Fresh off a first-place finish in their own tournament on Saturday, the Skyview wrestling team squared off with a young Nikiski squad on Tuesday at Nikiski High School.
Despite winning seven-of-10 contested matches in capturing a 47-21 victory over the Bulldogs, Panthers' coach Neldon Gardner still thinks his crew can perform better.
"I was impressed with their kids (Tuesday). They fought hard, they worked hard," he said of Nikiski. "Even though we won seven of the 10, the kids were a little flat on their feet, a little down, compared to how they've been wrestling. We just take it one day at a time, rebound, come back for Seward this weekend."
And with regions slightly more than three weeks away, Gardner knows there's plenty of room for improvement.
"We've still got a ways to go. We're training hard. We're making a few mistakes that we're going to look at. Some basic mistakes, getting too high, hanging your head to the side and not moving on your feet quick feet. So, we're going to work on that," he explained. "The kids are in shape. They were a little flat (Tuesday), but that happens once in a while. Everyone has a good match, bad match. (Regions will) be here before we know it, though. And I keep telling them that. They realize it. They've been working really hard."
So have the Bulldogs, who seem to be making strides every time out.
"We dualed Kenai last Thursday and then came back and won some of those matches" at the Skyview Invitational, said Nikiski coach Lucas Peless. "Every time we've met the same opponents, we're getting better and better. That's exciting. A bright future."
Nikiski's Josh Vance fits into that category.
After being pinned in 4:32 and eliminated by Skyview's Kenny Mahan at Saturday's tournament, Vance got his revenge on Tuesday.
The 171-pounder trailed Mahan 6-4 with under 30 seconds remaining in the final period, and while his coaches were screaming at him to just reach his feet, Vance did them one better. A reversal with 22 seconds left knotted the score and Vance earned a takedown near the end of overtime in earning the hard-fought 8-6 victory.
"Josh has always been my best reverser. We went over it heavy in practice this week, how to reverse. A lot of kids tried it out there and they were successful with it," Peless said. "I didn't expect him to try it there because Kenny's an accomplished wrestler and like I said, he beat him badly this weekend. So, I didn't expect it to happen quite like that. And Josh, he really wanted it."
Matt Parker (103) nearly did the same to Skyview's Bryce Wilson, who handled Parker 12-4 in Saturday's finals, but ended up losing again, 9-7.
"Much tougher. The kid was ready," Gardner said. "He didn't give up the points as easy this time."
Nikiski's Nathan Stangel (112) then pinned Megan Janorschke in 5:54 before the Panthers ripped off three wins in a row: Monica Hutchison (119) defeated Kovy Harbick, 19-3; Michaela Hutchison (125) pinned Hailey Driver in 1:03; and Alex Janorschke (130) pinned Chris Richter in just 35 seconds.
Following a victory by Nikiski's Tyler Peek (135), who pinned Rhett Jackson in 5:44, Skyview's Jared Thomas (145) pinned Jacob Tuttle in 3:28; Fred Pollard (152) edged Nikiski's Karl Buccholz, 8-4, and Jordan Engles (160), wrestling his first match of the season for the Panthers, required only 12 seconds to pin Chris Skura.
Regardless of the outcome, Peless is seeing improvement.
"Skyview's one of the better teams in the state and we came out and wrestled hard. Aside from the forfeits, we were close into the match," he said. "Some of my kids that lost to the same opponent this weekend, came back and beat them.
"They're stepping it up. We are a new team. We're still really young. Most of my lineup is freshmen and they're starting to wrestle," Peless added. "They're wanting it. They're hungering for it. So, it's been good."
At Nikiski High School
Skyview 47, Nikiski 21
103 Wilson, Sky, dec. Parker, Nik, 9-7
112 Stangel, Nik, p. M. Janorschke, Sky, 5:54
119 Mon. Hutchison, Sky, TF Harbik, Nik, 19-3
125 Mich. Hutchison, Sky, p. Driver, Nik, 1:03
130 A. Janorschke, Sky, p. Richter, Nik, :35
135 Peek, Nik, p. Jackson, Sky, 5:44
140 Ware, Nik, won by forfeit
145 Thomas, Sky, p. Tuttle, Nik, 3:28
152 Pollard, Sky, dec. Buccholz, Nik, 8-4
160 Engles, Sky, p. Skura, Nik, :12
171 Vance, Nik, dec. Mahan, Sky, 8-6, OT
189 Buffington, Sky, won by forfeit
215 Byrne, Sky, won by forfeit
Homer edges Soldotna
The Mariners, who won four matches by forfeit, earned a 45-33 dual-meet victory over the visiting Stars on Tuesday.
Earning contested victories for Homer was Tris Brymer (152), Eric Weinfurter (160), Zach Hinsberger (171) and Billy Edge (189).
For Soldotna, Taylor Hanley (103), Wes Mills (135), Steven Burlison (145), Matthew Strieby (215) and Nathan Strieby (285) all won their matches.
At Homer High School
Homer 45, Soldotna 33
103 Hanley, Sol, p. Gravey, Hom, 1:44
112 B. Wyatt, Hom, won by forfeit
119 B. Smith, Hom, won by forfeit
125 Powell, Sol, won by forfeit
130 Daigle, Hom, won by forfeit
135 Mills, Sol, dec. Appelhanz, Hom, 4-1
140 R. Brymer, Hom, won by forfeit
145 Burlison, Sol, p. M. Wyatt, 5:20
152 T. Brymer, Hom, p. Carlson, Sol, 3:30
160 Weinfurter, Hom, p. Vancelszor, Sol, 5:03
171 Hinsberger, Hom, p. Dooley, Sol, 1:34
189 B. Edge, Hom, dec. Chumley, Sol, 14-10
215 M. Strieby, Sol, p. Croft, Hom , 2:30
HWT N. Strieby, Sol, p. Harville, Hom, 1:22
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