Soldotna's Les Baker celebrates his victory in the 275-pound championship match at the North/South tournament at Soldotna High School on Saturday afternoon.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
Pre-match nerves used to be an issue for Soldotna junior heavyweight Les Baker. If Baker keeps wrestling like he did at the North/South tournament on Friday and Saturday at Soldotna, pre-match nerves will only be an issue for his opponents.
Baker notched a 12-3 major decision over Kenai’s Mitchell Canavan in the heavyweight championship to become the third peninsula champion at the 16-team tournament. The others were Homer’s Simeon Daigle at 130 pounds and Skyview’s Eddie Buffington at 171 pounds.
Chugiak pulled away from Wasilla in the championship round to win the tournament. The Mustangs and Warriors were tied at 172.5 points heading into the championship matches. All five of Chugiak wrestlers won their championship matches, while Wasilla cashed in on two of its three title bouts. The Mustangs ended up with 194.5 points to Wasilla’s 181.5.
Baker’s championship led the Stars to a fifth-place finish at the tournament the best out of all the peninsula teams. Not bad for somebody who decided not to wrestle his sophomore year because of all the nervousness he experienced before matches as a freshman.
Kenai's Michael Dormady works to control Chugiak's Cayle Byers in the 189-pound championship. Byers won the title by pinning Dormady.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
“It’s a whole different attitude,” Baker said. “There’s no butterflies. I’m feeling good.”
Until Saturday, Baker, now 13-1 on the year, said he had not defeated Canavan since elementary school. Baker said his plan was to try and take advantage of Canavan’s mistakes, but he felt confident going on the attack as his points advantage grew.
“I was surprised that I was able to beat him by a lot,” Baker said.
Canavan said Baker was more mentally and physically prepared for the match.
“He was a lot stronger than I thought he was going to be,” he said.
At 171, Buffington, a junior, won his title by avenging a defeat earlier in the season to Kodiak’s Al Cratty. Buffington scored a takedown in the first period, then started the second period down and recorded an escape. Cratty started the third period down and recorded an escape, but Buffington had little trouble holding onto his 3-1 cushion for the final 1:31.
Soldotna's Erick Morris wrestles Chugiak's Danny Tol in the 152-pound championship.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
“That was one of my worst matches ever,” Buffington said of his loss to Cratty at the Nikiski Duals. “Today was payback.”
After finishing third at state at 152 as a freshman, Buffington was sixth at state at 160 last year. He said he’d like to redeem himself this year with a state title.
“I have to get in shape and open it up a little,” Buffington said. “I think my opponents will start to go 100 percent defensive with me. I’ll have to be in shape so I can stay aggressive the whole time.”
Daigle, a senior, was in control of his entire match against Dimond’s Frank Holdberg. He led 2-0 after the first period, 5-0 after the second and won 8-0. While Daigle was able to get takedowns and control Holdberg on the mat, Daigle never got Holdberg on his back.
“I had this one pretty much dominated, I just couldn’t turn him,” Daigle said.
Daigle won a state title last year at 125 pounds. He started this season wrestling at 135. The North/South was his first event at 130. Daigle said he plans to wrestle at state at 130 this year.
“It’s kind of hard to get down to, but once you get down there you feel pretty good,” he said.
Four peninsula wrestlers made it to the finals and lost. The closest loss came when Soldotna’s Erick Morris dropped a 4-2 decision to Chugiak’s Danny Tol at 152. Tol opened up the scoring with a takedown with five seconds left in the first period. Morris started the second period down and scored a reversal to tie the score at 2 with 41 seconds left. In the third period, Tol grabbed a 4-2 lead with 1:30 left on a takedown and rode out the victory.
“There were a lot of situations where if I would have hit the move harder I could have gotten out,” Morris said. “I was out of position a little bit a couple of times and he capitalized on it. I didn’t make up for my mistakes.”
Morris, who also finished second at the Bob Bailey Invitational last weekend at Chugiak, said he had great quarterfinal and semifinal matches that show he’s close to the top of his division.
“Our coaches are going a great job,” Morris said. “I’m glad Sarge (Truesdell) came back. We’re shaping up to be a good team. We have a lot of young kids, but they are coming around.”
