The Skyview Panthers wrestling team scratched and clawed its way to the top of Region III this weekend, racking up a perfect 6-0 record at the Region III Duals Friday and Saturday at Soldotna and Skyview.
Skyview got undefeated weekend performances from eight individual wrestlers en route to a dominant performance that leaves them poised to make a run at a region title this season.
"It's within our reach," said Skyview coach Neldon Gardner.
However, Gardner noted that Wasilla may still be the team to beat, despite the fact that Skyview handled the Warriors 38-30 Saturday in their dual match.
"If Wasilla was healthy, right now, they would have the edge on us," Gardner said.
Skyview's Jesse Grant and Soldotna's Terrence Carlson wrestle at 189 pounds Saturday during the Region III Duals at Soldotna.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
Wasilla edged Skyview earlier this year in the annual North-South Tournament, the largest tournament outside of the state meet for the season.
Wasilla head coach Shawn Hayes said his team was feeling a little under the weather this weekend, but gave Skyview credit for coming through for the head-to-head win.
"Skyview's been right on our tail," Hayes said. "We're just going to have to work harder and try to get healthy."
Wasilla was no pushover however, as the Warriors had a number of outstanding individual performances, including undefeated tournaments from brothers Jake and Jed Wade at 171 and 189 pounds respectively, and Jeremie Meisler at heavyweight.
Among the host of Skyview wrestlers to go undefeated over the weekend, Gardner pointed to Jake Saveley at 145 pounds, Dallas Seavey at 130 pounds and 215-pounder Zach Rohr as having particularly solid weekends.
He said Saveley's win Saturday over Palmer's Trevor Pempeck was especially gratifying because it showed his squad might be turning the corner this season.
"(Saveley) has not been winning the close matches until today," Gardner said. "He's been right there, so to see that was great."
Gardner said the Panthers will need to see more performances like that if they hope to compete for a state title later this season.
"It's within our reach," Gardner said.
In addition to Seavey, Saveley and Rohr, Elliot Gauthier (119 pounds), Eli Hutchison (125 pounds), Clark Buffington (135 pounds), Brandon Cleveland (152 pounds) and Tyler Wehrli (160 pounds) also swept through their matches at the Region III Duals undefeated.
Dallas Seavey said he believes this weekend's dual meets showed that Skyview is starting to come together as a team as the season starts to heat up.
"Teamwise, I thought we had a pretty good competition," Seavey said.
Rohr agreed, saying he believes the tournament gives the Panthers a good idea of what they need to work on in order to challenge teams like Wasilla down the road.
"It gives us a little confidence and an idea of what we need to work on," Rohr said.
The Panthers will have plenty of time to work over the holidays. Gardner said Skyview will send 11 wrestlers to the Reno Tournament of Champions later this month, one of the premier scholastic tournaments in the nation.
"It's probably the biggest high school wrestling tournament in the country," he said.
After that, Gardner said he'll give his squad a couple days off around Christmas before returning to the mat.
"We've got a few sore shoulders, knees, necks. We'll get 'em healed up, try to have some fun practices and hopefully get back after it," he said.
Though the Panthers were the top team, a number of peninsula wrestlers turned in fine performances over the weekend. The Soldotna Stars came away from the meet with a 3-3 record, scoring wins over Kenai, Homer and Palmer.
SoHi was led by Ben Breakfield at 160 pounds, who won all three of his matches Friday by pins before bowing out to an injury Saturday against Colony's Kyle Newman. Soldotna also got strong showings from Jacob Howarth at 152 and 160 pounds and Shane Tachick at 140. Both went 4-2 over the weekend.
Homer's Monte Garroutte was the top wrestler for the Mariners, who went 2-4 with wins over Kenai and Colony.
Garroutte went 5-1 at 135 pounds, with his only loss coming in a tight 7-6 decision to Palmer's Zach Tomco.
The undermanned Kenai Kardinals were the only team not to pick up a match win over the weekend, although there were some bright spots, as Kenai nearly took out Palmer, losing 24-21 Saturday afternoon.
The Kardinals were led by 152-pounder T.J. Olick, who racked up three individual wins in six matches.
Region III Duals
at Soldotna and Skyview High Schools
Homer 43, Colony 27
Wasilla 51, Soldotna 20
Palmer 24, Kenai 21
Soldotna 54, Palmer 35
Skyview 52, Colony 12
Wasilla 66, Kenai 3
Soldotna 59, Kenai 0
Skyview 54, Homer 12
Wasilla 59, Palmer 17
Skyview 39, Wasilla 30
Palmer 33, Homer 30
Colony 44, Kenai 3
Skyview 63, Palmer 7
Colony 37, Soldotna 29
Wasilla 66, Homer 8
Wasilla 47, Colony 31
Soldotna 44, Homer 16
Skyview 72, Kenai 0
Colony 39, Palmer 24
Skyview 48, Soldotna 11
Homer 52, Kenai 6
Team records: Skyview 6-0, Wasilla 5-1, Colony 3-3, Soldotna 3-3, Homer 2-4, Palmer 2-4, Kenai 0-6.
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