On a night when all but one of the gymnasium lights went out, Tyler Peek delivered a glowing performance.
The senior wrestler defeated his opponent by technical fall, his team benefited from three individual forfeits and the Nikiski wrestling squad held on to defeat Skyview 41-39 in a dual meet Tuesday evening in a dark Nikiski gym.
"It was definitely a little different," Peek said of wrestling beneath one bright light, illuminating the mat after the team chose to turn off the others before the match to create a different atmosphere. "It was intense."
And so was the meet.
Nikiski built a 17-3 lead after Peek pinned Cody Williams at 145 pounds in the opening match, but the Panthers won three of the next four to pull within 23-21.
After Nikiski earned six points thanks to one of three Skyview forfeits, Sam Janorschke and TJ Checketts earned back-to-back pins at 125 and 130 to give the Panthers a 39-29 lead.
A Nathan Stangel pin followed by another forfeit gave Nikiski the final 12 points and the win.
"Our guys fought, they never gave up," said Skyview coach Neldon Gardner, admitting his short-handed team was an underdog entering the match. "The score could have been a lot worse, really."
Gardner was impressed with his entire lineup, particularly Checketts, the team's lone senior. Checketts pinned Nikiski's Sawyer Skiba.
Checketts was winless against Skiba in two career matches entering Tuesday's dual.
At 103, Skyview's Hannah Hutchison earned a pin midway through the second period against Nikiski's Dakota Neely, and the Panthers' John Alexander pinned Jesse Hyatt at 215.
Gardner said his team also showed improvement Tuesday in areas in which it has struggled all season, including defense against takedowns.
"They didn't roll over as easy as in weeks past," Gardner said. "Everyone stepped up."
Nikiski, meanwhile, did just enough to earn the win as the team enjoyed its first and only home dual of the season.
Prior to the match, the squad ran through a plume of artificial smoke as music blared over the speakers. It was a special introduction for the seniors, who were introduced one-by-one alongside their parents.
Peek, who placed fifth at state a year ago and hopes for a return trip, was dominant in earning a second-period technical fall against Williams.
He has lost just three matches this season at 140 and 145 and plans to wrestle at 145 for state.
"I'm shooting to finish in the top three," said Peek, who will have home-mat advantage because Nikiski will host the small-schools state championships for the next three years.
On Tuesday, the Bulldogs' Kaden Spurgeon earned a pin at 152, as did Lincoln Johnson at 171.
"It was a big deal for us to wrestle Skyview," Nikiski coach Adam Anders said. "It was big to get a win against such a great program."
For both teams, the contest served as a warm-up for larger meets this weekend.
Nikiski will travel to Anchorage Christian School for a meet Friday and Saturday that serves as a preview to the small-schools state tournament, and Skyview is preparing to host the two-day Skyview Invitational on Friday and Saturday.
Weigh-ins for the invite will begin at 4 p.m. Friday and 8 a.m. Saturday.
Soldotna 45, Kenai Central 26
The Stars picked up a dual-meet victory on Tuesday at Kenai Central.
Auston Tennis, Logan Patrick and Cody Warfield picked up pins for the Stars.
For the Kardinals, Kevin Hunter and Brad Hamilton had pins, while Hope Steffensen notched a technical fall.
"We didn't do well in terms of the score but the kids came out and wrestled a lot more aggressively than they have all year," Kenai coach Steve Schoessler said. "The kids were doing more moves and attacking more than being passive."
Nikiski 41, Skyview 39
103 -- Hannah Hutchison, Sky, p. Dakota Neely, 3:34; 112 -- Shawn Burdick, Nik, won by forfeit; 119 -- Grant Valiquette, Sky, won by forfeit; 125 -- Sam Janorschke, Sky, p. Justin Burdick, :56; 130 -- TJ Checketts, Sky, p. Sawyer Skiba, 3:45; 135 -- Nathan Stangel, Nik, p. Shane Blumentritt, 1:52; 140 -- Kovy Harbick, Nik., won by forfeit; 145 -- Tyler Peek, Nik, won by tech. fall, Cody Williams; 152 -- Kaden Spurgeon, Nik, p. Frank Navarro, 1:03; 160 -- Daniel Rozak, Sky., dec. Floyd Armstrong, 8-3; 171 -- Lincoln Johnson, Nik, p. Joeben Hawkins, 3:59; 189 --Alex Rodriguez, Sky, p. Jesse Eide, 3:37; 215 -- John Alexander, Sky, p. Jesse Hyatt, 1:41; HWT -- Allen Oskolkoff, Nik, won by forfeit.
Soldotna 45, Kenai 26
145 -- Auston Tennis, Sol, p. Dylan Sterling, 1:36; 152 -- Tyler Powell, Sol, won by forfeit; 160 -- Logan Patrick, Sol, p. Tyler Brown, 2:56; 171 -- Cody Warfield, Sol, p. Ishmael, 2:23; 189 -- Dakota Elsey, Sol, p. Coltyn Pribbenow, 0:30; 215 -- Kyle Ledet, Sol, won by forfeit; 285 -- Kevin Hunter, Ken, p. AJ Briggs, 3:38; 103 -- Hope Steffensen, Ken, t.f. Edmondsen, 19-4; 112 -- Dustin Everett, Ken, won by forfeit; 119 -- Double forfeit; 125 -- Brad Hamilton, Sol, p. Price, 0:50; 130 -- Tayler Hanley, Sol, won by forfeit; 135 -- Cody Carroll, Sol, dec. Devin Carter, 8-5; 140 -- Adam Agosti, Ken, dec. Dusty Poole, 4-3.
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