Carson Cummins hoists his opponent from Ketchikan High School before taking him to the mat during a tournament at Thunder Mountain High School on Friday, April 3. Cummins went undefeated during the tournament and took first place in the 112-pound division. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire).

Carson Cummins hoists his opponent from Ketchikan High School before taking him to the mat during a tournament at Thunder Mountain High School on Friday, April 3. Cummins went undefeated during the tournament and took first place in the 112-pound division. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire).

5 wrestlers start off season with first-place finishes

It’s back to the mats

It’s officially wrestling season in Juneau.

Blaze Darbonne ties up with a wrestler from Ketchikan during a tournament held at Thunder Mountain High School on Friday, April 2. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)

Blaze Darbonne ties up with a wrestler from Ketchikan during a tournament held at Thunder Mountain High School on Friday, April 2. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)

Thunder Mountain High School played host to Ketchikan, Wrangell, Petersburg, Sitka and Mt. Edgecumbe for the Brandon Pilot Invitational Friday and Saturday. The tournament kicked off a high school wrestling season that’s been repeatedly delayed and shortened by pandemic concerns.

Josh Quintal takes a wrestler from Sitka to the mats during a wrestling tournament at Thunder Mountain High School. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)

Josh Quintal takes a wrestler from Sitka to the mats during a wrestling tournament at Thunder Mountain High School. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)

While team scores weren’t kept at this year’s invitational, TMHS wrestling coach Josh Houston said he was pleased with the team’s showing.

“As a whole, we did pretty well,” Houston said. He added he’s pleased that the tournament was able to happen at all.

Houston said while the team may not have a lot of experience with high school wrestling, many of the members come with prior wrestling experience, either through club or middle school wrestling.

“We’ve got a fairly young team, but a lot of the guys come with a bunch of experience,” Houston said.

Five members of the team took first place in their respective weight classes and four TMHS wrestlers went undefeated across both days of the tournament.

[Juneau Dance teams earn superior ratings]

The four undefeated first-place finishers were sophomore Carson Cummins, who went 6-0 and won the 112-pound bracket (Cummins normally wrestles at 103 pounds); senior Nate Houston, who went 6-0 and finished first among 125-pounders; sophomore 171-pounder Jamal Johnson; and senior Camden Erickson, who went 7-0 at 215 pounds.

A referee checks to see if Jamal Johnson has pinned his opponent from Wrangell High School during a wrestling tournament at Thunder Mountain High School. Johnson eventually won the match via pin with a different hold. Johnson won all of his matches on Friday and Saturday. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)

A referee checks to see if Jamal Johnson has pinned his opponent from Wrangell High School during a wrestling tournament at Thunder Mountain High School. Johnson eventually won the match via pin with a different hold. Johnson won all of his matches on Friday and Saturday. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)

Sophomore Sage Richards went 4-1 and came in first in the 189-pound division.

Houston said he expects those standouts to have exceptional seasons this year.

In light of multiple pandemic-related delays to the start of the wrestling season, Houston said there are some things he —and just about every other wrestling coach in the region —will be working to improve as the season goes on.

“I told some of the guys, ‘Every coach will go to practice Monday and talk about conditioning,’” Houston said. “We’ll try to get as prepared as we can for a very short season.”

Jarrell Williams extends his legs to avoid being taken down by an opposing wrestler during a tournament at Thunder Mountain High School on Friday, April 2. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)

Jarrell Williams extends his legs to avoid being taken down by an opposing wrestler during a tournament at Thunder Mountain High School on Friday, April 2. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)

Up next for TMHS is another slate of Southeast Alaska opponents, Houston said.

The team will travel to Wrangell in the coming weekend and should face mostly the same teams featured at the invitational and Prince of Wales.

• Contact Ben Hohenstatt at (907)308-4895 or bhohenstatt@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt

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