Homer fought hard against Soldotna in the third-place duals at this weekend’s North-South Duals wrestling tournament, held Friday and Saturday at Soldotna Prep, only to be defeated 46-36.
Colony cruised to the North-South championship Saturday with a 52-28 dual win over Valley rival Wasilla.
In the third-place dual, Homer and Soldotna rehashed a growing friendly rivalry with another close meeting, ending again with Soldotna getting the best of Homer. The last time the Stars and Mariners met on the mat Nov. 14, SoHi left with a slim 39-34 dual win over Homer to win the Peninsula Duals championship in Nikiski.
The Stars began Saturday with a 54-27 dual win over Grace Christian, then lost 45-34 to Wasilla to advance SoHi to the third-place dual with Homer.
“It’s a good indication of where we’re at currently,” Soldotna Assistant Coach Joe Cudd said. “We still have the opportunity to get better in certain areas.”
In addition to having to prepare for the upcoming region and state meets, teams also experienced a format change, which saw the North-South meet going from an individual bracket system to a team dual bracket competition. Why is that good?
Cudd said it allows whole teams to gather at one mat to cheer on teammates, instead of having to search around four separate mats and two gyms to give support.
“We were preparing for it in a different way,” Cudd said. “It’s good for a team bonding experience, and it develops the team because everyone’s in one spot.”
Homer Coach Chris Perk, who is accustomed to the season ending in December, said his Mariners squad had three grapplers who stayed home for injuries.
“It’s hard wrestling 40 or 50 matches in seven or eight weeks,” Perk said. “It’s a grind.”
Nevertheless, Homer ended taking home fourth-place honors. Luciano Fasulo (120 and 126 pounds) went 3-1 with two pins, while Timmy Woo went 4-1 at 152 pounds, and Tristen Cook (170) went 4-1 with three pins.
Perk applauded the efforts of several Mariner grapplers, pointing out a few athletes who beat opponents to whom they had previously lost. Among them was Alex Moseley, who was pinned by SoHi’s Charles Meyer in an earlier JV match but returned to beat Meyer in an 8-7 decision in the 113-pound final.
Also, Mackenzie Cook lost twice to Houston’s Bryan Conrad, but came back to beat Conrad in a 3-1 decision at 138 pounds. Homer sophomore Levi King — who Perk labelled as the “utility guy” who can wrestle at multiple weight classes — pinned Wasilla’s Johnathan Inch in a 195-pound match.
“Those are the kinds of things that you like to see as the season progresses,” Perk said.
Perk said he still believes in winning the region tournament, and added that a top-three finish at state is attainable.
Homer began Saturday with a 43-37 dual win over Houston, then lost 73-3 to the eventual champion Colony Knights.
“Colony gave us everything they had there,” Perk said. “We’re so young and the freshman are tired, and the rest of them are wrestling twice the number of matches we usually do.”
Soldotna 46, Homer 36
98 — Wayne Newman, Hom, p. Logan Craig, Sol, :25; 106 — Gideon Hutchison, Sol, p. Jadzia Martin, Hom, 1:24; 113 — Alex Moseley, Hom, dec. Charles Meyer, Sol, 8-7; 120 — Luciano Fasulo, Hom, forf; 126 — Seth Hutchison, Sol, forf; 132 — Anthony Long, Sol, forf; 138 — Logan Schrader, Sol, maj. McKenzie Cook, Hom, 16-4; 145 — Bechler Metcalf, Sol, p. Tyler Johnson, Hom, :55; 152 — Timmy Woo, Hom, dec. Talon Musgrave, Sol, 10-3; 160 — Abraham VanHout, Sol, forf; 170 — Tristen Cook, Hom, p. Austin Schrader, Sol, 4:38; 182 — Kyle Wells, Hom, forf; 195 — Paul Wilcox, Sol, forf; 220 — Jadin Mann, Hom, p. Jared Knight, Sol, 1:05; 285 — Dalton Best, Sol, forf.