The Homer High School wrestling team closed the season with a banquet at the Best Western Bidarka Inn on Jan. 9, celebrating their players and the team’s state championship win. Head wrestling coach and athletic director Chris Perk congratulated his players on sticking to their team motto of “embrace the grind,” which he attributed to their success.
“Because of the condensed season that we’re in, to come in everyday and feel the burn and to get after it. And I felt that that motto, if we could keep with it, it would push us through, and thankfully it did,” Perk said to the room full of wrestlers and their families.
In addition to taking home the state championship as a team, the individual players excelled at the state competition. Ten male wrestlers placed across the board for their weight classes, starting with Timmy Woo and Levi King as state champions.
Though Woo took home a state champion title for himself, he said the highlight of the season was the team’s state championship win.
“I was pretty excited. It was our goal and halfway through we weren’t sure if we were going to win state, then we got to state, everyone scored and we had a lot of points,” Woo said.
Wayne Newman and Jared Brant took second place at state, followed by Teddy Croft, Tristen Cook and Kyle Wells in third. Jaime Rios and Jadin Mann placed fifth and sixth, respectively.
Though the girls started placing in state just a season ago in 2014, the female wrestlers represented the Mariners by placing in their weight classes this year as well. McKenzie Cook won the state champion title, much to her surprise.
“It was really exciting and fun at the same time. I didn’t actually expect to take it. I expected to take at least second. I didn’t expect to beat the opponent who had beaten me before, but I did. It was mostly because of (assistant coach) McBells, he helped me and he worked with me throughout the season, he made that possible for me to be first,” Cook said.
Following close behind Cook, teammates Jadzia Martin and Heather Harrington took second place at state. Katie Rios placed third, Alex Moseley placed fourth and Allison Wells placed fifth.
Perk honored Martin, a graduating senior, at the banquet and congratulated her on an excellent career wrestling for the Mariners. He emphasized her 68 career wins in the four years she wrestled at Homer High, which were preceded by six years of wrestling prior to high school. Martin is considering wrestling in college and currently is thinking about going to Southern Oregon University, she said. Looking back at her high school career, she said one of the highlights of those four years was the ability to be an example for the other girls on the team.
“When I took regents against the boys my sophomore year, I was the first girl to ever do that. It was pretty cool because I wasn’t expecting to be able to do that. It’s kind of scary but it was nice to know that I could … and a lot of the girls are wanting to do something like that,” Martin said.
The hard work put in by the team and the support of their parents played a huge role in the state championship win, Perk said.
“It’s been a great feeling, it’s just been a lot of work. This is my 18th year coaching in Homer and it’s taken this long to do it. … It’s taken that long to develop a culture of success,” Perk said.
Perk said he looks forward to another winning season for 2016, as he said this year’s success had a lot to do with a group of freshmen, sophomore, juniors that have been wrestling in the Popeye program for a long time and now have moved up to high school together. With the current talent on the team, Perk said that the Mariners have the potential to stay at the top for the next four years.