At 189, Kenai senior Michael Dormady got a good look of what the top of the division looks like. Chugiak’s Cayle Byers, a state champion last year at 171, pinned Dormady at 4:55. Dormady was down 2-0 after the first period. Byers started the second period down and Dormady didn’t allow an escape until 12 seconds remained in the period. With four seconds left, Byers took Dormady straight down on his back and Dormady’s head slammed on the mat in the process. Byers then recorded the pin in the third period.
“It’s fine. I just rung my head a little bit,” Dormady said. “It happens in football, sometimes, too.”
Dormady said he now has something to shoot for in Byers. Last year, Dormady was pinned by two-time state champion Jake Wade early in the season, but came back to defeat Wade at the Northern Lights Conference Tournament.
“He’s a good opponent,” Dormady said of Byers. “He’s one I’d like to beat. If not, I’d like to improve against him every match.”
At 112 pounds, Homer sophomore Ben Daigle lost a 9-3 decision to Service’s Anthony Rickets. Daigle had just defeated Rickets last weekend, and Rickets was named the most outstanding wrestler at the tournament for his turnaround. Rickets controlled the scoreboard by getting takedowns whenever the two faced off in neutral position.
“I didn’t stay low,” said Daigle, who defeated Rickets 6-4 at the Bob Bailey. “I tied up with him instead of staying low and he went underneath me. I played his game instead of mine.”
The final peninsula wrestler to make the finals was Brandon O’Brikis of Seward. O’Brikis dropped a 5-0 decision to Chugiak’s Rory McBride at 215.
North/South Wrestling Tournament
at Soldotna High School
Team scores: 1. Chugiak, 194.5; 2. Wasilla, 181.5; 3. Kodiak, 161.5; 4. Dimond, 109; 5. Soldotna, 107; 6. Palmer, 93.5; 7. Skyview, 83; 8. East, 78.5; 9. Kenai, 78; 10. Homer, 76; 11. Service, 75; 12. Colony JV, 65; 13. Seward, 62; 14. Bartlett, 33.5; 15. Grace, 27; 16. Houston, 6.
103 Nathan Hoffer, Eas, dec. Chase Montgomery, Col, 19-15; 112 Anthony Rickets, Ser, dec. Ben Daigle, Hom, 9-3; 119 Alan Bartelli, Was, m.d. Josh West, Col, 10-2; 125 Jimmy Eggemeyer, Kod, dec. Mike Chafin, Was, 5-3; 130 Simeon Daigle, Hom, m.d. Frank Holdberg, Dim, 8-0; 135 Lucas Fried, Kod, p. Tom Eller, Pal, 5:14; 140 Duane Carpenter, Was, dec. Peter Walls, Gra, 5-4; 145 Quincy Voris, Chu, dec. Marlon Branson, Kod, 11-7; 152 Danny Tol, Chu, dec. Erick Morris, Sol, 4-2; 160 Sam Carlson, Chu, dec. John Paul Croffut, Dim, 6-2; 171 Eddie Buffington, Sky, dec. Al Cratty, Kod, 3-1; 189 Cayle Byers, Chu, p. Michael Dormady, Ken, 4:55; 215 Rory McBride, Chu, dec. Brandon O’Brikis, Sew, 5-0; 275 Les Baker, Sol, m.d. Mitchell Canavan, Ken, 12-3.
103 Jesse Romero, Pal, dec. Skyler Moore, Eas, 2-1; 112 Nick VanMetre, Kod, dec. Chris Osbekof, Ken, 5-3; 119 Dustin Maxwell, Eas, dec. Michaela Hutchison, Sky, 7-3, OT; 125 Lipho Thriakul, Eas, dec. Tom Appelhanz, Hom, 7-4; 130 Wes Mills, Pal, dec. Zach Baldwin, Chu, 10-4; 135 Luke Morse, Sky, dec. David Muzechuk, Was, 3-0; 140 Derrick Burlison, Sky, m.d. Salvador Hernandez, Bar, 10-2; 145 Tris Brymer, Hom, dec. Jon Jensen, Was, 5-4; 152 Westley Gagnon, Was, dec. Jeremiah Olson, Kod, 4-2; 160 Casey Katchinska, Was, p. Justin Cowley, Hou, 4:58; 171 Nolan McBride, Chu, dec. Danny Kuhn, Dim, 12-8; 189 Jonnie Boyer, Dim, p. Sam Gittlein, Was, 2:26; 215 Mathew Strieby, Sol, p. Ben Watkins, Kod, 0:55; 275 Jesus Gephart, Eas, dec. Jeff Pritchett, Col, 11-6.
