country to win a state wrestling title competing with boys while Eli, a senior, is poised to become the first wrestler in state history to finish his high school career without losing a match in Alaska.
Gardner said his team wasn’t focused on individual records as much as individual performances. Everyone in the mat room will be pulling for the Hutchisons, but each wrestler also will be working toward his or her own goals.
“Wrestling is such an individual sport. We’re there for the team, and we really focus on the team aspect, but we also tell the kids it’s an individual sport. You have to be there for yourself as well. You put too much into it, too much blood, sweat and tears, if you’re not in it for yourself, you’re in it for the wrong reasons,” Gardner said.
Kenai Central High School will send six wrestlers to the meet after the Kardinals didn’t qualify a single wrestler a season ago. Leading the way for Kenai is Michael Dormady, who scored a major upset to win the conference title at 189 pounds last week.
“We had just a terrific region tournament. We’re still riding high,” said Kenai coach David Boyle.
While Dormady and 275-pounder Mitchell Canavan enter the tournament as conference champions, the rest of Kenai’s qualifiers are young and still gaining experience.
“We’ll get in there, see what we can do, go have some fun and look ahead to future years,” Boyle said.
Soldotna has three wrestlers making the trip to Chugiak, and Homer will send five.
Gardner said that while Wasilla and South Anchorage have an edge in the team competition due to their depth, at the state meet, anything can happen. When the Panthers won a state title in 1999, the team had placed second in the region.
“Odder things have happened in the past. There’s 18 or 19 other teams. We could knock them off if we hit it just right. If we place eight to 10 kids in the top six, we could be in the top three,” Gardner said.
“Sitka has a good team, so does Colony and Chugiak. Kodiak is looking as strong as I’ve seen them in years. West Valley is about like us, with 11 or 12 going to state and four or five really good kids ranked No. 1 or 2 ... I just don’t know how it’s going to shake out.”
Alaska School Activities Association/First National Bank State 4A Wrestling Meet
Friday and Saturday at Chugiak High School
Kenai Peninsula Qualifiers
103 Michaela Hutchison, Skyview; John Hughes, Kenai.
112 Alex Janorschke, Skyview; Chris Osbekoff, Kenai.
119 Robert Brymer, Homer; Tom Appelhanz, Homer.
125 Simeon Daigle, Homer; Luke Morse, Skyview.
135 Eli Hutchison, Skyview.
140 Shane Strausbaugh, Skyview; Cody Booth, Kenai.
145 Clark Buffington, Skyview.
152 Michael Burlison, Skyview; Erick Morris, Soldotna; Tristan Brymer, Homer.
160 Eddie Buffington, Skyview; Jaron Dambacher, Kenai.
171 Eric Rodgers, Skyview.
189 Michael Dormady, Kenai; Josh Carlon, Skyview.
215 Nick Hann, Skyview; Jose Gomez, Soldotna.
275 Mitchell Canavan, Kenai; Matt Strieby, Soldotna; Michael Fielding, Homer.
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