The Nikiski High School Bulldogs, along with 45 other wrestling teams from across the state, left it all on the mat Saturday in Homer at the Alaska School Activities Association State 1-2-3A Wrestling Championships.
The team competition came down the final match of the night at 275 pounds. Dan Dalle-Molle of Kotzebue defeated Petersburg's Geoff Hall 7-3, giving the team title to Bethel. Petersburg finished second, two points behind Bethel.
The Bulldogs didn't walk away with the team title. That trophy left the peninsula for the first time since the 1994-95 season, the year before the Bulldogs won their first of four straight titles.
However, Nikiski did pick up a pair of individual champions to go with one runner-up and three sixth-place finishers.
"I told the team, win or lose, give it your all. It doesn't matter what the scoreboard says if you leave it all on the mat," said Nikiski coach Abe Porter.
Anthony Lorenzo took that advice to heart, coming back from a 6-2 deficit to Tok's Bjorn Olson to win an 11-9 decision and a state championship at 152 pounds.
"I've never even placed before," said Lorenzo, a junior. "I knew I was capable of it, it just came down to how hard I practiced. Every match out there was pretty tough, especially that last one."
Olson scored four points at the end of the first period with a takedown and near-fall to take a 6-2 lead.
"I was a little bit mad that he was winning on points (after the first period," Lorenzo said. "Coach said, 'It's early yet, you can still make it up.'"
Olson was awarded one point to start the second period for an illegal hold, but Lorenzo made up the deficit in one move, scoring a point for an escape, quickly moving into a takedown and then getting three points for a near-fall and an 8-7 lead.
Lorenzo scored three more points with a near-fall in the third period, and after a reversal by Olson, hung on for the win.
Lorenzo's victory came after Lance Penhale opened the championship round with a 9-4 victory over Gerardo Arias of Anchorage Christian Schools at 103.
"It feels pretty good," said Penhale, a sophomore.
Penhale said he missed last year's state meet with a broken collarbone. He said he weighed in at 78 pounds as a freshman but had bulked up to 92 this year.
"Next year, I might be a full 103," Penhale said.
Penhale led 3-2 after the first period, and stretched his lead to 7-2 after two periods. Penhale scored a two-point near-fall to open the third period, then hung on for the victory.
"I was just trying to stay away from his spladle. That's how he pinned his last guy," Penhale said.
Josh Huhndorf finished as the runner-up at 112 pounds, dropping a 6-5 decision to Justin Gumlickpuk of New Stoyahok. Huhndorf trailed by two points, 6-4, in the third period and nearly pulled off a reversal that would've tied the match, but Gumlickpuk maintained control. Huhndorf got one more point on a warning to Gumlickpuk, but ran out of time before he could tie up the match.
"I know I tried my hardest," Huhndorf said.
Seward's Zach Coots wrestled to a third-place finish at 103 pounds, scoring an escape in the closing 10 seconds of the match to notch a 7-6 win over Jesse Moe of ACS. Moe tried a takedown as time expired, but wasn't able to finish the move before time ran out.
"It was rowdy," Coots said. "Coach (Ronn Hemstock) told me not to worry because I could go to overtime, but I really didn't want to. I couldn't even breathe.
"Third place is pretty cool. Last year I went two and out, so this is neat to win some matches."
In the competition for fifth place, Ninilchik's Steven Miller capped his career with a victory and a spot on the awards podium at 140 pounds.
"It's good winning your last match," Miller said after defeating Mt. Edgecumbe's Sam Carney 9-3.
Carney scored the first points of the match with takedown, but Miller was able to escape and took the lead with a takedown at the end of the first period.
Miller controlled the match the rest of the way, finishing with a two-point near-fall as time expired.
Miller said the tournament field was stacked at both 135 and 140. He said he bumped up to 140 after wrestling at 135 for much of the season.
"Guys are a little stronger when you move up like that," Miller said.
Miller said he would've liked to have finished a little higher on the awards podium, but "stuff happens and you've got to deal with it. You can't look back, and I don't regret anything."
A trio of Nikiski wrestlers found out just how tough things were in the lighter weight classes. Jordon McCaughey (119), Justin Tumbaga (130), and Joey Wicker (135) all wrestled gutsy matches, but came up short on the scoreboard.
McCaughey executed a reversal for two points in the third period of his match with Kotzebue's JR Swanson, cutting Swanson's lead to 3-2, but was able to escape, and McCaughey couldn't get enough leverage on the taller wrestler to get a throw. Swanson won 4-2.
Tumbaga trailed 4-2 in his match against Petersburg's Richie Deaver late in the third period. Tumbaga was able to score an escape with 10 seconds left, but ran out of time before he was able to get a takedown and lost 4-3.
Wicker trailed Cody Redford of Houston 4-2 after two periods, and despite several tries, couldn't break free from Redmond in the closing minute of the match. Seward's Doug Jones closed out the fifth-place matches with a win by forfeit at 215.
