The Soldotna High School wrestling team visited Nikiski Tuesday night and came away with an exciting 43-32 dual meet win over the Bulldogs.
The outcome of the meet wasn't determined until the final match. In dual-meet wrestling, wrestlers earn three points for their team with a win by decision, four points for a major decision (a decision by eight points or more), five points for a technical fall (the match ends when a wrestler takes a 15-point lead) and six points for a pin or win by forfeit.
Soldotna led Nikiski by just two points, 34-32, with two matches left to wrestle. Soldotna's Brandy Goracke earned a tough 9-4 decision over Justin Tumbaga at 140 pounds, extending Soldotna's lead to five points, but leaving the door open for the Bulldogs in the final match of the night.
Soldotna senior Jeremy Kauffman was able to clinch the meet for the Stars, though, recording a pin in 2:43 to defeat Nikiski's Travis McCaughey.
Soldotna coach Jeff Breakfield credited everyone in his lineup with a solid match, from his two seniors down to his freshmen, who were able to step onto the mat and hold their own against some veteran Nikiski wrestlers.
"Everybody wrestled well," Breakfield said.
The Bulldogs weren't without highlights of their own. Anthony Lorenzo began the meet with a win by major decision at 152, defeating Soldotna's Jake Howarth 15-5.
The Bulldogs also got a win by major decision at 189 from John Schwenke, and Tab Key turned in a win by pin at 125 pounds.
At 130, Soldotna's Scott Foster trailed by a point, 5-4, to Nikiski's Josh Huhndorf before initiating a move that led to a near fall and then a pin to give Soldotna a 34-26 lead in the team standings.
Nikiski wasn't done, though, as Jared Mazurek recorded a win by fall at 135, pinning Soldotna's Jeremy Goracke to pull the Bulldogs back to within two points and set the stage for Brandy Goracke and Kauffman.
"They came out ready to wrestle -- we'll see them again this weekend at Seward," said Nikiski coach Abe Porter.
Porter said he was particularly impressed with the matches wrestled by Lorenzo, Mazurek and Tumbaga, and he's working to get the same effort up and down the lineup.
"A couple of kids came out fired up, and a couple of kids came out flat," Porter said. "It's something we've been working on as a team -- we are in the middle of our season."
As exciting as the competition was, both coaches, as well as the spectators in attendance, were happy to see a well-wrestled dual meet -- something that has been rare over the past couple of seasons as many of the area's teams haven't been able to field a complete lineup.
Nikiski did its best to put on a good show, breaking out the spotlight over the center of the mat and turning down the rest of the lights in the gym.
"That makes it real fun for the kids," Porter said. "It's exciting, and it's fun when there's close matches."
Soldotna 43, Nikiski 32
152 -- Anthony Lorenzo, Nik, maj. dec. Jake Howarth, Sol, 15-5
160 -- Ben Breakfield, Sol, maj. dec. Josh Boye, Nik, 17-4
171 -- Nick Warton, Sol, p. Ben Kellie, Nik, 3:32
189 -- John Schwenke, Nik, maj. dec. Terrance Carlson, Sol, 10-2
215 -- Matt Yamoka, Sol, by forfeit
275 -- Sean Whitmore, Sol, p. David Rorrison, Nik, 2:26
103 -- Lance Penhale, Nik, by forfeit
112 -- Jake Ciufo, Sol, by forfeit
119 -- Jordan McCaughey, Nik, by forfeit
125 -- Tab Key, Nik, p. Eric Morris, Sol, 3:45
130 -- Scott Foster, Sol, p. Josh Huhndorf, Nik, 5:16
135 -- Jared Mazurek, Nik, p. Jeremy Goracke, Sol, 2:35
140 -- Brandy Goracke, Sol, dec. Justin Tumbaga, Nik, 9-4
145 -- Jeremy Kauffman, Sol, p. Travis McCaughey, Nik, 2:43
Lance Penhale, Nik, p. Jake Ciufo, Sol, 2:45
Jordan McCaughey, Nik, p. Dustin Mariman, Sol, 1:35
Tab Key, Nik, tech. fall Lawrence Kline, Sol, 16-1, 4:00
Josh Huhndorf, Nik, p. Spencer Tachick, Sol, 2:44
Jared Mazurek, Nik, p. Richard Hatt, Sol, 3:33
Shane Tachick, Sol, dec. Justin Tumbaga, Nik, 9-8
Terrance Carlson, Sol, dec. Ben Kellie, Nik, 6-2
John Schwenke, Nik, p. Matt Yamoka, Sol, 1:28
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