Mariner mat team sends 12 to state meet

For the second season in a row, the Homer Mariner wrestling team will be sending 10 wrestlers to the boys state tournament. In addition, the team also will be sending two girls to the first-ever all state girls tournament.

Alex Moseley, a freshman at 98 pounds, was the only competitor in the conference and received an automatic berth to state. She will have two other competitors at the state tournament to battle for a state title. Heather Harrington, 220, also earned an automatic bid with no one to compete against at conference. The girls have had to compete against boys all season until the conference and state meet. Harrington should have at least two or three competitors this weekend. Three other girls this season were injured and could not finish including last year Conference Champion Jadzia Martin. 

The team championship was close all weekend. After the first day, Homer had a small lead. Then the numbers that Houston and Nikiski brought took over. Houston had 28 wrestlers, Nikiski 20 and Homer 15. The final team score was Houston 220, Nikiski 206.5 and Homer 204.  All three teams are ranked in the top five in the state behind Bethel and Kotzebue. 

Freshman state qualifiers were Sean Blaine, champion at 98 pounds; Tyler Johnson, fourth place at 132; runner-up Kyle Wells at 152; and Tristan Cook, runner-up at 160.

The freshman scored a lot of points for the team. Cook upset the third-ranked wrestler in the state, Zach Young of Grace Christian School. Cook scored a takedown at the end of the first period and then was able to pin Young in the second period. Wells upset Christian Webb, also from Grace, who was the no. 2 seed in the conference. Both wrestlers lost in the finals to veteran wrestlers from Nikiski. Tyler Johnson out-scored Garrett Bond of Grace in the second round of the tournament to help punch his ticket to state.

The fearsome foursome sophomores all qualified for State. Jared Brant lost another close match to TJ Cox of Nikiski. Brant has lost three matches to the no. 2 ranked wrestler, all less than three points. Brant came back for a strong third-place finish as did Ravi Cavasos at 126. Cavasos was able to pin the no. 3 seeded Joe Perkins of Grace. Jaime Rios, at 132, lost a match to Etienne Kinney of Houston, ranked no. 5 in the state, 7-0. He came back to take third. Rios has some big wins over ranked opponents and knows how to get big wins at state meets.

Timmy Woo, the no. 1 seed in the tournament, won the championship with two solid victories, including a major decision over Terry Jackson from Houston in the finals. Woo, ranked no. 3 overall in the state, has 25 victories this season.

Seniors Julian Richburg, 145, and Danny Rios, 220, each ended their seasons. Richburg earned a victory before getting eliminated before the state qualifying round, but placed fifth overall. He was awarded the Good Sport Award for his demonstration of good sportsmanship all season. Rios had a couple of tough draws and could not get a win.

Freshmen Chris Cudaback, 138, Levi King, 152, and Richard Brock, 285, made big gains this season, but fell short at the tournament. King placed sixth overall.

Final state berths go to junior Matthew Pollack, 182. He wrestled aggressively and placed third, beating Ian Johnson of Nikiski with an injury default. Senior Antonio Ochoa, 170, earned a runner-up performance. He beat Matthew Morris of Seward to get to the finals. Ochoa scored on Arin Paul of Houston early in the first period, but was pinned in the second period. 

The team is looking for a top-five finish this weekend and five state placers. This team is much younger than last year as four seniors graduated last year, but very experienced on the mat.