The Mariners wrestling team traveled to Kenai for the Luke Spruill Memorial Tourney on Nov. 25. Nikiski, Soldotna and host team Kenai were present.
Homer finished fourth with 68 points; Kenai won with 97.
Mariner Sean Blaine beat Austin Ozburn of Nikiski to earn a championship at 98 pounds. A first-year wrestler, Blaine is looking to vie for a conference championship this weekend at Houston. The top four in each weight class qualify for the state meet the following weekend. Blaine should be seeded first or second.
Alex Moseley, also 98 pounds, probably will get an automatic bid to the Girls State championship. She may have to bump up to 106 if there are not four competitors in the 98-pound weight class for state.
With teammate Jadzia Martin and Nikiski’s Tabby Uhzig out with shoulder injuries, Moseley is expected to be crowned with a region championship.
Two other girls on the Homer team were injured and could not finish the season.
During the regular season the girls and boys compete together, but at conference and state they compete against their own gender. The remaining girl is Heather Harrington. She lost to Nikiski’s John McCormik and will probably have to wait until state to see competition at the 220 weight class.
Both Homer girls are at opposite ends of the weight line, so they are forced to wrestle the boys each day of practice.
Jaime Rios, 132, earned an uncontested championship on Tuesday since no other school had a 132-pounder. Rios is expected to be ranked no. 3 in the conference and earn a berth to state. Rios has some wins and close matches with the top-ranked wrestlers and has a goal to place in the top six at state.
Jared Brant, a sophomore, got closer to TJ Cox from Nikiski. Currently ranked no. 3 in the state, Cox used two reversals to beat Brant 9-6. Brant took Cox down twice, though, something he had not done in two previous matches. Brant is a solid wrestler who has out-wrestled many of his opponents. Now, he just needs to out-score them. Brant will be ranked no. 3 going into the conference tourney.
Ravi Cavasos, 126, was unable to compete in Kenai, but also should be ranked no. 3 going into the conference tourney before two state ranked opponents. Cavasos has some of the best technique on the team — his High-C leg attack is clean and crisp.
Timmy Woo, 138, took second place, losing to Matt Vandermartin of Kenai. Woo pinned Vandermartin in Palmer. In Kenai, Vandermartin, who was losing 2-0, used a chip whip to toss Woo to his back and get the fall.
Woo is expected to be ranked no. 1 at the conference tourney. He leads the team with 23 wins so far.
Junior varsity wrestlers Tyler Johnson, 132, Chris Cudaback, 138, and Levi King, 152, continue to show progress.
Cudaback and King won their matches at Kenai and could surprise some guys at the conference tourney going in unseeded. Johnson was injured at Colony and had to take the week off to rest his neck strain.
Kyle Wells, 152, and Tristan Cook, 160, both will be seeded at the conference tourney. They look to qualify for state and each have had solid seasons, only losing to top-six ranked opponents in their weight classes.
Richard Brock, 285, could sneak into the state, but will need at least one win.
Junior Mathew Pollack, 182, was battling bronchitis and could not compete in Kenai. He could be seeded fourth at the conference tournament and have a shot at qualifying for state.
Seniors going to their final conference tournament include Julian Richburg, 145. Richburg could be seeded no. 4. He has a really good throw and tough cradle. If he can use those this weekend, he will be punching a ticket to state and extending his season.
Antonio Ochoa, 170, missed the last two weeks, but got back on the mat and scored a quick pass-by takedown before getting pinned in the second period by Kyle Hutner of Kenai. Ochoa looks to be seeded second in the conference and still could place at the state meet.
The final senior is Danny Rios, 220. Rios has many years of experience and will be competing in his first conference tourney. He has a great double leg takedown and will be motivated to earn a top-four spot and go to state.
The team will go into the conference tourney ranked no. 3 behind Houston and Nikiski. If all goes well, the Mariners could sneak up and knock one of the two out of the top two. Every member of the team has a legitimate shot at qualifying for the state tournament at Bartlett the following weekend.
Taking 10 to state again would really help Homer’s chances for a top-five finish at state.
Chris Perk is the head coach of the Homer High School Mariner wrestling team and the school’s activities director.