The Thunder Mountain High School wrestling team brought nine wrestlers to the Lancer Smith Memorial on Friday and Saturday at the Menard Sports Complex in Wasilla.
Sophomore Jake Ferster won the 189-pound title in the junior varsity tournament, posting a perfect 5-0 record that included four pins and a 2-1 decision in the championship against North Pole’s Logan Lewellan.
Ferster and teammate Camden Erickson wrestle in the same weight class and only one could be entered into the varsity tournament. Erickson had defeated Ferster several times this season, so coaches elected to insert him into the varsity tournament.
Ferster said he harbored some doubts entering the tournament, but, “all that went away after I won my first match,” he said. “I got really excited and pumped up and ready for all the rest of them.”
TMHS coach Josh Houston said his sophomore grappler established himself as a title contender right away.
“He was clearly the better wrestler for the first few rounds,” Houston said. “Obviously, as the tournament progresses, the competition gets tougher, but the first few guys he wrestled it wasn’t much of a match, he dominated them. In the semifinals is when it started to get tougher for him.”
Erickson also wrestled well for the Falcons, winning most of his varsity bouts and making it to the cusp of the medal round. After losing to Ketchikan’s Brandon Wieber in the second round, Erickson won three matches in the consolation bracket to earn a shot at the consolation semifinals. Andrew Hamilton of Eagle River stood in his way, however, and managed to pin Erickson in just under two minutes.
“He did good coming up the back side of the bracket and just lost to a really good kid right before the medal round,” Houston said. “It’s a tough bracket — all the brackets up here are tough — but 189, it’s one of the toughest brackets.”
Senior Derek Mason also made the most of an early loss. Mason, wrestling in the 215-pound bracket, was pinned in the first round by Bethel’s Elijah Lindley but won four matches in a row to advance to the consolation semifinals against West Anchorage’s Kelton Mock. Mock won by a 9-5 decision.
“I was pretty close (to winning) but I kind of injured my knee and had to get that taped up after that match,” Mason said.
No longer at 100 percent strength, Mason lost to West Anchorage’s Elias Roehl-Paredes by a 10-3 decision to wind up in sixth place.
“Every match he lost he was in, and I feel like it really could of went either way,” Houston said. “I would not have been surprised if he placed higher in this tournament. He’s definitely up there with the top kids in his bracket.”
Jahrease Mays, Mauricio Hernandez, Ezra Elisoff, Orion Denny and Steven Ireland-Haight also won matches. Mays went 2-2 while Hernandez, Elisoff, Denny and Ireland-Haight went a respective 1-2.
The Falcons have just two meets left before the state tournament. The Sitka Invitational is Nov. 30-Dec. 1 and the Region V Wrestling Championships are Dec. 7-8 at Thunder Mountain.
The top-two wrestlers from each weight class at the region tournament advance to state.
“For the next three weeks it’s just going to be about doing whatever we can to get them to the state tournament,” Houston said.