The Mariner Mat Team looks to win their fourth straight Kachemak Conference and will vie for a chance to win the Division II State Title for the second time in four years.
Returning are five male state finalists, including senior Seth Inama, the 120-pound State Champion who looks to fill the 125 weight class; and senior Luciano Fasulo, the champion at 132 last year, who will probably fill the 135 weight class. Fasulo has not lost a match to an Alaskan wrestler for the past two years.
This season will feature new weight classes similar to what the State of Michigan uses. Alaska eliminated the 98-pound weight class and increased the weights between 120 and 152. Wayne Newman, at 140, is a three-time state finalist who spent all summer on the mat traveling to Outside tournaments and training with Team Alaska.
Junior Mose Hayes, a State Champion at 138, will move up to 152 this year. Hayes was a first Team All -Conference Selection for baseball as well. Senior Jadin Mann at 285 was a state finalist two years ago, but missed all last season with a shoulder injury. If Mann returns, he will be ranked No. 1 in his weight class.
Other seniors returning and filling out weight classes will be Ian Stovall at 130, Alex Miller at 189, and Hunter Harrington at 215. All look to qualify and even place at the state level. Stovall has won matches at the past two state meets. Sophomore Josh Bradshaw, at 160, was a state qualifier last season and looks physically stronger this year. Other sophomores Dakota Moonin at 140 and Bruce Graham at 152 both finished the season and went to the Conference tournament.
Junior David Weisser, at 145, will battle for the varsity spot this year. The team is looking at a boat load of freshmen this year. Michael Ritter will fill the 103 weight class. He was a Kenai Peninsula Borough Champion last year at 90 pounds. Zach Knott and Gavin Maupin, who were fourth at Borough’s last year, will battle it out for the 119-pound varsity spot. Kaleb Dawson and Gideon McGhee look try the sport for the first time at 112 pounds.
Borough Champions Timmy Hatfield, at 135, Seraphim Macauly at 145 and Alex Hicks at 215 will all be hopeful additions to qualify for the state meet. Sam Chapman at 140 and Kamdyn Doughty at 189 are both starting the year with injuries, but will be quality additions once they can get on the mat. Cayleb Diaz at 160 was a placer at Borough’s last year and will be a back up at 160-pound weight class to start the year.
The girls team that was third overall last year, and will see three-time defending state champion McKenzie Cook return at 145. Cook, who was an All-American two years ago, missed placing at Fargo this year by one match. Cook is looking to wrestle at McKendree College, where her older brother Tristen attends. Joining her is state qualifier Mina Cavasos at 119 or 125. Cavasos is a veteran wrestler who is committed to Team Alaska and year round practicing. Sophomores Kaya Dalke at 125, Ann Graham at 125 and Mariah Grimes at 160 all return for their second year of wrestling. Freshman Mischelle Wells at 135 rounds out the girls’ team.
Bubba Wells returns as the head coach for his second year, his ninth overall with the program. Adam Diaz, Mick Wells and Simeon Daigle will be volunteers throughout the year.
The team will host the fourth annual Fiesta Night from 5-7 p.m. on Oct. 6 in the Homer High School Commons. This is a fundraiser to help the team offset travel expenses. It will be an all-you-can eat Taco dinner with a live and silent auction.
Chris Perk is the Athletic Director for Homer High School and will be an assistant wrestling coach for the second year, his 20th year with the team overall.