Believing he was trailing by one point in the closing moments of the 130-pound state title match, Homer senior Simeon Daigle’s normally aggressive nature took over.
“I thought for sure I had to get a takedown to win it,” he said. “It was just all go in my mind.”
Unbeknownst to the defending state champion, though, the match was actually tied. Not realizing he was awarded an equalizing stalling point with five seconds left, Daigle attacked Dimond’s Frank Holdburg, who caught him and put him on his back just before the buzzer in claiming his first state title with an 8-4 decision.
Daigle’s miscue may have cost him another crown.
“I thought I was down by one. So, I pushed a little too hard and he caught me in a head and arm again,” Daigle said. “I would have gone to overtime.”
After a scoreless first two periods, Daigle went up 2-0 on an escape and a stalling point but Holdburg quickly jumped ahead 4-2 following a takedown and two near fall points with 45 seconds left.
At that point, the excitement was only brewing.
Daigle escaped, trimming the deficit to 4-3 and continued shooting at Holdburg’s legs before he was finally awarded a second stalling point, tying the match at 4.
Unfortunately, Daigle didn’t hear or see the ref signal the point. The crowd’s roar also went unnoticed.
“When you’re in a match, it’s all noise,” he said. “(With) headgear on you can’t hear much ... Everything’s muffled.”
Needing a takedown in his mind, Daigle attacked instead of sitting back.
“I would have gone to overtime,” he said. “Instead I pushed it because I thought I had no other choice. Oh well.”
While he wasn’t visibly shaken by the loss, Daigle was disappointed with Holdburg’s two takedowns after having beaten him 8-0 and 9-2 earlier this season.
“He took me down in a head and arm,” he said, “you learn to defend in junior high.”
Cruising through his first two matches Friday, Daigle pounded East’s Brandon Bahnke, 19-5, and pinned Pierce Stowman, of West Valley, in 4:45.
He then earned a 5-4 decision over Palmer’s Wes Mills in the semifinals, only seven days after beating him by a point for the conference championship.
“A state champ last year and I’m sure I’ll be mad next week,” he said. “But right now it is what it is.”
Despite the sour ending to a stellar career that included a third-place finish his freshman year, fourth in his sophomore campaign, first last year and now second, Daigle focused on the positive aspects of it.
“It’s been a good run. It’s been a lot of fun, a lot of hard work,” he said. “It’s been real helpful for me overall, a good character-builder.”
His coach, Chris Perk, would agree.
“He had a great career. Simeon Daigle’s a great kid. He’s one that you want to coach,” Perk said. “I think he felt a lot of that pressure. He likes being the underdog. He’s very modest.
“It’s tough being a two-time state champ,” he added. “There’s not very many of them around and that’s the reason why. It’s tough to repeat.”
Baker, Dormady take third
Qualifying for state his freshman year, Soldotna’s Les Baker watched from the sidelines last season.
“Sophomore year I decided not to do it,” he explained. “Really it was nerves. The nerves before a match. I couldn’t handle it.”
After his performance on Saturday, consider Baker a lock to return next season.
Pinned by second-seeded James Savage of Colony in Friday’s semifinals, the sixth-seeded junior decisioned South’s Josh Kirn, 3-0, and then earned a hard-fought 5-3 victory over No. 5 Jake Maxon of Juneau-Douglas for a third-place finish.
“I feel a lot different. I think I performed pretty well,“ an elated Baker said. “Overall I was ranked about third or fourth for the whole season. I ended up where I was supposed to be.”
Escaping for a 1-0 lead with 30 seconds left in the middle period of his match with Maxon, Baker nearly scored a takedown at the buzzer but couldn’t get completely behind him.
A reversal by Maxon early in third gave him a one-point lead until Baker also notched a reversal from the ground and added two near fall points in securing the victory.
For someone who took a season off, Baker’s goals for next season are even higher.
“To get first. I’m hoping for first,” he said with a smile. “Coming from zero to three is definitely a big motivator.”
Seeded third at 189, Kenai senior Michael Dormady knew he’d most likely run into either one or both of the top two wrestlers in his class.
Unfortunately, he was right.
Dormady lost 9-3 to second-seed and eventual second-place finisher Jeremy Fulk of West Valley in Friday’s semifinals. But after pinning his first two opponents Friday in a combined 1:50, he reverted back to form in battling for third place by pinning North Pole’s Chris Bressler in 4:31 and Lathrop’s Kent Osborn in 4:43.