103 Shane Douglas, Sew, p. Ryan Tibbett, Bar, 1:54; 112 Ryan Hogan, Was, t.f. Westly Koch, Was, 3:29; 119 Nicholas Cropper, Ser, dec. Grant Sullivan, Chu, 7-6; 125 Stephen Kichura, Chu, dec. Ryan Skurkud, Ser, 11-9; 130 Jake Mintum, Gra, dec. Jameson Murphy, Dim, 7-5; 135 Zach Eastlick, Dim, and Ryan Hanley, Sol, had double forfeit; 140 Mike Ragsdale, Sol, dec. Eddie Burke, Ser, 8-5; 145 Nick Stahler, Pal, m.d. Robert Peters, Ser, 12-4; 152 Gerald Pestrikoff, Dim, p. Justin Hensler, Ken, 3:58; 160 Jimmy Caswell, Kod, won by forfeit over Caleb Reilly, Pal; 171 Tremain Benton, Pal, dec. David Japhet, Sol, 6-2; 189 Ethan Waters, Sol, dec. David Gilbert, Kod, 9-6; 215 Chris Cuff, Gra, p. Daniel Cassidy, Ser, 2:26; 275 Justin Vanover, Pal, p. Alex Lutton, Dim, 0:31.
Homer wins tri meet against Nikiski, Houston
The Homer wrestling team won a tri meet with Nikiski and Houston on Thursday in Homer. The Mariners scored 64 points, while Houston had 53 points and Nikiski had 44 points.
Homer Tri Meet
Team scores: Homer 64, Houston 53, Nikiski 44.
103 Parker, Nik, won by forfeit; Parker, Nik, won by forfeit; double forfeit.
112 B. Daigle, Hom, won by forfeit; B. Daigle, Hom, won by forfeit; double forfeit.
119 Hediger, Hom, t.f. Shannon, Hou, 17-2; Shannon, Hou, won by forfeit; Catlin, Hom, won by forfeit.
125 Wall, Nik, m.d. Postin, Hou, 17-6; Hediger, Hom, p. Wall, Nik, 1:11; G. Appelhanz, Hom, p. R Poston, Hou, 1:27.
130 Appelhanz, Hom, won by forfeit; double forfeit; double forfeit.
135 S. Daigle, Hom, p. Gruen, Hou, 0:52; Stinson, Hou, p. Ware, Nik, 5:14; S. Daigle, Hom, p. Ware, Nik, 1:11.
140 Cope, Hou, won by forfeit; Mayes, Hom, won by forfeit; Stinson, Hou, t.f. Mayes, Hom, 19-2.
145 Ballard, Hom, p. Murray, Nik, 2:35; Brymer, Hom, dec. Meline, Hou, 12-8; Meline, Hom, p. Murray, Nik, 3:27.
152 Weinfurter, Hom, won by forfeit; Payment, Nik, won by forfeit; Weinfurter, Hom, p. Payment, Nik, 5:27.
160 Gardner, Hou, m.d. Vance, Nik, 14-3; Vance, Nik, m.d. Hinsberger, Hom, 15-6; Gardner, Hou, p. Hinsberger, Hom, 3:44.
171 Edge, Hom, p. Erickson, Nik, 3:33; Edge, Hom, p. Kroener, Hou, 1:34; Kroener, Hou, dec. Erickson, Nik, 10-9.
189 Crowley, Hou. t.f. Tanore, Hom, 15-0; Crowley, Hou, t.f. Ribbens, Nik, 17-1; Ribbens, Nik, p. Tanore, Hom, 3:15.
215 Mapes, Nik, won by forfeit; Mapes, Nik, won by forfeit; double forfeit.
275 Double forfeit; Bowman, Hou, won by forfeit; Bowman, Hou, won by forfeit.
119 Catlin, Hom, p. Poston, Hou, 3:08; 119 Shannon, Hou, dec. McNulty, Hom, 7-4; 140 Mayes, Hom, dec. Cope, Hou, 10-9; 189 Mapes, Nik, p. Tanore, Hom, 1:06; 112 B. Daigle, Hom, p. Parker, Nik, 3:10; 119 Connor, Hom, p. Shannon, Hou, 5:26.
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