Battling some of the fiercest competition in the state is just what the Mariners have been thriving on all season. The Lancer Smith Memorial wrestling tournament held Friday and Saturday in Palmer was loaded with multiple state champs and placers from each division, lived up to its reputation as the “toughest tournament” in Alaska.
With 18 schools competing in the 123A competition, Homer placed seventh with 36.0 and Voznesenka was 16th with 6.0. Kotzebue placed first with 203.0 and Nikiski was second with 97.5.
Mariner Jared Brant advanced to the semi-finals with two wins, including an upset of Wasilla’s Berit Stergeon. Brant, leading 4-1, took Stergeon down to his back in a bear hug and pinned him in the second period. Brant then lost a close 3-2 match with Gage Hoffman from Bethel, currently ranked first. Brant lost another close match to Quest Lema from Service before beating Westley Bockert from Lathrop 1-0 for fifth place.
Timmy Woo used three solid wins to advance to the semi-finals before losing to a tough Noah Ottum of South Anchorage 13-6. Ottum had a different style of wrestling that Woo wasn’t able to counter.
After losing to Wyatt Mcgann of Palmer 6–2 in the consolation bracket, Winn went on to pin Matt Vandermartin of Kenai in the second period, after both wrestlers had put each other to their backs, to earn fifth place.
Jaime Rios started out the tourney with a thrashing of Terry Jackson of Houston, and then lost two in a row, as did his brother Danny Rios at 220. Danny Rios scored takedowns on both of his opponents. Another couple of weeks of conditioning, and he will be primed for the state competition.
Ravi Cavasos, 126, and Julian Richburg, 145, both competed hard but couldn’t win a match.
Wrestling in junior varsity competition at the Colony Scramble last Friday and Saturday, freshman Tyler Johnson, 132; Chris Cudaback, 138; Levi King, 152; and Kyle Wells, 152, each won their first two matches on Friday night. King had to go to overtime to beat an opponent from Chugiak.
Mathew Pollack followed up with two victories as well at 182. Heather Harrington, 195, and Richard Brock continue to make progress as Brock made it past the first round for the first time this season.
Cudaback and King went on to win all their matches on Saturday to earn first places in their pools. Pollack, Wells and Johnson each lost only one match for a second place finish.
The Mariners continue their search for competition in Kenai on Tuesday for the Luke Spruill Tournament between Nikiski, Soldotna, Kenai and Homer. That is the Mariners’ final matches before the Conference Championships Dec. 5 and 6 in Houston.
Chris Perk is the activities director of Homer High School.