Skyview High School finally reached the top of the mountain.
The Panthers scored 249 team points to clinch their second straight Alaska School Activities Association State Fall Wrestling Championship Saturday, edging Nikiski by 20 points for the title.
"We made one more step up this week," said Skyview coach Neldon Gardner. "We had just one (individual) state champ, and two seconds, but we brought 24 kids and 22 of them scored points."
Vance Gaddis was Skyview lone individual champion, hanging on to edge Bret Evans of Petersburg 4-3 in the final.
"I was just trying not to get pulled over," Gaddis said. "I couldn't get out -- he had too much pressure on me, and I didn't want to give up any back points."
Cody Phipps wrestled to a second-place finish at 112 pounds, losing 12-9 in the final to Juneau-Douglas' Anthony Manacio IV, and Brandon Cleveland finished second for the Panthers at 130, dropping his final match 6-5 to an emotional Jesse Belgrade of Houston.
The Bulldogs placed a pair of wrestlers on the top step of the awards podium. Joey Wicker got things going for the Bulldogs with his win by pin over Nuk Harcharek of Barrow at 119, and after Chris McCaughey settled for second with his loss to Barrow's Spencer Hirt at 125, Neil Fucci claimed Nikiski's other individual title at 135 with a 3-1 win over Sitka's David Gauthier.
"It was awesome. That's just a natural rush," Wicker said after he notched his pin in 3 minutes.
Fucci said Wicker's performance added to his adrenaline.
"Joey winning it got it rolling for me," Fucci said.
Fucci said he had wrestled Gauthier last year, but hadn't seen him at all this season.
"I guess it was a good thing. I wasn't focusing on one thing he was going to do. I was able to go out and wrestle my own match," Fucci said.
Fucci said the Bulldogs were satisfied with their performance at the meet.
"We're feeling pretty good," Fucci said. "Skyview came in with numbers, as they always do. Everybody wrestled to their seeds."
Those numbers made the difference for the Panthers during the course of the three-day tournament.
"I think this year was a tougher tournament for us," Gardner said. "Last year, we had six in the finals, and five went undefeated. This year, it was a battle all the way. We were 15 or 20 points ahead after the opening round, and it stayed that way. Pin points and opening round points are big in a tournament like this."
Soldotna wrestled to a top-five team finish, claiming an individual champion as well as two runners-up.
"It's awesome. It's the most special thing I've done in wrestling to this point," said Soldotna's Colten Goracke after defeating Seward's Zach Rininger 13-8 to take the title at 145.
"I was pretty confident I was going to make it to the finals -- I've been finishing first and second all year. There were a couple of people that scared me. (Wrestling Rininger) was tough. Me and him have been back and forth all year."
Goracke said that his teammates wrestled above expectations throughout the tournament. Johnny Howarth advanced to the finals, taking second after losing to the meet's Outstanding Wrestler, Kanae Peacock of Kotzebue, by a 10-3 decision at 160.
Skyview's Cody Phipps wrestles Juneau-Douglas' Anthony Manacio in the championship round of the 112-pound category Saturday at Kenai Central High School.
Photo by M. SCOTT MOON
Soldotna's Shawn Weigle also took second, dropping a dramatic match to Glennallen's Peter Bengsten at 215.
Weigle trailed 4-2 late in the third period, but scored two points with a takedown with about 15 seconds to go.
Bengsten, though, was able to score a reversal with just four seconds left, then hung on for a 6-4 win.
Seward's Darian Draper took his second state title, though he was disappointed to have won by an injury forfeit at 152 in the final round.
"It's bittersweet," Draper said. "It's hard to accept it when I didn't beat anybody. I beat a couple of people, but it didn't come down to the big win. I wanted to hear that crowd roar one more time and it didn't happen."
ASAA State Fall Wrestling Championships
Outstanding wrestler -- Kanae Peacock, Kotzebue
Coach of the Year -- Stu Merchant, Klawock
Assistant Coach of the Year -- Steve Gillaspie, Nikiski
Team standings -- 1. Skyview, 249; 2. Nikiski, 229; 3. Juneau-Douglas, 168; 4. Ketchikan, 165; 5. Soldotna, 143.5; 6. Sitka, 141; 7. Petersburg, 134.5; 8. Dillingham, 118; 9. Kotzebue, 106.5; 10. Houston, 92; 11. Seward, 73.5; 12. Barrow, 70; 13. Homer, 68; 14. Anchorage Christian, 67; 15. Valdez, 58; 16. Bethel, 53.5; 17. Wrangell, Klawock, 39; 19. Glenallen, 37.5; 20. Ninilchik, 27; 21. Cordova, 25.5; 22. Unalakleet, 23. Kenai, Tok, 19; 25. Grace Christian, 18; 26. Craig, Newhalen, 15; 28. Stebbins, 12.5; 29. Seldovia, 10; 30. Aniak, Mokotak, Sand Point, 9; 33. Mt. Edgecumbe, 8; 34. New Stuyahok, Unalaska, 7; 36. Hoohah, Nome, 6; 38. Kake, Pelican, 4; 40. Koyuk, Gambel, Nenana, Koliganek,3; 44. Hydaburg, 2; 45. St. Michael, 1; 46. Akiachak, Shaktoolik, Koliganek, Egoak, Sleetmute, Skagway, Slana, 0.
