The Floyd Dryden, Dzantik’i Heeni and Schoenbar Middle School wrestling teams took turns leading the Southeast Tournament right up until its Saturday night conclusion.
With a little bit of help from DHMS — who posted an unlikely victory over Schoenbar in the final round — Dryden edged tournament-host Schoenbar by the slimmest of margins, 290-278, to come away with their second tournament win in as many weeks. All in all, approximately 175 wrestlers from a dozen different middle schools competed for Southeast bragging rights.
“I didn’t think we’d actually win Southeast this year,” FDMS coach Ken Brown said. “I thought we were a year out still in the building process but the kids just really responded and they really did well. They really worked hard.”
DHMS placed third with 260 points, Petersburg had 216 points, Craig had 166 points and Blatchley (Sitka) had 141 points. Wrangell, Klawock, Metlakatla, Kake, Hydaburg and Naukati all scored under 100 points.
“We were right there in the running,” DHMS coach Loren Cummins said. “I thought the team gave it everything that they had and we had a chance to win it but a couple of matches just didn’t go our way.”
Schoenbar, Ketchikan’s lone public middle school, led by three points heading into the finals. But Dryden and Dzantik’i Heeni wouldn’t go down without a fight, and the Wolverines defeated the Knights in the 210-pound finals, giving Dryden’s heavyweight wrestler Sam Sika the chance to clinch the team title. Sika did exactly that, pinning Kyle Biggers of Petersburg.
“In a fun way, DZ helped us win our team title by pinning the 210-pounder from Schoenbar,” Brown said. “That was pretty cool.”
In addition to Sika, Dryden’s Sage Schultz (100), Jarell Williams (115), Chase Darbonne (127) and Josh Quintal (174) also placed first in their respective weight classes.
Quintal, an eighth grader, said it was nice to see the Eagles wrestling team improve on their second-place finish at the tournament last year.
“It feels great,” he said. “We have a lot bigger team (and) everybody did their part.”
DHMS had five wrestlers finish atop their respective weight classes: Colton Cummins (85), Carson Cummins (90), Jamal Johnson (140), Thomas Baxter (160) and Keith Williams (210).
“We had a good team this year,” said Baxter, who won the 148-pound Southeast title last year. “We definitely bonded a lot. There was a couple kids on the team when the season first started that were shy and didn’t really want to talk that much. But this trip opened them up more, we got closer and we definitely have a bond that’s probably not going to break for a while.”
• Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or email@example.com. Follow Empire Sports on Twitter at @akempiresports.