Sophomore Jake Ferster, top, workouts against senior Derek Mason during Thunder Mountain High School’s wrestling team practice on Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Sophomore Jake Ferster, top, workouts against senior Derek Mason during Thunder Mountain High School’s wrestling team practice on Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Falcons hosts Region V tourney

Ketchikan will bring tough team

A glut of state tournament bids are up for grabs between the Thunder Mountain High School and Ketchikan High School wrestling teams on Saturday.

The Falcons host the Region V Division I/II Wrestling Championships on Friday and Saturday at TMHS, performing at home for just the second time all season and first in six weeks.

Since holding the Brandon Pilot Invitational Oct. 19-20, TMHS has been well traveled, competing in meets in Ketchikan (Oct. 26-27), North Pole (Nov. 2-3), Wasilla (Nov. 16-17) and Sitka (Nov. 30-Dec. 1).

This weekend’s meet has considerably higher stakes: the tournament stands as the gateway to the state tournament next weekend in Anchorage. The top two wrestlers per weight class qualify in the Division I tournament; the best four wrestlers per weight class qualify in the Division II tournament.

TMHS and Ketchikan are the only Region V (Southeast) schools that fall under the Division I classification with student bodies exceeding 500. Mt. Edgecumbe, Craig, Wrangell and several other Southeast schools fall under the Division II classification.

But even with a relatively shallow pool of competition, the Falcons will be guaranteed a tough tournament. Ketchikan has won the last 10 straight Region V Division I team titles, and placed in the top seven at the last three state tournaments. Assistant coach Jesse Cruz has put a big emphasis on strength and conditioning this season, a factor he thinks could swing tide as several of his wrestlers look to upset the Kings this weekend.

Freshman Kadin Messmer’s lost several times to Ketchikan’s Degan Linne, but Cruz said his lightweight has “been closing the gap.”

Sophomore Camden Erickson is another underclassmen who will likely face a Ketchikan wrestler, Brandon Wieber, in the finals. Erickson is 0-3 against Wieber this season, but that has only fueled the rising sophomore’s appetite for upset.

“I think I have a good chance of winning,” Erickson, a JDHS student, said. “I think it’s definitely going to be a tough match, but I’m ready for it.”

Erickson’s confidence is well-founded, according to Cruz.

“Where it was last year, he was getting beat up by him pretty good, we’ve closed that gap and it’s been a one or two point match here or there,” Cruz said.

Erickson and the other wrestlers have had ample time to work with the coaches this season due to low numbers. Besides morning weight lifting, Cruz has also helped the wrestlers break down film to help remedy weaknesses.

“We get more coach-to-wrestler time,” Erickson added. “So it’s a smaller group of kids but I feel like it’s more in-depth with the kids that are here. I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing. All the kids are working really hard and getting a lot of good coaching.”

Overall, the Falcons will fill 10 of the 14 weight classes. Here are the wrestlers in action this weekend: Kadin Messmer (103), Ricky Ramirez Jr. (112), Empty (119), Jahrease Mays (125), Orion Denny (Girls 125), Mauricio Hernandez (130), Nate Houston (135), Blaze Darbonne (135), Kaleb Paddock (140), Empty (145), Ezra Elisoff (152), Empty (160), Steven Ireland-Haight (171), Nick Tipton (171), Camden Erickson (189), Jake Ferster (215), Derek Mason (215), Empty (285).

The Division II weigh-ins begin at 11:30 a.m. Friday with the tournament set to begin at 1 p.m. The Division I weigh-ins begin at 8:30 a.m. Saturday with the tournament set to begin at 9:30 a.m.


• Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or nainsworth@juneauempire.com. Follow Empire Sports on Twitter at @akempiresports.


Senior Steven Ireland-Haight, top, workouts against sophomore Camden Erickson during Thunder Mountain High School’s wrestling team practice on Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Senior Steven Ireland-Haight, top, workouts against sophomore Camden Erickson during Thunder Mountain High School’s wrestling team practice on Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

More in Home

Participants in a pro-choice abortion rally gather outside the Governor’s Residence on Saturday to demand a pro-life flag flying at the entrance be taken down. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Pro-choice abortion protesters march to Governor’s Residence to demand removal of pro-life flag

Rally on second anniversary of U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision also focuses on fall election.

Eddie Petrie shovels gravel into a mine cart as fast as possible during the men’s hand mucking competition as part of Juneau Gold Rush Days on Saturday at Savikko Park. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Mucking, trucking, chucking and yukking it up at Juneau Gold Rush Days

Logging competitions, live music, other events continue Sunday at Savikko Park.

An estimated 185 people, many dressed in unconventional attire for running or walking, take off from the starting line outside Centennial Hall during the Only Fools Run At Night on Friday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Juneau revives its summer solstice spirit with Only Fools Run At Night

Runners and walkers in madcap costumes fill downtown streets as race returns after six-year absence.

Jasz Garrett / Juneau Empire
A section of Angoon along the coast is seen on June 14. Angoon was destroyed by the U.S. Navy in 1882; here is where they first pulled up to shore.
Long-awaited U.S. Navy apology for 1882 bombardment will bring healing to Angoon

“How many times has our government apologized to any American Native group?”

Pins supporting the repeal of ranked choice voting are seen on April 20 at the Republican state convention in Anchorage. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
State judge upholds most fines against group seeking repeal of Alaska ranked choice voting

An Anchorage Superior Court judge has ruled that opponents of Alaska’s ranked… Continue reading

Joshua Midgett and Kelsey Bryce Riker appear on stage as the emcees for MixCast 2023 at the Crystal Saloon. (Photo courtesy Juneau Ghost Light Theatre)
And now for someone completely different: Familiar faces show new personas at annual MixCast cabaret

Fundraiser for Juneau Ghost Light Theatre on Saturday taking place amidst week of local Pride events

Lydia Jacoby, Alaska’s gold-medal swimmer, announced Tuesday she is withdrawing from the U.S. Olympic Trials. (Alaska Sports Report photo)
P.J. Foy does not advance, Lydia Jacoby withdraws from U.S. Olympic swimming trials

First-ever Juneau swimmer to compete in trials finishes 49th among 61 competitors Friday.

Juneau Mayor Beth Weldon announced this week she plans to seek a third three-year term. (Juneau Empire file photo)
Mayor Beth Weldon seeking third term amidst personal and political challenges

Low mill rate, more housing cited by lifelong Juneau resident as achievements during past term.

A king salmon is laid out for inspection by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game at the Mike Pusich Douglas Harbor during the Golden North Salmon Derby on Aug. 25, 2019. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire file photo)
Emergency order bans king salmon fishing in many Juneau waters between June 24 and Aug. 31

Alaska Department of Fish and Game says low projected spawning population necessitates restrictions

Most Read