Mariner wrestlers launch winning season

In its first away-match of the season, the Mariner wrestlers had some impressive results at Skyview on Saturday, including the freshmen wrestler’s 10-out-of-12 wins.

“Jared Brant, 106, pinned two Houston wrestlers, dominating both of his opponents with leg-attack takedowns. Ravi Cavasos, 120, scored a :20 pin against Braydn Tanner from Skyview and then won 12-10 over Etienne Kinney of Houston,” said Head Coach Chris Perk.

“Cavasos built up an 8-2 lead before Kinney made a monster come back. Cavasos had just enough left in the tank to hold on to his lead.”

Wyatt Lewis, 145, pinned both of his opponents in the first period. On his back against Skyview’s Ben Hadfield, Lewis had a bridge that took Hadfield to his back and Lewis pinned him.

“One of the highlights was Heather Harrington, wrestling at 220, who pinned both her opponents,” said Perk.

“She used a power half in both matches. Her second match against Will Olsen of Nikiski was hard fought. She was able to hold off pinning combinations and then in the third period she took her elbow on the back of Olsen’s head and used her other hand to apply pressure on the neck and turn Olsen to his back for the pin.”
Jaime Rios, 126, and Andrew Doughty, 145, each won and lost a match on Saturday. Rios didn’t get pinned in his match up with Ryan Winter a junior from Skyview, and then went on to pin Sam Chapson from Houston in :30 seconds. Doughty lost to state-placer Tyler Handley from Nikiski.

Junior Danny Rios, 195, pinned James Gallagher from Skyview in his first match. Both wrestlers battled putting each other on their backs twice before Rios finally pinned Gallagher.

Senior captain Calvin Johnson, 113, dropped two tough matches, beginning with a loss to state-placer Austin Craig from Skyview.

“The match was close the whole way,” said Perk. “Johnson had Craig on his back in a cradle, but Craig wouldn’t give up and forced overtime where he was able to shoot and take down Johnson.”

Craig’s second match was against Seth Hutchison, a 98-pound state champion. Johnson started out with a 4-0 lead after a takedown to Hutchison’s back and two near-falls. Using three different arm bars to score 9 points, Hutchison eventually pinned Johnson in the third period.  
While many members of the team lacked enough practices to compete or were academically ineligible, Perk anticipates the Mariner wrestlers will be at full strength for the Best Western Bidarka’s Round Rumble on Saturday at Homer High School. 

This is Perk’s 16th year coaching wrestling in the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, 13 of those at Homer High. He also teaches physical education and health.

A Homer High alumnus, Perk was a two-time state placer during his high school years. At Pacific University in Oregon, in 1995 and 1996 Perk was named an All-American Champion, taking eighth- and sixth-place for the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics. As an adult, Perk continued to wrestle competitively through the Popeye Wrestling Program.

“Now, I’ve retired from competing the past two years. I’m into coaching at this point now,” he said, noting the life lessons wrestling offers.

“The biggest is getting off your back,” he said. “There are so many times in life when you get thrown on your back and you can either choose to stay there with a life that probably is not very happy or you can build some resilience, dedicate yourself to something, get yourself off your back and get back into life. That’s the biggest thing I like about the sport, it teaches you a lot of self-determination.”

Wrestling’s one-on-one competition adds another element of the sport.

“It’s a true representation of the work you’ve put into it. In life, those are the people we like to work with,” said Perk.

About 20 Homer High students are involved in wrestling this year, including the strong group of freshmen that already has accumulated wins through the Popeye program.

Returning to the team are state-qualifiers Calvin Johnson, 113; Pedro Ochoa, 152; Austin McGregor, 138; and Jordan Reynolds, 195. 

“Team captain Calvin Johnson won the Conference Championship last year and placed fifth at state,” said Perk. “His personal goal is to make it into the state finals this year.”

Ochoa led the team in numerous statistical categories last season, including 34 wins and 72 takedowns. If his name sounds familiar, it’s may be because of his speed on the Mariner cross country team and his fifth-place finish in the state cross country individual boys competition in Anchorage, helping secure a third-place team win.

Additional team members transitioning from other activities include Brant, a cross country runner who placed 30th in a field of 119 runners in state competition; Alward, who placed 54th at the state cross country meet; David Jack Woo, who just finished up the football season; and Austin McGregor, another football player.

New to Mariner wrestling is Julian Richburg, a transfer student from Colorado.

In addition to Harrington, there are two other girls on the Mariner wrestling team: sophomore Jadzia Martin, 106; and junior Alicia Anderson, 138. Perk attributed an increase in girls on the team to HHS alumna Tela O’Donnell, who competed in wrestling during the 2004 Summer Olympics. 

With two hours of training each day, Perk has a clear objective for the Mariner wrestlers.

“The team goals this season are to place in the top 10 at the state meet and take 20 wrestlers to the region tournament,” he said.

McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at

Mariner wrestlers

Friday: Mariner Mat Team Wrestling Clinic

For Homer area youth

At Homer High School mat room

Ages 5-8: 9:30 a.m.

Ages 9-15: 9:30 a.m.-noon & 12:30-3:30 p.m.

Cost: $10 for morning, $20 for all day

Registration: 8:45-9:15 a.m. in the mat room

Saturday: Best Western Bidarka’s Round Rumble

At Homer High School

Wrestling begins at 10:30 a.m.

Free admission for Popeye Wrestling
Club members