Relaxing in the stands awaiting the championship round to commence, Soldotna’s Erick Morris sat eating a banana with peanut butter smeared all over it.
Scoop by scoop and bite by bite, the senior was preparing more and more.
“Peanut butter for protein. It’s just pure protein and then the banana for potassium,” Morris explained. “Actually, my track coach told me about it a couple weeks ago and it tastes real good.
“I usually eat like one or two after wins and then one or two after two or three matches,” he added. “It helps. It keeps muscles from cramping.”
He might just be onto something.
After pinning his opponents in two earlier matches at Saturday’s Skyview Invitational, Morris controlled Colony’s Todd Atwood throughout the 152-pound championship, recording an early takedown and scoring a late reversal en route to a 6-0 decision.
The Stars, however, still fell to Colony, 48-19, having forfeited three matches.
While the funny looks and questioning comments are there, Morris isn’t bothered. If his new prematch ritual is working, that’s all that matters to him.
“Actually some of my teammates think it’s kind of weird. It tastes really good,” he said, adding he can notice a difference in how he performs on the mat.
Also propelling Morris lately, though, is a victory earlier in the year over Ninilchik junior Austin Vanderford, who claimed the 152-pound state title Saturday night. It was Vanderford’s lone setback of the season.
“It’s actually been a big motivator for the last couple of tournaments,” he said. “Austin, going to the state finals and stuff, going in there undefeated and me being the only one to beat him, it puts a lot of pressure on me to perform well and beat the people that he’s beat and just stand out.”
When in tight situations lately, Morris conjures memories of that monumental win.
“Like in close matches like at North/South when I lost to (Chugiak’s) Danny Tol. I had that in the back, just right in there, that I should be able to beat this kid because I pinned Austin. It helped me for a while but I couldn’t pull it out.”
Perhaps even more impressive than making the finals was the way the Stars advanced there, knocking off Skyview, 45-33, who then rebounded with a 39-32 win over Colony’s second team in the third place contest.
Soldotna coach Sarge Truesdell said it was SoHi’s first win over the Panthers in five years. It may have actually been a bit longer.
“It’s been longer than that,” Skyview coach Neldon Gardner said with a laugh. “It’s been quite a while. I don’t think they’ve beat us since back in the ‘97s or before, that I can recall. That’s 10 years ago.”
Five years, 10 years? It doesn’t really make a difference to Truesdell.
“They’re obviously down and we’ve been up and down over the last few years and haven’t really had a lot of stability in our program. I think we’re on our way back, though,” he explained. “They’re not the same program this year. They’re really, really young. They’ve got a handful of studs. I know he’s building, but it still means something for us.
“For years, when I coached at SoHi, we emulated the Skyview program because that’s what we wanted to be like. I don’t think that’s gone just because they’re young,” Truesdell added. “I mean, we still would like to have banners like that hanging on our wall someday. So, to beat them means a lot to us.”
Entering the championship round against Colony, Truesdell knew his upper weight classes would give the Knights some trouble.
He was absolutely right.
David Japhet (171) won a 13-12 decision over Colony’s Matt Norton after owning a commanding 10-3 lead in the third. But Norton scored three near-fall points and a reversal to knot the match at 12 before he let Japhet escape for the tight victory.
“That kid (Japhet) beat is a stud,” Truesdell said. “I told you he did that in the Skyview match too. He pinned that good, good kid from Skyview (Patrick Sheridan) and that pretty much won us that dual. So, he had a great weekend.”
Next up was Ethan Waters (189), who jumped out to an early 2-0 lead on Colony’s Tyler Milner and led 4-1 after the second. Another takedown in the third made it 6-1 and he held on for a 6-3 decision.
SoHi’s Mathew Streiby (215) then pinned Eric Fan in 2:26 and Les Baker (275) earned a 17-6 major decision over Colony’s Jeff Pritchett, after picking up five points just before the end of the second period, turning a one-point lead into a 12-6 advantage.
