Kenai Peninsula wrestlers took home 14 individual state championships Saturday at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage, with Homer nabbing three crowns.
“The whole peninsula is coming on strong,” Kenai Central head coach Jason Chavarria said. “Homer, Nikiski, everybody. We’re helping each other.”
The wins for Homer went to Russell Nyvall at 140 pounds in the Division II tournament, and Saoirse Cook at 126 and Roane Cook at 185 in the Girls tournament.
Soldotna senior Trinity Donovan provided the headline triumph for the peninsula, winning the state title at 145 pounds to become the third girl in Alaska history to win four state titles. McKenzie Cook also won four Girls titles for Homer from 2015 to 2018.
Donovan completed a third-straight undefeated season and was named the Girls tournament’s outstanding wrestler.
The peninsula won three of the four Girls finals matches it contested. Lathrop won the girls state title, while the Stars were third, Homer was ninth, Kenai was 27th and Nikiski was 35th.
In the Division I boys finals, Soldotna won all five of the finals it contested. Victories went to Jacob Strausbaugh at 112, Ezekiel Miller at 125, Issac Chavarria at 152, Hunter Richardson at 189 and Liam Babitt at 215.
South Anchorage was able to edge Soldotna, 275-261.5, for the team title.
In the Division II boys finals, other peninsula crowns went to Kenai’s Jaxson Young at 103, Seward’s Aidan Schilling at 112, Seward’s Hunter-Forshee Kurtz at 119, Kenai’s Owen Whicker at 135, Kenai’s Andrew Gaethle at 152. Nikiski’s Mayaac Schmit lost the title match at 285.
Redington won the team title with 172.5 points, while Kenai was second with 118.5. Also from the peninsula, Seward was 12th, Nikiski was 13th and Homer was 21st.
Both Saoirse and Roane Cook have Girls state trophies to go with the four that sister McKenzie Cook won for Homer. Tristen Cook, brother to Saoirse, Roane and McKenzie, also won a state title for Homer.
“I had my older brother and sister here with me and that really helped,” Saoirse said of Tristen and McKenzie.
Saoirse avenged her only loss of the season by defeating Colony’s Bayleigh Harrington 9-2 in the final. After winning state as a freshman, Saoirse knows four state titles also is a possibility for her.
“I would absolutely love to,” she said. “That’s what I’m aiming for.”
Roane completed a perfect junior season by pinning North Pole’s Lylah Murrah in the finals at 185. Roane won a state title for the first time as a junior. She said moving down to 185 from heavyweight made a difference, as did moving from Lathrop to Homer to get under the coaching staff of Bubba Wells.
Homer also took the Girls sportsmanship award.
Nyvall picked up his first state title in dominant fashion at 140, pinning Grace’s Josh Paulson in just 1 minute, 9 seconds.
“I was kind of expecting him to pull something out of his bag and counter me with something, but it didn’t happen,” said Nyvall, who was second as a sophomore and third as a junior.
Nyvall managed two state titles in a short period of time, winning the Division III football title with Homer in mid-October before winning the wrestling title two months later.
“We did a lot more running in wrestling than in football, for sure,” Nyvall said. “I wasn’t as conditioned getting into wrestling, but after a couple of weeks, I felt pretty good.”