Caleb Scussel from Floyd Dryden Middle School and Luke Bell from Haines Glacier Bears square off against each other for the first of the final matches for this year’s Southeast Alaska Middle School Regional Wrestling Tournament on Saturday at Floyd Dryden Middle School. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)

Caleb Scussel from Floyd Dryden Middle School and Luke Bell from Haines Glacier Bears square off against each other for the first of the final matches for this year’s Southeast Alaska Middle School Regional Wrestling Tournament on Saturday at Floyd Dryden Middle School. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)

Southeast Alaska Middle School Regional Wrestling Tournament comes to Floyd Dryden

Over 200 wrestlers from 13 different schools.

For Floyd Dryden Middle School wrestling coach Ken Brown, school wrestling tournaments are all about building both long lasting skills and long-lasting numbers.

“Our main goal is to make sure this transfers to the high schools,” Brown said. “We want the high schools to be stronger and in order to do that we need to build up the middle schools, so that’s what we’re working on doing. The kids are really stepping up, it’s great to see.”

Floyd Dryden and Dzantik’i Heeni middle schools co-hosted the Southeast Alaska Middle School Regional Wrestling Tournament at Floyd Dryden on Friday and Saturday. Over 200 wrestlers from 13 different schools participated in the weekend’s tournament, making it the largest middle school wrestling tournament in Southeast Alaska.

Brown said both Juneau middle schools showed impressive teams this year, which for the coaches, has been encouraging to see.

“We host this every other year and on the off years we have the Harben Invitational and this year was our turn to host Southeast Middle School, so we got 11 schools from Southeast Alaska to come in; it’s been really fun and the kids are working really hard,” Brown said. “This is the first time in, I don’t know how long, DZ has a really good program and they’re kicking butt, it’s awesome to see. Juneau wrestling is really strong, the coaches at DZ have been doing an incredible job with the kids. Dryden is strong, too, we’ve got a lot of kids. It’s fun to see the kids compete, it’s pretty cool.”

For tournament results, Dzantik’i Heeni Wolverines won the boys tournament and Wrangell’s Stikine Wolves won the girls. DZ won seven out of seven of the finals matches, with the crowd erupting into cheers during the last match of the night between the two Juneau middle school heavyweights, where DZs Darrin Foster showcased his incredible courage and fortitude against Floyd Dryden’s Isaiah Galletes-Fale, according to DZ coach Jason Hass.

“I feel like the level of competition this year has gone through the roof,” Hass said. “Wrestling in Southeast is just really coming along and it’s alive and well. A lot more of these smaller communities are having teams again, iron sharpens iron, so we’re all making each other stronger.”

Hass said one of the main reasons he appreciates middle school tournaments is that it gives him an opportunity to explain to parents that their kids are able to start wrestling at any age, a point that Hass said is proven by the multiple first year-wrestlers already earning spots in the finals.

“Just because your kid hasn’t wrestled since they were 5 years old doesn’t mean they can’t start now and do really well,” Hass said. “That’s something I think parents need to realize, it’s never too late.”

Next up, the Juneau Youth Wrestling Club will host the Southeast Clash Tournament this weekend, where kindergarten through fifth graders from Southeast will come to test their newly developed wrestling skills. On March 3 and 4 the Juneau Youth Wrestling Club will take a group of middle school kids to Fairbanks for the unofficial middle school state championships, the 47th annual Tanana Invitational.

Brown said that while overall he felt his wrestlers did well, the performance wasn’t entirely up to the team’s “usual standards,” but ultimately sees the responsibility fall solely onto his shoulders.

“My wrestlers in this session did well but in the morning session, I mean you win the tournaments in consolation and we just have not been performing at the level we’re normally at,” Brown said. “But that doesn’t mean it’s from a lack of effort, the kids are giving a great effort, they’re trying their best, a lot of it comes down to coaching, I just need to do a better job. But we put nine kids in the finals, so we’re doing good.”

Winners by weight class

Boys Lightweight: Caleb Scussel of Floyd Dryden Eagles

Boys 77: Jene Keith of Blatchley Huskies

Boys 84: J. D. Keith of Blatchley Huskies

Boys 91: Landon Hill of Dzantiki Heeni Wolverines

Boys 98: Camden Messmer of Floyd Dryden Eagles

Boys 105: Hunter Carte of Floyd Dryden Eagles

Boys 110: Landynn Dunn of Dzantiki Heeni Wolverines

Boys 114: Emmanual Canalas of Dzantiki Heeni Wolverines

Boys 118: Jed Davis of Dzantiki Heeni Wolverines

Boys 122: Killian Hammock of Blatchley Huskies

Boys 126: Chassen Jacoby of Schoenbar Knights

Boys 132: Junior Jimmy of Blatchley Huskies

Boys 140: Ethan Van Kirk of Dzantiki Heeni Wolverines

Boys 148: Noah Hilson of Schoenbar Knights

Boys 160: Eli Anderson of Mitkof Vikings

Boys 174: Max Pillifant of Dzantiki Heeni Wolverines

Boys 210: Zach Nord of Floyd Dryden Eagles

Boys Heavyweight: Darren Foster of Dzantiki Heeni Wolverines

Girls 105: Hailey Cook of Stikine Wolves

Girls 113: Kourtney Barnes of Stikine Wolves

Girls 120: Ally Trugon of Schoenbar Knights

Girls 128: Abby Worhatch of Mitkof Vikings

Girls 136: Brianna Gilson of Schoenbar Knights

Girls 145: Teala Peratrovich of Metlakatla Braves

Girls 155: Sophia Contreras of Floyd Dryden Eagles

Girls 195: Clara Frank of Hydaburg Warriors

A complete list of the tournament’s results can be found at trackwrestling.com/opentournaments.

• Contact reporter Jonson Kuhn at jonson.kuhn@juneauempire.com.

Dzantik’i Heeni Middle School team captain Ethan VanKirk takes first place against Everett Meissner of the Stikine Wolves on Saturday during the Southeast Alaska Middle School Regional Wrestling Tournament at Floyd Dryden Middle School. (Courtesy Photo / Jason Hass)

Dzantik’i Heeni Middle School team captain Ethan VanKirk takes first place against Everett Meissner of the Stikine Wolves on Saturday during the Southeast Alaska Middle School Regional Wrestling Tournament at Floyd Dryden Middle School. (Courtesy Photo / Jason Hass)

Dzantik’i Heeni Middle School first year wrestler Darren Foster takes first place during the finals against Isaiah Galletes-Fale of Floyd Dryden Middle School at this year’s Southeast Alaska Middle School Regional Wrestling Tournament on Saturday at Floyd Dryden Middle School. (Courtesy Photo / Jason Hass)

Dzantik’i Heeni Middle School first year wrestler Darren Foster takes first place during the finals against Isaiah Galletes-Fale of Floyd Dryden Middle School at this year’s Southeast Alaska Middle School Regional Wrestling Tournament on Saturday at Floyd Dryden Middle School. (Courtesy Photo / Jason Hass)

The boys team for Dzantik’i Heeni Wolverines pose for a group photo on Saturday after being crowned team champs at this year’s Southeast Alaska Middle School Regional Wrestling Tournament. (Courtesy Photo / Jason Hass)

The boys team for Dzantik’i Heeni Wolverines pose for a group photo on Saturday after being crowned team champs at this year’s Southeast Alaska Middle School Regional Wrestling Tournament. (Courtesy Photo / Jason Hass)

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