Team standings: 1. Bethel 122.5; 2. Petersburg 120.5; 3. Anchorage Christian Schools 118.5; 4. Valdez 107.5; 5. Kotzebue 97; 6. Nikiski 88.5; 7. Eielson 79.5; 8. Barrow 75.5; 9. Dillingham 67; 10. (tie) Glennallen, Mt. Edgecumbe 54; 12. Grace Christian 35; 13. Seward 34; 14. Wrangell 32.5; 15. Delta 31; 16. Houston 30; 17. New Stoyahok 28; 18. Klawock 26; 19. Unalakleet 25.5; 20 (tie) Tok, Aniak 25; 22. Kake 18; 23. Hydaburg 17; 24. Craig 15; 25. Newhalen 14; 26. Ninilchik 13.5; 27. Nenana 13; 28. Bristol Bay 12; 29. (tie) Cordova, Unalaska, Dot Lake 11; 32. Nome 10; 33. Seldovia 4; 34. Pelican 3.5; 35. (tie) Stebbins, King Cove 2; 37. Akiachak 1; 38. (tie) Manokotak, Sand Point, Hoonah, Koyuk, Gambell, Koliganek, St. Michael, Moses Peter, Galena 0.
103 -- Lance Penhale, Nik, dec. Gerardo Arias, ACS, 9-4
112 -- Justin Gumalickpuk, NSt, dec. Josh Huhndorf, Nik, 6-5
119 -- Jeremy Banner, Val, dec. Judah Allen, ACS, 10-3
125 -- Casey Graika, Val, tech. fall Kyle Lafromboise, Gle, 15-0
130 -- Velson Kugo, Bet, dec. Alex McMahan, Gle, 4-2
135 -- Harry Churchill, Wra, dec. Derek Bennett, Dil, 1-0
140 -- Jake Oyler, Pet, p. Gage Graika, Val, 3:19
145 -- Spencer Hirt, Bar, dec. Derrick Turner, Unklt, 3-1
152 -- Anthony Lorenzo, Nik, dec. Bjorn Olson, Tok, 11-9
160 -- Jim Smith, Pet, dec. Logan Dodd, Val, 6-5
171 -- Pat O'Brien, Bet, dec. Kyle Hardin, Pet, 8-4
189 -- Uriah Fellman, Del, p. Jack Packer, Bar, 3:35
215 -- Bobby Dunbar, ACS, tech. fall Zack Doyle, Val, 20-5, 5:53
275 -- Dan Dalle-Molle, Kot, dec. Geoff Hall, Pet, 7-3
103 -- Zach Coots, Sew, dec. Jesse Moe, ACS, 7-6
112 -- Jerry Hunt, Dil, dec. Kenny Balfe, Gra, 9-7
119 -- Brandon Sanbei, Ani, p. Ed Garroutte, Kot, 1:33
125 --Randy Houck, ACS, p. Gilbert McIntyre, Bet, 4:57
130 -- Travis Smith, Hou, p. Richie Diehl, Ani, 5:53
135 -- Nuk Harcharek, Bar, dec. Hans Hansen, Kot, 5-4
140 -- Kenji Badger, Eie, maj. dec. James Geffe, Gle, 9-1
145 -- Jack Carney, MtE, maj. dec. Ryan Nicholson, Dil, 11-2
152 -- Sterling Reardon, Bet, p. Vuc Jenny, Pet, 3:46
160 -- David Nolton, Kot, dec. Charles Herron, Bet, 5-4 2OT
171 -- Curtis Demmert, Kla, dec. Cody Hultquist, Gra, 4-2
189 -- Jeremiah Davidson, Nen, dec. Cliff Sheehan, MtE, 6-1
215 -- Byron Nelson, Kot, dec. Daniel Frank, Hyd, 8-3
275 -- Jeremy Raby, Eie, dec. Matthew Ashenfelter, Kak, 12-7
103 -- Earl Alstrom, MtE, dec. Jeremy Luce, Nom, 10-7
112 -- Jacob Massog, ACS, dec. Bryan Westfall, Cra, 5-0
119 -- JR Swanson, Kot, dec. Jordon McCaughey, Nik, 4-2
125 -- Josh Garrison, Wra, dec. Kevin McCambly, Dil, 7-6
130 -- Richie Deaver, Pet, dec. Justin Tumbaga, Nik, 4-3
135 -- Cody Redford, Hou, dec. Joey Wicker, Nik, 4-2
140 -- Steven Miller, Nil, dec. Sam Carney, MtE, 9-3
145 -- Matt Clarkson, Gra, dec. Skyler Palmer, Una, 12-5
152 -- Garrette Anelon, Newn, by forfeit Dustin Lie, Kot
160 -- Max Shellabarger, MtE, maj. dec. Greg Lundy, Tok, 10-0
171 -- Cliff Shellabarger, MtE, by forfeit James Wiese, Cor
189 -- Jamie Higgins, Eie, dec. Charlie Kilangak, Bet, 15-9
215 -- Doug Jones, Sew, by forfeit Tino Forsi, Bar
275 -- Josh Homan, ACS, dec. Brionne Elkins, Bar, 3-1
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