JDHS senior Cody Weldon stands atop the podium at the Alaska Scholastic Activities Association state wrestling championships on Saturday. Weldon won the state title at 220 lbs, beating Service High School's Kaden Caldarera, center right. West Valley's Gideon Cole, left, took third while Isaiah Christy of Colony, right, finished fourth.

JDHS senior Cody Weldon stands atop the podium at the Alaska Scholastic Activities Association state wrestling championships on Saturday. Weldon won the state title at 220 lbs, beating Service High School's Kaden Caldarera, center right. West Valley's Gideon Cole, left, took third while Isaiah Christy of Colony, right, finished fourth.

JDHS’ Weldon wins wrestling state title

Seemingly nothing could stop Cody Weldon this year as he tore his way to the top of Alaska high school wrestling. The Juneau-Douglas High School senior worked all season with a confidence and tenacity that couldn’t be denied, winning six tournaments on his way to last weekend’s Alaska Scholastic Activities Association state championships.

So when spectators at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage saw Weldon atop the podium Saturday, it came as no surprise to see the 220-pound grappler celebrate something he’s worked for since middle school: an Alaska wrestling state championship.

“It’s been something I have been trying to get to for a long time,” Weldon said. “I’ve worked pretty hard to get here, had a lot of support from my coaches in all my sports, and I finally was able to make everything click and work. It feels pretty good.”

Weldon defeated Service’s Kaden Caldarera by major decision 10-1 in the finals. He worked through his four early round matches with three pins and a technical fall (wrestling’s version of the mercy rule) before facing Caldarera.

Weldon knew his championship opponent well, having faced — and pinned — Caldarera twice in the regular season, first at the Colony Invitational and again at the Lancer Smith Memorial tournament.

Though head wrestling coach Jason Boyer said it was “total domination” by Weldon in the finals, Caldarera’s familiarity threw a wrinkle in Weldon’s plans. His idea was to tie Caldarera up and tire him out with head pressure while looking for a takedown opportunity.

“He knew that when I tied up, A: I was going to have good head pressure, and B: I was going to look for either underhooks and a throw or head lock to throw him to his back,” Weldon explained. “He wouldn’t let me tie up, so I had to work wrist control to try and get the arm drag so I could get in for a high crotch for a single (-leg takedown). That’s how I ended up taking him down.”

Weldon had come tantalizingly close to a state title before. Last year at the state tournament, he stood one step away from his championship aspirations, ultimately falling in the 182-lbs state title match to Ketchikan senior Nate Fousel.

This year, Weldon moved up to 220 and pursued his goal with a single mind: he wasn’t about to let his last shot at a state title slip through his fingers. His success during the regular season led to a top seed at state.

But not everything went according to plan at his final tournament. Weldon expected his stiffest competition to come from Colony’s Austin Farris, whom he bested earlier this year in a tough match at the Lancer Smith Memorial tournament finals.

Farris, possibly to avoid Weldon, moved up to 285 weight class. His absence, though removing a major obstacle to the finals, led to an unexpected bracket for Weldon.

“I was a little bit happy that he moved up. I wasn’t sure why, maybe he thought he had a better chance at 285, and more power to him,” Weldon said.

An opening round upset saw Colony’s Isaiah Christy, the tournament’s No. 2 seed, fall to Palmer’s Travis Wheeler, the tournament’s No. 8, removing another obstacle for Weldon.

When speaking about his championship win, Weldon stressed his gratitude to all the coaches who’ve helped him over the years and pushed him to work hard.

“Mercer sought me out, and said, ‘Do you want to win? Do you want to be a champion?’ … He was the guy that inspired me to win and Ken Brown was the guy who made it happen. He was always the one yelling at me to run faster and do more pushups and work harder in practice. He’s probably the reason I have drive to win in wrestling. Those two guys are the biggest inspiration in my wrestling career,” Weldon said.

Boyer, who took Weldon on this year as the JDHS program merged with Thunder Mountain, said Weldon’s success came from the confluence of motivation, confidence, strength and wrestling IQ.

“He led by example,” Boyer said. “Made every practice, even when he was hurt. His work ethic paid dividends in the final stretch for win state.”

After graduating from JDHS, Weldon plans to either compete for San Jose State University in judo, a sport in which he’s a Junior Olympic champion, or accept one of several wrestling scholarships he’s been offered.

 

Mays, Rubenstein finish fourth at state

Freshman Jahrease Mays and senior Louie Rubenstein both made it to the podium this weekend at the state tournament, Mays in the 106-pound weight class and Rubenstein at 182.

Rubenstein wrapped up his final campaign by beating North Pole’s CJ Fontana by a 4-3 decision in the consolation round semis before losing a 9-2 decision to Ketchikan’s Cameron Harris in the third place match.

Mays finished a promising freshman campaign by beating Wasilla’s Alexander Logson in a 7-1 tiebreaker before losing a 6-3 decision to Colony’s Vincent Cramer in the third place match.

 

Team totals at ASAA

4A wrestling state

championships

1. Colony High School 269.5; 2. Wasilla High School 245.5; 3. Lathrop Wrestling 196.0; 4. South Anchorage High School 141.0; 5. Ketchikan 128.0; 6. Palmer 125.0; 7. North Pole 110.5; 8. Soldotna 82.5; 9. Eagle River 67.0; 10. Thunder Mountain 65.5

 

Juneau wrestlers who placed at state

106 LBS

4th: Jahrease Mays (8-4)

Cons. Semi – Jahrease Mays (Thunder Mountain) 8-4 won in tie breaker over Alexander Logson (Wasilla High School) 21-12 (TB-1 7-1)

3rd Place Match – Vincent Cramer (Colony High School) 33-6 won by decision over Jahrease Mays (Thunder Mountain) 8-4 (Dec 6-3)

 

182 LBS

4th: Louie Rubenstein (21-10)

Cons. Semi – Louie Rubenstein (Thunder Mountain) 21-10 won by decision over CJ Fontana (North Pole Patriots ) 16-9 (Dec 4-3)

3rd Place Match – Cameron Harris (Ketchikan High School) 23-12 won by decision over Louie Rubenstein (Thunder Mountain) 21-10 (Dec 9-2)

 

220 LBS

1st: Cody Weldon (20-1) Champ. Round 1 – Cody Weldon (Thunder Mountain) 20-1 won by fall over Tyler Cross (South Anchorage High School) 9-13 (Fall 3:19)

Quarterfinal – Cody Weldon (Thunder Mountain) 20-1 won by fall over Maximus Stokes

Semifinal – Cody Weldon (Thunder Mountain) 20-1 won by tech fall over Gideon Cole (West Valley Wolfpack) 30-7 (TF-1.5 4:33 (15-0))

Finals – Cody Weldon (Thunder Mountain) 20-1 won by major decision over Kaden Caldarera (Service High School Cougars) 25-6 (MD 10-1)

Jahrease Mays, of Thunder Mountain High, and Matthew Rodriguez, of Ketchikan High, compete in the 106 lb. class in the semifinals of the 4A Alaska State Wrestling Championships at the UAA Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage, Alaska, on Friday, December 16, 2016. Rodriguez won the match with a pin. (Bob Hallinen / Alaska Dispatch News)

Jahrease Mays, of Thunder Mountain High, and Matthew Rodriguez, of Ketchikan High, compete in the 106 lb. class in the semifinals of the 4A Alaska State Wrestling Championships at the UAA Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage, Alaska, on Friday, December 16, 2016. Rodriguez won the match with a pin. (Bob Hallinen / Alaska Dispatch News)

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