“I knew if I wanted to wrestle for first and second, I knew I was going to have to go through Fulk or (Cayle) Byers. I knew it was tough coming in,” Dormady said. “I wasn’t very angry after my match. I knew I could have done better against Fulk, but I came back and took third.”
It wasn’t easy, though.
A takedown by Dormady with 27 seconds left in the second period knotted the score at 2 entering the final frame.
He then nearly pinned Osborn with 50 seconds remaining but the junior from Lathrop rolled over on Dormady appearing to take control. But Dormady immediately tilted the momentum in his direction by rolling onto Osborn and pinning him to the ground, where he held him for nearly 30 seconds before the ref slammed his hand to the mat.
“I knew I had to do something big to win because it was a tight match. Stalling could have put it either way,” Dormady explained. “I finally locked up a tight throw, threw it. He rolled me through but I knew I needed to get off my back.
“It was all squeeze,” he added of finally securing Osborn to the mat. “No matter how tired I was. I was exhausted.”
After not placing in his first trip to state as a junior last season, Dormady seemed impressed with his resiliency.
“I knew if I wanted to be at third, I had to step up my game and come after these guys a little more,” he said.
Hutchison places fourth, Ben Daigle fifth
After finishing second her freshman year and becoming the first female state wrestling champion in the country last season in the 103-pound weight class, Skyview junior Michaela Hutchison had an even more challenging time at 112 this season.
With trials and tribulations that come with jumping a class, though, she still managed a fourth-place finish.
Knotted at two in the final period of her third-place match with top-seeded Anthony Ricketts of Service, Hutchison fought her way from the ground for an escape and a 3-2 advantage with 1:25 left.
But Ricketts’ strength and quickness was too much for Hutchison to handle as he scored four takedowns down the stretch for an 11-6 decision.
“He started picking it up and just got the momentum going his way,” said Skyview coach Neldon Gardner. “That happens.
“A lot of pressure for her to come back and win a title after last year,“ he added. “She puts pressure on herself. We put pressure on her as coaches. And she’s done well this year. I’ve got no complaints with Michaela.”
Following her loss to eventual second-place finisher Aaron Boss of Colony on Friday, No. 5 Hutchison fought her way back in the consolation bracket by technical falling Chugiak’s Nich Wharton in 4:30, pinning Lathrop’s Jeremy Simmons in 1:28 and edging third-seeded Ben Daigle of Homer, 2-0.
“It’s very respectable,“ Gardner said of her finish. “There’s good kids around the state. She wrestled hard. She beat Daigle in the wrestle-backs and she hadn’t beat him earlier in the year.”
The younger Daigle met an even more heartbreaking defeat than his brother.
Facing second-seed and eventual champion Kyle Wilson of Colony for the second time in the last week, Daigle suffered the same fate again Friday.
The sophomore was penalized for locking hands in the fourth overtime in falling, 6-5, to Wilson, who edged him 2-1 in three extra sessions in a Northern Lights Conference championship contest.
Daigle then lost to Hutchison and defeated Ketchikan’s Nick Martin, 2-1, for fifth place.
“(Saturday) I just wrestled terrible because ... I was kind of bumming,” Daigle said. “I just wasn’t in it after losing that one.”
Breaking his hand the week before regions and unable to attend state last year, the final match was a bittersweet moment for the youngster.
“I was really hoping to make the finals. I was real disappointed,” he said. “I’ve got all next year. I’m going to be at least 119, probably 125 next year.”
Morris, Japhet earn fifth
Expecting to capture a title in his fourth trip to state, fourth-seeded senior Erick Morris left Chugiak a crestfallen man.
A 152-pound conference champion, Soldotna’s Morris lost a tough 8-7 decision to No. 5 Matt Barry on Friday and after topping Steven Dyer of Juneau-Douglas, 11-8, he fell 4-3 to third-seeded Danny Tol of Chugiak.
“That crushed me for a long time,” Morris said of the setback to Barry. “I wasn’t expecting to lose in the quarterfinals. I was expecting to make at least to the semis, if not to the championship.
“No, I’m not real happy right now,” he added. “I’m happy that I placed because I haven’t placed in the last three years, but I expected more of myself.”
Overcoming his deflated spirits, Morris valiantly fought back in the fifth-place match by beating Dimond’s Gerald Pestrikoff, 3-0, with three back points in the closing seconds of Saturday’s deadlocked match.
“It was pretty tough. We were pretty even. We’re both good leg-riders and stuff,” Morris said. “I had a little bit more experience than he did and it proves, too.”
