Popeye wrestlers win 9 state titles, 43 medals in championship action

More than 1,000 wrestlers packed into Wasilla’s Menard Sports Complex last weekend for three days of state tournament action. Homer’s Popeye Wrestling Club finished their season earning 43 medals throughout the ranks of their 35 competitors. 

Junior Calvin Johnson led the pack, becoming Homer’s only Triple Crown Winner, defeating North Star’s Aaron Drake three times in the three days of competition. Drake placed third in the high school wrestling season in the same weight class (113 pounds) as Johnson. 

Popeye’s Jared Brant fared well against his task at 100 pounds, taking second place in both Folkstyle and Greco before going on to win the Freestyle Championship. Brant earned his title by winning all three matches on Saturday. Head Coach Chris Perk noted “his performance was rock-solid all weekend and very focused on the task at hand.”

Homer High Senior Mark McGregor wrestled at 170 pounds in a bracket featuring three high school state champions, two runnerups and a third-place finisher. In Folkstyle, McGregor picked up wins against Sam Zimmerman from Lathrop and Brandon Phillips from Kotzebue to earn a third-place finish. The next day he placed fifth in the Greco competition, beating state champion Isaak Deaton from Valdez before taking fifth place in Freestyle action defending his previous loss to Lathrop’s Joe Dickinson. 

This fall, McGregor plans on attending Pacific Unversity in Oregon to pursue his wrestling future with hopes of trying out for their football team as well. 

At 112 pounds, middle school stand-out Teddy Croft took second place during Thursday’s Folkstyle tournament and third place in the Freestyle tournament as he battled and fell to the nationally ranked Paul Steffenson of Kenai all three days. 

During the girls tournament, Popeye’s Mischell Wells (Novice 65), Allison Wells (Novice 85), McKenzie Cook (Novice 95), Jazida Martin (Cadet 100) and Heather Harrington (Cadet 220) all earned State Championship titles. 

Harrington also took third place in the Folkstyle and second in the Freestyle bracket while Cook and Martin both went on to place in the top five in the Freestyle tournament as well.