This past weekend the Mariners ended their Division II season at the Alaska Airline Center battling over 50 schools for the title of State Champion. The only team to beat the Mariners was from Bethel.
The Warriors defended their crown with 207 points, while the Mariners scored 196. The next closest team was Barrow at 101. The Mariners put seven boys in the finals, a mark they set last year as well. The girls squad put two in the finals, one better than last year. The girls placed fourth overall, behind the power house Mt. Edgecumbe, South and North Pole.
Junior Seth Inama at 120 scored a major upset win over Blunka Blunka Jr. from New Stuyahok. Blunka was a defending two-time champion and owned a win over Inama at (the state championships) last season. Inama, who had attended a 28 day wrestling camp this summer and has been coming to practices twice a day, scored three takedowns on Blunka and earned a 8-3 victory. Blunka told the Homer coaches that “that kid is really fast” with a huge grin on his face. Inama won 34 matches this year and lead the team with 6 technical falls.
Workout partner junior Wayne Newman at 126 pounds won 35 matches this season, and also earned a trip to the championship round, his third time being a state finalist. Newman battled Riley Rust from Monroe Catholic. After a 0-0 first period, Rust scored a reversal on Newman in the second period. In the third period, Newman, who also attended morning practices and would stay late to train after practice, hit many stand ups and nearly scored points two or three different times. Rust was able to keep Newman down for a majority of the period and once Newman escaped there just wasn’t enough time left to score a takedown.
The Mariners next sent out junior Luciano Fasulo at 132 pounds. Fasulo, riding a 96 match Alaskan winning streak spanning over the past two years, met Jesse Noden from Dillingham in the finals. Fasulo quickly scored a takedown and nearly pinned the opponent like he had done 30 times this year. The fall was not recorded and Fasulo had to continue wrestling, racking up a 13–3 lead. In the third period Fasulo went for an upper body attack that was countered by Noden putting Fasulo to his back, but the defending state champion would not be denied and bridged to his belly and finished the match winning 19-9 and sealing his second undefeated season going 47-0.
(Fasulo’s) workout partner the past two weeks, sophomore Mose Hayes at 138, then entered this circle against Kye Pearce from Hutchison, who had beaten Hayes 6-2 a month ago. Pearce only had two losses this season going into the championship match. Hayes, who has really refined his leg attacks the past month of the season, went in and scored his single leg and was able to go into the third period leading 3-2. Hayes escaped in the third period and held on for a 4-2 win, his 41st of the season.
Earning wins at the state meet were junior 132-pounder Ian Stovall and freshman Josh Bradshaw at 145. Both earned two wins apiece. Senior Richard Brock at 285 ended the season with 10 wins, none coming at the state tourney. Senior Chris Cudaback at 170 placed fourth in a tough weight class. Omar Powers from Delta scored an overtime victory over Cudaback, dropping him to the back side where he went on to win four matches before losing to Ethan Roatman from Kotzebue. Cudaback won 28 matches this season and ends his career as a two-time state placer.
Senior Tristen Cook at 182 stepped into the championship circle next for Homer. His opponent was undefeated Evan Bockman from Grace Christian School. Bockman has signed to wrestle for California Baptist University, a solid Division II school. Bockman controlled Cook most of the match and finished with a 9-2 victory. Cook ends his Mariner career as a four-time state placer, joining only three other Mariners to accomplish this. His 90 career pins ranked him No. 3 all time.
Senior Levi King at 195 won 34 matches this season including a solid 13-3 victory over Sione Tuifua from Barrow High School, Utqiagvik. King, who also plays on the football team, took much gratification beating the Barrow opponent who had helped the Whalers beat Homer in the championship football game. King pinned three other opponents getting to the finals. King, also a 2015 state champion, ended his career a three-time placer and two-time state champion.
The final senior to step on the mat was 220 pounder Kyle Wells. Wells sported a solid 36-1 record. Tanner Clark, the only loss on his record, from Monroe Catholic, was his opponent in the finals. After a scoreless first period, Clark scored the first point on an escape in the second period. Wells, who made many attempts to escape in the third period, just couldn’t break Clark’s grip to score a point and had to settle for his second straight second place finish. Wells had 25 pins this season and was one of the team captains leading the Mariners throughout the season. Wells is also a three-time place winner and two time state finalist.
In the girls competition, senior Alex Moseley at 120 entered the circle against defending state champion Raeann Jackson from North Pole, having pinned Jackson earlier in the season. Along with 22 other opponents, Moseley worked hard all match, but Jackson kept this one much closer. Moseley had to battle out of the front quarter nelson most of the match but used her grit to earn a 3-1 win. She is Homer’s first four-time girls state placer, and she went undefeated against all girls this year and finished with a 29-3 overall record. Teammates Mina Cavasos, a 120-pound sophomore, and freshmen Halle Lapp at 132 and Mariah Grimes at 160 competed tough nearly earning enough wins to place in the top six.
Junior McKenzie Cook at 145 earned her third state title against Madison Ellis from South. Ellis, who has a wicked head and arm, pinned her opponent with it in the semi-finals. Cook, who was the Outstanding Wrestler last year at the state meet, took her time and cautiously took Ellis down in the second period with a powerful HI-C attached and then added on three more points in the third period to win 5-0. Cook, now with 73 career wins and 54 coming by pin, is the new Girls Mariner Career Record holder for those categories.
A few of the wrestlers will head down to Washington State to participate in a post-season tournament on Jan. 5 and 6. Moseley will take on many of the girls from Washington and Oregon in the Kelso Girls Tourney, while six boys will head to Bremerton for the Gut Check, the Toughest Tourney in Washington.