The Nikiski High School wrestling team has some holiday company coming this weekend -- seven more wrestling squads from around Southcentral Alaska will be in town for the Area 2 South tournament Friday and Saturday at Nikiski.
Competition is slated to start today at 10 a.m. and continue throughout the day. Tournament organizers are hoping to get to the championship semifinals by 5 p.m. today, though the schedule is subject to change and is dependent upon the final number of entrants.
Competition will continue Saturday, starting at 10 a.m. The consolation finals are tentatively expected to start around 11:30 a.m., with the championship round to follow at 1 p.m. -- though organizers will push the tournament along and each round may start earlier than anticipated.
Joining the Bulldogs on the mat this weekend will be wrestlers from Anchorage Christian Schools, Grace Christian and Heritage in Anchorage, Houston from the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, and Kenai Peninsula schools Seward, Ninilchik, Voznesenka and Seldovia.
From the wrestlers entered in this weekend's meet, the top four in each weight class will advance to the 1-2-3A State Championship hosted by Anchorage Christian Schools next week.
With three returning state champions expected to participate, as well as plenty of wrestlers ranked high on the Alaska Wrestling Web site, the competition should be excellent.
Leading the charge will be Nikiski, with a pair of returning state champions: 103-pounder Lance Penhale and 152-pounder Anthony Lorenzo.
"They're as excited as they can be," Nikiski coach Abe Porter said. "We've got 12 guys going. Hopefully all 12 will make it to state. It's more probable than not probable."
Also wrestling for the Bulldogs will be Jared Mazurek, who is just back after breaking a collarbone earlier this season. Mazurek has been ranked No. 1 at 130 pounds, and after missing last year's state meet with a break in his other collarbone, Porter said he was determined to see what he could do this year.
"He's going to give it a shot," Porter said. "He's a really tough kid. He's one of the hardest workers in our mat room, and it's unfair that it happened to him, but that's the way these things go."
Anchorage Christian Schools, led by returning state champion Bobby Dunbar at 215, will be tough to beat in the team competition. Cody Dunbar has been ranked No. 1 at 135 pounds, and Jacob Masog has the top ranking at 125.
"As far as depth, it's up in the air," Porter said. "ACS has 18 guys coming. I would hope that we'd be in the hunt. Most of our 12 wrestlers are solid, and we beat them in a dual meet, but it's going to be tough. It's going to be difficult but definitely doable."
Other peninsula wrestlers to watch include Seward's Eric Amberg at 140 and Seldovia's Jevon Chartier and Chance Collier, at 171 and 189 respectively.
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