Auston Tennis is a two-time conference champion. Now he plans to become a state champion.
"I have no intention of finishing second," Tennis said of qualifying for the Class 4A state wrestling tournament, which is Dec. 10 to 11 at the Curtis Menard Sports Complex in Wasilla.
The state's top-ranked 4A wrestler at 145 pounds defeated Wasilla's Derek Johnson 2-0 to win a second consecutive individual title at the Northern Lights Conference tournament at Kenai Central High School on Saturday.
It was Tennis' second victory this season over Johnson and kept him undefeated the past two years against Wasilla's top grappler at 145. The victory capped a two-day run that saw Tennis win four matches in as many tries, two by fall and another by technical fall.
A hard-earned victory in the title match ensured Tennis will be the state's top-rated wrestler for large schools at 145 when he begins his quest to avenge a second-place finish at the 2009 4A state championships.
His takedown midway through the third period against Johnson broke a scoreless tie and proved the difference.
"He's the top guy here," Tennis said. "It's nice to pull it out, and it's good for the team."
Tennis, who won a conference title at 140 with Skyview last year, was the lone champ for SoHi, which placed sixth as a team and qualified eight of 11 wrestlers to state.
Tim Price (119), Taylor Hanley (130), Dusty Poole (140), Logan Patrick (160), Kade Foust (160), Cody Warfield (171) and Dakota Elsey (189) will join Tennis next weekend in Wasilla. Hanley placed second in the bracket at 130, the squad's second-highest finisher.
The Stars could have sent more to state, but they lost three athletes to injury and a fourth to academic ineligibility before the tournament.
"It was tough to lose those guys, but the team did great as whole," coach Scooter Hackett said.
Skyview finished fifth and advanced nine wrestlers to state, led by Sam Janorschke, who won the title at 125.
Janorschke outlasted Wasilla's Jed Diedrich for a 7-5 decision in the finals, his first career win against Diedrich in four tries. The victory was surprising even for Janorschke, who advanced to the finals with a 7-6 win against Cole Miller of Wasilla in the semis.
He placed sixth at the 2009 conference tournament before losing consecutive matches to open state.
"It's a big win for me," Janorschke said. "I didn't expect to be in the finals."
Teammates Hannah Hutchison (103), Austin Cunningham (125), TJ Checketts (130), Cody Williams (145), Daniel Rozak (160), Joe Ben Hawkins (171), Alex Rodriguez (189) and John Alexander (215) also advanced.
Hutchison reached the finals, but forfeited the match due to injury. That gave the crown to Hope Steffensen of Kenai Central, a fourth-place finisher at the state meet in 2009.
Steffensen, ranked No. 3 in the state, tallied two pins and a victory by major decision en route to the finals. Last year she placed sixth at state and second at the region tournament.
"I definitely wanted to wrestle for it," Steffensen said of winning the finals by default. "But the big thing was to win, so I'm not whining."
The host Kardinals finished last in the team competition, but advanced three wrestlers to state in addition to Steffensen -- Devon Carter (135), Adam Agosti (140) and Kevin Hunter (heavyweight).
Homer's Mitch Wyatt was named the tournament's most outstanding wrestler after a dominant performance. The senior improved to 44-0 on the year, sweeping through the bracket at 171 without allowing a point.
The three-time regional champion pinned Alex Fuller of Wasilla in 1:03 in the quarterfinals, Warfield of SoHi in 3:22 in the semis and Wasilla's Yuriy Makitrin in 1:29 in the finals.
After a third-place finish at state in 2009 and a fifth-place effort in 2008, Wyatt has his sights set on the top prize this year.
"I'm feeling like a champion," he said. "Definitely going to wrestle with no regrets -- have no fear."
Kodiak's Pat Costello was named coach of the year after his Bears finished runner-up to champion Wasilla.
Northern Lights Conference tournament
Friday, Saturday at Kenai Central
Team scores: 1. Wasilla, 386; 2. Kodiak, 272.5; 3. Colony, 250; 4. Palmer, 159.5; 5. Skyview, 124; 6. Soldotna, 121.5; 7. Homer, 80; 8. Kenai Central, 60.