103 -- Matt Jones, Ket, dec. Jeremy Banner, Val, 3-1
112 -- Anthiny Manacio, Jun, dec. Cody Phipps, Sky, 12-9
119 -- Joey Wicker, Nik, p. Nuk Harcharek, Bar, 3:00
125 -- Spencer Hirt, Bar, dec. Chris McCaughey, Nik, 7-2
130 -- Jesse Belgrade, Hou, dec. Brandon Cleveland, Sky, 6-5
135 -- Neil Fucci, Nik, dec. David Gauthier, Sit, 3-1
140 -- Stephen Hasektine, Ket, dec. Issac Cadiente, Jun, 3-1
145 -- Colten Goracke, Sol, dec. Zach Rininger, Sew, 13-8
152 -- Darian Draper, Sew, injury forfeit Craig Wallace, Kla
160 -- Kanae Peacock, Kot, dec. Johnny Howarth, Sol, 10-3
171 -- Vance Gaddis, Sky, dec. Bret Evens, Pet, 4-3
189 -- Darren Laduke, Sit, dec. Bobby Dunbar, ACS, 7-3
215 -- Peter Bengston, Gle, dec. Shawn Weigle, Sol, 6-4
275 -- Jerrod Harvey, Jun, p. Mike Loucks, Sit, 1:17
103 -- Josh Huhndorf, Nik, dec. Sungie Musarra, Jun, 9-3
112 -- Dallas Seavey, Sky, dec. J.R. Swanson, Kot, 4-1
119 -- Hans Hansen, Kot, dec. Jacob Madrid, Ken, 7-2
125 -- Velson Kugo, Bet, dec. Monte Garroutte, Hom, 4-2 OT
130 -- Harry Churchill, Wra, dec. Wayne Aitken, Nik, 2-1
135 -- Danny Cooper, ACS, dec. Ben Nabinger, Sky, 5-2
140 -- Ryan Savo, Dil, dec. Dalton Bergman, Sit, 11-4
145 -- Matt Haseltine, Ket, dec. Logan Dodd, Val, 10-3
152 -- John Matson, Nin, dec. Jack Marsh, Pet, 7-3
160 -- Joey Boggs, Pet, dec. Brett Erickson, Hou, 8-3
171 -- Jason Bennis, Dil, dec. Drew Ware, Pet, 3-2
189 -- James Wiese, Cor, dec. Robert Vicario, Jun, 8-5
215 -- Matt Nore, Wra, tech. fall Russell Shurtleff, Hou, 15-0, 5:45
275 -- Angelo Luna, Nik, maj. dec. Josh Brantley, Sol, 12-1
103 -- Ed Garroutte, Kot, dec. Louden Greiner, Hom, 7-0
112 -- Devion Hagen, Hom, dec. Tab Key, Nik, 8-6
119 -- Jes Boyd, Ket, maj. dec. David Leach, Sky, 8-0
125 -- Mike Lasky, Sky, dec. Matt Foy, Dil, 6-4
130 -- Kevin Thynes, Pet, dec. Jake Savely, Sky, 6-4
135 -- Donny McCartney, Dil, dec. Jake Oyler, Pet, 7-2
140 -- Tony Aitken, Nik, dec. Bjorn Olson, Tok, 3-2
145 -- Tom Wagenaar, Sky, dec. Denny Hickerson, Unklt, 9-3
152 -- Garrette Anelon, Nhln, dec. Peter Calugan, Sndpt, 12-7
160 -- Dustin Voss, Bar, maj. dec. Mark Rozak, Sky, 12-1
171 -- Todd Ghormley, Sol, dec. Curtis Demmert, Kla, 6-1
189 -- Justin Rainwater, Sky, p. Gavin Piercy, Ket, 2:20
215 -- Ryan Savage, Cra, dec. Dan Dallemoille, Kot, 8-7
275 -- Jim Pike, Ket, p. John Hamilton, Ket, 2:08
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