Thunder Mountain High School is bringing its strongest and deepest wrestling team in at least three years to this weekend’s ASAA Division I state championships in Anchorage.
Five of the 11 Falcons qualifiers have 18 or more wins this season, and each of those five nabbed one of the top four seeds in their respective weight classes. The Falcons had three fewer qualifiers in each of the last two years.
“That’s really impressive to have half of your team seeded that you’re bringing up there, at least for Juneau,” TMHS coach Josh Houston said.
Freshman Carson Cummins (23-3) is seeded third, sophomore Kadin Messmer (22-4) is seeded fourth, senior Nick Tipton (24-2) is seeded third, junior Camden Erickson (20-0) is seeded first and junior Jake Ferster (18-4) is seeded third. Houston said the coaching staff is also petitioning for a sixth Falcon, senior Jahrease Mays, to get seeded. Only six of the 16 wrestlers in each weight class receive seeds, which helps prevent the strongest wrestlers from squaring off in the early rounds.
The first three rounds and championship semifinals take place Friday and the consolation bracket and state championship matches are slated for Saturday at the Alaska Airlines Center. TMHS qualified at least one wrestler in 10 of the 14 total weight classes. The Falcons qualified two wrestlers in the 140-pound weight class and one each in the 103-, 112-, 125-, 130-, 160-, 171-, 189-, 215- and 285-pound weight classes.
Erickson has been the Falcons’ top wrestler all season, and is looking for his first state championship.
“With him it’s going to more keeping him grounded and not letting it become cocky, but letting him feel confident,” Houston said. “There’s that fine line between confidence and cockiness and he’s not getting cocky, he’s staying where he should be, but it’s just going to be reinforcing that and telling him to remember go in and treat every match as serious as the finals match.”
Houston said less of an emphasis will be made this week on pinning opponents than last week. He said the Falcons realistically don’t have a shot at securing the Division I team title at the state meet like they did at the Region V Championships.
“We want to place as high at state as we can, but we’re not a contender to win a state title as a team,” Houston said. “So the point of getting pins at this point is just to get (matches) over with, not take any chances. If you got a chance to put a guy away, put him away, don’t give him a chance to come back and win the match.”
Wrestlers that finish in the top-six in their respective weight class score additional points for their team.
• Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or email@example.com.