103 -- Hope Steffensen, Ken, won by default over Hannah Hutchsion, Sky; 112 -- Eddy Burris, Kod, dec. Ryker Steiner, Was, 2-0; 119 -- Abe Fox, Was, dec. Nate McKimson, Was, 5-3; 125 -- Sam Janorschke, Sky, dec. Jed Diedrich, Was, 7-5; 130 -- Tyler Adams, Was, p. Taylor Hanley, Sol, 4:48; 135 -- Luke Faulkner, Col, p. LJ Leppanen, Pal, 5:31; 140 -- Pearson Brodie, Kod, won by default over Kevin Lepola, Kod; 145 -- Auston Tennis, Sol, dec. Derek Johnsen, Was, 2-0; 152 -- Kyle Boss, Col, Joe Fujimoto, Col, 4-1; 160 -- Nate Wolfe, Col, dec. David Castonguay, Kod, 9-4; 171 -- Mitch Wyatt, Hom, p. Yuriy Makitrin, Was, 1:29; 189 -- Quace Wright, Col, dec. Jeremy White, Was, 9-2; 215 -- Jake Johnson, Was, p. Cole Frohling, Pal, 4:54; 285 -- Renn Wright, Col, dec. Ryan Pomrenke, Was, 6-2.
103 -- Andrew Caballa, Kod, p. Shannon Carpenter, Was, 2:52; 112 -- Conner Minnick, Was, dec. Baile Clifford, Pal, 7-1; 119 -- Francis Llorente, Kod, dec. Nathan Pempek, Pal, 4-2; 125 -- Cole Miller, Was, p. Austin Cunningham, Sky, 4:52; 130 -- Luke Huen, Pal, m.d. Chance Boatman, Was, 11-1; 135 -- Isaac Fields, Kod, dec. Bryce Serna, Was, 6-4; 140 -- Dusty Poole, Sol, dec. Jentry Diederich, Was, 5-3; 145 -- Branden Canete, Kod, dec. AJ Gentz, Pal, 8-1; 152 -- Reuben Ivanoff, Kod, m.d. Shlomo Gherman, Hom, 13-5; 160 -- Logan Patrick, Sol, dec. Daniel Rozak, Sky, 5-2; 171 -- Skye Rench, Col, dec. Joe Ben Hawkins, Sky, 7-1; 189 -- Adam Akelkok, Was, dp. Charlie Johnson, Kod, 3:34; 215 -- John Alexander, Sky, dec. Austin Gonzalez, Was, 5-2; 285 -- Leo Sega, Kod, p. Derek McEwen, Col, 3:40.
103 -- Mason Cochran, Pal, won by default over Wade Booth, Col; 112 -- Aaron Molesky, Pal, p. Bryce Bracker, Col, 3:50; 119 -- Elisha Fields, Kod, p. Tim Price, Sol, 0:42; 125 -- DJ Marsengill, Hom, dec. Wilber Cruz, Kod, 11-8; 130 -- TJ Checketts, Sky, dec. Justin Goff, Kod, 10-3; 135 -- Michael Wilson, Kod, dec. Devon Carter, Ken, 15-13; 140 -- Adam Agosti, Ken, dec. Avery Smith, Col, 7-5; 145 -- Mark McGregor, Hom, p. Cody Williams, Sky, 2:34; 152 -- Devren Jacobsen, Was, p. Kei Heusser, Kod, 2:26; 160 -- Porter Martin, Col, dec. Kade Foust, Sol, 5-2; 171 -- Alex Fuller, Was, dec. Cody Warfield, Sol, 7-4; 189 -- Dakota Elsey, Sol, p. Alex Rodriguez, Sky, 2:32; 215 -- Ty Farber, Col, dec. Larry Croft, Hom, 7-1; 285 -- Joseph Morris, Was, p. Kevin Hunter, Ken, 2:51.
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