Soldotna High School junior Trinity Donovan took home her third straight wrestling title at the state girls tournament at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage on Saturday.
“I’ve worked so much for this and wanted it so badly,” Donovan said after her win on Saturday. “(It) feels great.”
She competed at 145 pounds and finished the season undefeated.
Soldotna head coach Neldon Gardner attributed Donovan’s win to her technique.
“She majored one and pinned the rest here today, and yesterday,” Gardner said.
Donovan pinned Lathrop’s Heaven Matheny in the final to finish the season 36-0.
Also from the Kenai Peninsula at the state girls tournament, Soldotna’s Daisy Hannevold was third at 135, Kenai’s Simone Watts was third at 160 and Homer’s Mischelle Wells was sixth at 235.
Leading Soldotna in the Division I boys tourament were Wayne Mellon at 171, Liam Babitt at 215 and Hunter Richardson at 189. They each brought home state titles for the weight class.
Mellon said that it felt great to walk away a state champion for the first time.
“I put everything I had out there,” he said.
The senior went undefeated all season, and said he was proud of his improvement.
“I spent all this time over these years and finally implemented,” Mellon said. “It feels really good to finally come out on top.”
Mellon defeated Palmer’s Preston Long 14-9 to finish the season 21-0. He had a slightly shorter season than other wrestlers because he played a major role in leading the SoHi football team to a runner-up finish in Division II football.
Babitt, a junior, won a 4-0 decision over Peter Macchione of West Valley to finish 36-0. Babitt also won a state title last season.
Richardson notched a 7-1 decision over South’s James Shivers in the final to win his first state title. Richardson had come into the tournament seeded second behind Shivers.
Gardner said he was proud of the whole Soldotna team. The Stars had designs on the first state wrestling title in school history and Gardner was after his fifth state title as a head coach, but Colony won Division I for a third straight time with 248.5 points. South was second with 236, Lathrop was third with 223.5 and Soldotna was fourth at 208.
“We ended up with three champs and two seconds on the boys,” Gardner said. “So, you know, it’s a building process and we’re getting real close.”
Jacob Strausbaugh, at 103, and Isaac Chavarria, at 145, each placed second for SoHi. The Stars lose two seniors from the team.
“They’re a great group of kids and (I’m) looking forward to next year already,” said Gardner of his 40th season of coaching wrestling in the area.
Also for the Stars boys, Trevor Michael was fourth at 135, Scott Michael was fourth at 152, Ezekiel Miller was fifth at 125, Tustin Keller was sixth at 103 and Saiyan Baker was sixth at 140.
In the Division II tourney, Nikiski’s Simon Grienier took home a state title for the Bulldogs, beating Wrangell’s Ethan Blatchley 7-3 in the final at 171. Grenier, a senior, won his first state wrestling title in his final try.
Mayaac Schmit also finished third for the Bulldogs at 285, while Sam Yerkes was sixth at 145.
Seward also produced a state champion during the tournament on Saturday. Top-seeded freshman Aiden Schilling won his division at 103 for the Seahawks.
“(It) feels pretty good, exciting,” he said. “My dad was a state champion and I’m the first freshman state champion from Seward, and the first legacy state champion pursuer.”
He topped Redington’s Caleb Metcalf with a pin in the final. Schilling said next year he hopes to win his second state title.
Hunter Kurtz also placed third at 112 for the Seahawks.
For Kenai Central, Andrew Gaethle lost a 9-2 decision to Glennallen’s Alex Buck in the finals at 152. Owen Whicker was third at 130 and Talon Whicker was fourth at 125.
Kenai head coach Jason Chavarria said his first season with the Kards was better than he could have hoped for.
“It was amazing, I had a blast,” he said. “I’m most proud of the kids, they really trusted my coaching and the system I put in place.”
Chavarria said he uses coaching strategy from the All American Training Center, and that his team adapted to the new style this season.
He wanted to give special recognition to his coaching staff, as well as Gardner from the Soldotna squad.
“They really helped me with this team every step of the way,” Chavarria said.
For Homer, Russell Nyvall was third at 145 and Nestor Kalugin was third at 171.
In the Division II tournament, Bethel took the team title with 158 points, while Redington was second with 152. From the peninsula, Kenai was ninth, Nikiski tied for 10th, Seward was 12th and Homer was 13th.