It's tempting to say things will be back to normal when the Area 2 South wrestling meet starts today at Houston High School.
But in the constantly changing world of Alaska high school wrestling, where there are changes in the season nearly every year, it's probably just best to say things are back to the way they were three years ago.
In the intervening two years, the Alaska School Activities Association declassified the wrestling seasons. This meant Class 1-2-3A schools, or schools with under 400 students, were competing with Class 4A schools, or schools with over 400 students, in area and state meets.
This year, as the Area 2 South meet gets rolling today, only Class 1-2-3A schools will be present. The Class 4A schools have gone back to holding their state tournament in February.
Wrestling starts at Houston at 10 a.m. today and Saturday. The championship matches will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday.
Peninsula schools Nikiski, Ninilchik, Seldovia and Seward will join other schools in vying for the four state berths available in each weight class.
Before wrestling's great schism during the last two years, peninsula schools Nikiski and Seward dominated the Class 1-2-3A ranks. The Bulldogs won four straight state titles before the Seahawks ended that run in 1999.
Seward coach Ronn Hemstock said he would be surprised if the Bulldogs or Seahawks ended up on top of Area 2 South this year, though.
Hemstock said the favorite at the meet will be Anchorage Christian Schools. The coach said it wouldn't be a shocker if the Lions end up with five champions.
"They're sick," Hemstock said of ACS. "I don't think any of us can touch them.
"The rest of us are battling for second place."
In the 1-2-3A rankings posted on the Web site alaskawrestling.com, the Lions have four wrestlers that are tops in Area 2 South. Those wrestlers are Judah Allen at 119, Randy Houck at 125, Bobby Dunbar at 215 and Josh Homan at 275.
Hemstock said those battling for second place will most likely be Grace Christian, Nikiski, Seward, Ninilchik and Houston.
"All of us have a couple of pretty good kids," Hemstock said. "It will be more of a game between those of us not playing for first.
"If we were to combine against ACS, that might make things interesting."
Nikiski has three wrestlers that have a top ranking in Area 2 South -- Lance Penhale at 103, Josh Huhndorf at 112 and Joey Wicker at 135. Also for Nikiski, Jordan McCaughey is ranked behind Allen at 119 and Anthony Jones is ranked behind Grace's Corky Jones at 152.
For Seward, Eric Amberg is the top-ranked wrestler in the area at 130, while Doug Jones is ranked behind Dunbar at 215.
Hemstock also expects Zach Coots (103) and Coty Beck (140) to do well.
For Ninilchik, Levi Russell is top-ranked at 160 and Steven Miller is ranked behind Wicker at 135.
Finally, Seldovia's Chance Collier is the top-ranked wrestler in Area 2 South at 189.
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