Dawgs rule under this Roofe

Nikiski senior is an animal on the mat, an animal lover off of it

Posted: Tuesday, November 14, 2000

Catching up with Chris Roofe isn't easy.

Your best bet? Grab a copy of the Bulldogs' athletic schedule and plan to park yourself in the bleachers until the Nikiski High School senior is done competing -- but don't wait too long. Hesitate for a moment, and he'll be on his way to the next activity.

"I play basketball, football and soccer," Roofe said last week during a rare moment of inactivity before the Nikiski wrestling team departed for the Anchorage Christian Schools tournament. "Wrestling is my bread and butter."

Roofe was introduced to wrestling at a young age. His mother, Teri, signed him up with the North Road Panthers when Roofe was in kindergarten.

"He was always full of energy," Teri said. "He kept trying to wrestle his little sister. I said, 'I think there's a place to do that, and I think there's a uniform and a mat to go with it.'"

The rest, as they say, is history. Since his freshman year with the Bulldogs' varsity program, Roofe has been one of the top wrestlers in the state. He wrestled at 112 pounds as a freshman, and moved up to 130 as a sophomore, winning a state title by beating teammate and friend Omar Thompson in the championship match.

In sports

Plays football, basketball, wrestling and soccer for the Bulldogs.

Won a small-schools state title at 130 pounds his sophomore year.

Won a small-schools state title as a tight end and linebacker on the football team.

In school

Earns As and Bs in the classroom.

Wants to become a veterinarian.

"It was a big accomplishment for a sophomore, but it was hard to wrestle my teammate," Roofe said.

Last season, Roofe wrestled at 145 and finished second at the state meet, and he weighs in at 160 this season.

"When I was little, I was kinda chubby and I didn't get as many matches because I was bigger than all the other kids," Roofe said.

At 6-feet tall, Roofe tends to be a little longer and leaner than many of his opponents these days, but he's getting plenty of quality matches -- and besting most of the competition the state has to offer.

In fact, he's been able to showcase his talents on the national stage, winning a championship in Greco-Roman style wrestling at the Western Regional Championships in Fresno, Calif., when he wrestled in the 13- and 14-year-old age bracket.

He took a third in the freestyle competition at the same event and, along with his state title, considers it the highlight of his career thus far.

While Roofe has been an animal on the mat, he is known as an animal lover by his friends and classmates.

"I love animals," Roofe said. "We just got a new puppy -- a Jack Russell terrier. That's what a lot of people at school know me for."

The Jack Russell is latest addition to the Roofe household menagerie that also includes cats and fish. The family takes good care of its pets. The Roofes lost three animals in the past year, a 15-year-old cat, a 15-year-old cocker spaniel and a 14-year-old golden retriever.

"They live forever at our house," Teri said. "Chris is 100 percent about our animals. He takes care of them. When I fall asleep, he'll come take the puppy so it can sleep with him."

Roofe is hoping to turn his love of animals into a career in the veterinary field. Roofe earns As and Bs and is an honor roll student at Nikiski.

"What I'd like to do is wrestle in college, and after I get my bachelor's, go to veterinary school," Roofe said. "You've got to have good grades to get into veterinary school. It's very competitive."

If Roofe's athletic career is any indication, he'll thrive on the competition.

"There's not too many kids that do well in individual sports," Teri said. "It takes a certain type of personality to go out on the mat in front of all those people. Chris has that personality. The harder the match, the more he thrives on it."

Roofe finds himself playing the most demanding positions in his other athletic pursuits as well. He lines up at tight end and linebacker for the Bulldogs on the football field, plays guard on the basketball court and patrols the central midfield for the Nikiski soccer team.

"That's what I like about sports -- the physical aspect," Roofe said. "That's what I'm going to miss most when I go to college -- not being able to play all the sports."

Certainly, Roofe has been making the most of his senior season. He played a big role in Nikiski's undefeated, state-championship football season, earning second-team All-Great Land Conference honors.

"It was pretty cool because everybody on the football team was friends," Roofe said. "That's probably why we clicked so good as a team."

The Bulldogs are coming together on the wrestling mat as well.

"We don't have a huge senior class, but we've got a lot of experienced juniors," Roofe said.

Roofe leads by example with the Bulldogs, and his mother said he's always been a leader.

"In everything he does, he's displayed excellent leadership qualities," Teri said. "I'm not sure where he gets that from. He's always been that way. His kindergarten teacher told us he was a great kid, but that he'd probably like it if she left the room and let him run the class."

This year's state wrestling tournament, scheduled for Dec. 15 and 16 at Kenai Central High School, will have a little bit different feel to it after the Alaska School Activities Association's declassification of the sport, but the Bulldogs still will be shooting for the top spot.

After that, the Bulldogs have been invited to Reno, Nev., to participate in the National High School Championships, giving Roofe another chance to showcase his talents.

Then there's the basketball and soccer seasons, and Roofe has been saving his earnings from his summer job at Cook Inlet Processing and is planning to travel to Germany after graduation to visit Felix Euler, an exchange student that stayed with the Roofes last year.

"He's got some big plans," Teri said. "He's got a lot of irons in the fire. He's going to have to hustle to get it all in, but once he sets his mind to it, he goes all the way."

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