In other finals’ action, Colony’s Charles Cosisman (103) pinned Meg Pruitt in 38 seconds; Jacob Pfieffer (130) captured a 4-0 decision over SoHi’s Delbert Leavitt; three-time state champion Hollan Gravely (135) pinned Soldotna’s Tanner Link in 38 seconds; Colony’s Bridger Van Ness (140) beat Steve Burlison, 6-2; David Cozier (145) pinned SoHi’s Kraig Morris in 3:27; and Colony’s Ken Boykin (160) pinned Jesse Faulkner in 3:06.
“They had a real good tournament and they got some good kids. They’re even missing some kids,” Gardner said of Soldotna. “They’re going to be a real strong team.”
Matthew Carroll can be reached at matthew.carroll @peninsulaclarion.com.
TEAM SCORES 1. Colony-1; 2. Soldotna; 3. Skyview; 4. Colony-2; 5. Wasilla; 6. Homer; 7. Kenai; 8. Peninsula Mixed Team
103 Cosisman, Col, p. Pruitt, Sol, :38
112 Wilson, Col, won by forfeit
119 West, Col, won by forfeit
125 Beaucamp, Col, won by forfeit
130 Pfieffer, Col, dec. Leavitt, Sol, 4-0
135 Gravely, Col, p. Link, Sol, :38
140 Van Ness, Col, dec. Burlison, Sol, 6-2
145 Crozier, Col, p. K. Morris, Sol, 3:27
152 E. Morris, Sol, dec. Atwood, Col, 6-0
160 Boykin, Col, p. Faulkner, Sol, 3:06
171 Japhet, Sol, dec. Norton, Col, 13-12
189 Waters, Sol, dec. Milner, Col, 6-3
215 Streiby, Sol, p. Fan, Col, 2:26
HWT Baker, Sol, maj. dec. Pritchett, Col, 17-6
103 Melke, Col, p. Mo. Hutchison, Sky, 5:28
112 Mi. Hutchison, Sky, maj. dec. Loggins, Col, 11-1
119 Boss, Col, dec. Janorschke, Sky, 4-0
125 Fritz, Col, t.f. Maciariello, Sky, 16-1
130 Lowery, Col, won by forfeit
135 Martel, Col, p. Thomas, Sky, 1:30
140 Morse, Sky, t.f. Shore, Col, 19-4
145 Pollard, Sky, p. Jaronik, Col, 5:36
152 Trask, Col, p. Rodgers, Sky, 5:24
160 Buffington, Sky, p. Barlow, Col, 3:35
171 Sheridan, Sky, won by forfeit
189 Byrne, Sky, p. James, Col, 2:27
215 double forfeit
HWT Bacon, Sky, p. Buck, Col, 1:36
103 Nelson, Was, won by forfeit
112 B. Daigle, Hom, p. Kock, Was, :59
119 Gross, Was, p. McNulty, Hom, 1:20
125 Brown, Was, p. Hediger, Hom, 4:08
130 R. Brymer, Hom, maj. dec. McElroy, Was, 14-3
135 S. Daigle, Hom, maj. dec. Muzrunuk, Was, 13-4
140 Morris, Was, won by forfeit
145 T. Brymer, Hom, p. Marshall, Was, 2:50
152 Gagnon, Was, p. Weaver, Hom, :37
160 Bathbun, Was, p. Bates, Hom, 2:34
171 England, Was, p. Edge, Hom, :40
189 Smith, Hom, p. Knighten,Was, :27
215 double forfeit
HWT double forfeit
103 Pribbenow, Ken, dec. Wilson, Pen, 11-6
112 Aho, Ken, p. Day, Pen, 2:30
119 Osbekoff, Ken, p. Katlin, Pen, 3:15
125 Hughes, Ken, t.f. Connor, Pen, 15-0
130 Leavitt, Pen, won by forfeit
135 John, Ken, p. Jackson, Pen, 1:22
140 double forfeit
145 Boyle, Ken, p. Elson, Pen, 2:35
152 Hensler, Ken, maj. dec. Hinsberger, Pen, 10-1
160 Dambacher, Ken, p. Lawson, Pen, :22
171 Krause, Ken, dec. Chumley, Pen, 11-9
189 Mahaw, Pen, won by forfeit
215 Gomez, Pen, won by forfeit
HWT Streiby, Pen, won by forfeit
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