The Homer Mariners placed five wrestlers in the top 6 this weekend at the ACS Invitational and Timmy Woo, 138, placed third overall out of nearly 40 wrestlers.
Forty-five teams showed up from around the state for the Biggest Small School tourney in the state. Homer scored 123.5 points en route to a sixth-place overall finish. Kotzebue won the tournament with more than 200 points. Homer soared as high as second-place most of the first day of the tournament.
Friday was one of the Mariners’ best days of wrestling. Only three of the 16-member team are not ninth and 10th graders. This young squad brought a lot of energy and “never say die” attitude to the meet.
Woo won five matches with only one loss to defending state champion Leif Erickson from Nome 7-5. Woo took him down twice, but couldn’t get the third before time ran out.
Jared Brant, 120, placed fourth, nearly making it to the finals. He was in a tight 2-2 battle with No. 1 seeded TJ Cox of Nikiski that ended going in overtime. Brant scored an escape in double overtime, but Cox scored a spin behind with only two seconds left to earn a trip to the finals.
It was one of the most exciting matches of the tournament.
Jaime Rios, 132, won his first three matches including a pin of the third-place finisher Kennan Spencer from Ketchikan. Rios then lost three close matches in row, including a heartbreaker to Aaron Olson of Bethel. Rios tied up 2-2, looked as if he scored a reversal with one second left in the third period and won 4-2, but the scorekeeper said time ran out before he scored. The match went to overtime and Olson scored a takedown and earned a 4-2 win.
Freshman Tyler Johnson, in his first high school tournament, won three matches including a pin over Carl Charlie of Bethel. Johnson scored his fireman’s carry takedown many times and fought tough in his losses.
Ravi Cavasos, 126, won three matches as well. His losses were to Evan Bockman of Grace, who was the runner-up, and Manny Budke of Hoonah, a state runner-up last year.
Freshman Tristan Cook, 160, earned a fifth-place finish over the weekend, winning a team high of six matches. He also improved his performance in the match against Nikiski’s Nathan Carstens, who became the champion of the meet. In the previous week, Cook lost 9-1 to Carstens and this week is was 9-5.
Final team placer was Antonio Ochoa at 170 pounds. Ochoa had a stacked weight class with a couple of returning state champs and runners-up. Ochoa put together three solid wins and also got a victory by injury default.
Freshman Kyle Wells, 152, and Levi King, 145, each earned two wins. Girl wrestlers Alex Moseley, 98, and Heather Harrington competed against the boys and earned some valuable mat time. Harrington pinned Greg Ishnook from Newhalen for her first win of the season.
The team will head to Kotzebue this weekend to battle Kotzebue, Nome and Barrow in the Bush Brawl. Nome and Barrow placed eighth and ninth respectively at ACS.
The team looks forward to the next couple of weeks of strong competition. The team has lost a few close battles, but hopefully that can reverse that and win those close matches in the next few weeks.
Chris Perk is the Homer High School head wrestling coach. He also is the school’s athletic director.