Soldotna wrestling coach Sarge Truesdell wrestled under Skyview coach Neldon Gardner. The two coaches also work together at Soldotna Middle School. Thus, there were no secrets heading into Thursday's dual meet between the rival Panthers and Stars.
Both coaches knew the matches at 145 and 152 pounds had the potential to swing the whole dual meet. Skyview took both of those matches en route to a 44-31 victory.
The dual meet started at 145 pounds, and Jake Savely wasted no time giving Skyview an early edge. Savely was crisp in rolling up a 12-1 major decision over Ben Breakfield.
"I expected this dual meet to be a lot closer," Gardner said. "I knew the first two matches would be pivotal.
"Jake Savely and Ben Breakfield have battled back and forth all year, so when Jake got the win, that was a great way to start it off."
Cameron Gardner, who is Neldon's son, then kept the ball rolling with a pin of TJ Stone at 152.
"Cameron hasn't beaten TJ in the six years they've wrestled together," Neldon Gardner said. "So that was another big win."
However, Soldotna wasn't ready to let Skyview run away with the dual meet just yet. The Stars got a nice win of their own at 160, where Johnny Howarth pinned Sam Dennison.
"Howarth is just a gamer," Truesdell said. "He just shows up and does what he needs to do.
"That pin stopped Skyview's momentum."
Colten Goracke then edged Zack Rohr 3-1 at 171 pounds for the Stars, but Justin Rainwater followed that with a pin at 189 for Skyview.
This brought the dual meet to the strength in Soldotna's lineup -- at 215 and 275 -- and the Stars got a forfeit and a pin by Josh Brantley to take their first lead in the dual meet at 21-16.
However, Skyview came right back with the strength of its lineup. Elliot Gauthier got a pin at 103, Clark Buffington scored a pin at 119 and Dallas Seavey notched a pin at 125. With the forfeit the Panthers received at 112, Skyview now had a controlling 40-25 lead.
"One of the big things in a dual meet is momentum," Gardner said. "When you get three pins and a forfeit in a row, that's pretty hard for the other team to come back from."
While Soldotna didn't manage to come back from Skyview's onslaught, the Stars didn't completely buckle, either.
Soldotna's Brandy Goracke got things turned around with a major decision at 130. Showing the Stars hadn't given up, Goracke scrambled to get the points he needed for a major decision with just seconds left on the clock.
SoHi's Jeremy Kauffman then battled into the third period before getting a pin at 135.
"I was really proud of Jeremy Kauffman," Truesdell said. "He did an excellent job to get that pin."
Skyview's Brandon Cleveland then ended the meet with a major decision over Jake Howarth at 140.
Both coaches were happy with the meet.
"I'm just as happy with the way the team wrestled tonight as I was last year when we beat them," Truesdell said. "These guys wrestled well."
Gardner also is pleased with the consistent effort he is getting out of his squad. Just last weekend, the Panthers were putting in the consistent and tiring effort it takes to win the Jerry Palmer team duals. But there was no letdown Thursday.
"This is a tough sport," Gardner said. "It's a long season, and it's easy to have a mental letdown at some point.
"This group continues to work hard. I'm really happy with them."
SKYVIEW 44, SOLDOTNA 31
145 -- Jake Savely, Sky, m.d. Ben Breakfield, 12-1.
152 -- Cameron Gardner, Sky, p. TJ Stone, 2:32.
160 -- Johnny Howarth, Sol, p. Sam Dennison, 3:59.
171 -- Colten Goracke, Sol, def. Zack Rohr, 3-1.
189 -- Justin Rainwater, Sky, p. Sean Whitmore, 1:59.
215 -- Weigle, Sol, won by forfeit.
275 -- Josh Brantley, Sol, p. Joel Morse, 0:51.
103 -- Elliot Gauthier, Sky, p. Jared Ison, 4:25.
112 -- Strausbaugh, Sky, won by forfeit.
119 -- Clark Buffington, Sky, p. Jake Torwick, 2:31.
125 -- Dallas Seavey, Sky, p. Scott Foster, 3:37.
130 -- Brandy Goracke, Sol, m.d. Cody Phipps, 11-2.
135 -- Jeremy Kauffman, Sol, p. David Leach, 5:21.
140 -- Brandon Cleveland, Sky, m.d. Jake Howarth, 17-7.
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