Also taking fifth place was Soldotna junior David Japhet (171), who lost to eventual state champion Danny Kuhn of Dimond, 11-3, in the quarterfinals and third-place finisher Tremain Benton of Palmer, 10-5, in the consolation semifinals.
However, he used an early takedown and two escapes in defeating Juneau-Douglas’ Samson Keery in his final match.
Another SoHi junior, Matthew Strieby, placed sixth after losing 16-7 to West Valley’s Jay Phillips.
Matthew Carroll can be reached at matthew.carroll @peninsulaclarion.com.
State wrestling championships
Friday, Saturday at Chugiak
Team scores: 1. Colony, 229.5; 2. Chugiak, 170; 3. South, 128; 4. Wasilla, 116; 5. Juneau Douglas and Dimon, 102; 7. Palmer, 93; 8. East, 88; 9. Lathrop, 87; 10. North Pole, 10; 11. West Valley, 80; 12. Kodiak, 77.5; 13. Soldotna, 57.5; 14. West, 48; 15. Homer and Kenai Central, 36; 17. Service, 22.5; 18. Ketchikan, 21; 19. Eagle River, 18; 20. Skyview, 17.5; 21. Bartlett, 5; 22. Sitka, 0.
103 Nathan Hoffer, EHS p. Chase Montgomery, COL, 1:53
112 Kyle Wilson, COL, d. Aaron Boss, COL, 4-3
119 Alan Bartelli, WAS vs. Josh West, COL, 5-0
125 Jimmy Eggermeyer, KOD d. Mike Chafin, WAS, 5-0
130 Frank Holdburg, DIM d. Simeon Daigle, HOM, 8-4
135 Hollan Gravley, COL p. Chris Brewster, SOU, 1:29
140 Duane Carpenter, WAS p. Josh Witcher, NP, 1:03
145 Max Rosefiguera, WST d. Quincy Voris, CHU, 9-4
152 Zach Shelley, DIM d. Matt Barry, JDHS, 7-5
160 Nolan McBryde, CHU d. Mike Hunsicker, SOU, 10-6
171 Jesse Amos, SOU d. Danny Kuhn, DIM, 9-4
189 Cayle Byers, CHU d. Jeremy Fulk, WV, 3-1
215 Dustin Baxter, d. Andrew Wilson, EHS, 5-4
275 Max Collins, NP d. James Savage, COL, 5-3
103 Jessee Romero, PAL d. Charles Coisman, COL 4-2
112 Anthony Ricketts, SER d. Michella Hutchison, 11-6
119 Grant Sullivan, CHU d. Luke Shelley, DIM, 4-2
125 Dante Santos, JDHS d. Lipho Thirakul, EHS, 8-6
130 Marshal Carlyle, PAL d. Wes Mills, PAL, 9-0
135 Lucas Fried, KOD d. Zach Baldwin, CHU, 6-0
140 Nick Stahler, PAL d. Justin Martel, COL 9-7
145 Levi Jutila, NP d. Levi Kruger, COL, 3-2
152 Danny Tol, CHU d. Brian Hunsicker, SOU, 3-2
160 Nathan Williamson, SOU m.d. Jordan Savland, JDHS, 9-1
171 Tremain Benton, PAL d. Al Cratty, KOD, 5-4
189 Michael Dormady, KEN, p. Kent Osborn, LAT, 4:43
215 Rory McBryde, CHU, p. Eric Fan, COL, 4:13
275 Les Baker, SOL, d. Jake Mason, JDHS, 5-4
103 Skyler Moore, d. Eric Tupper, LAT, 7-6
112 Ben Daigle, HOM d. Nick Martin, Ket, 2-1
119 Joe Hughes, LAT d. Dustin Maxwell, EHS, 12-5
125 Zach Beauchamp, COL d. Stephen Kichurra, CHU, 3-2
130 Bobby Hicks, LAT d. Danny Lyles, WAS, 7-2
135 Kyle Demientieff, LAT m.d. Steve Jutila, NP, 9-1
140 Levi Williams, ER p. Tom Eller, PAL 4:59
145 Carson Roberts, WST p. Jon Jensen, WAS, 1:57
152 Erick Morris, SOL d. Gerald Pestrikoff, DIM, 3-0
160 Westley Gagnon, WAS d. Gary Anthony, 4-2
171 David Japhet, Sol d. Samson Kenney, JDHS, 4-3
189 Tyler Zimmerman, JDHS d. Chris Bressler, NP, 3-2
215 Jay Phillips, WV m.d. Matthew Strieby, SOL, 16-7
275 Josh Kirn, SOU d. Gavin Lorens, WV, 7-3
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