A familiar face stood between senior Derek Mason and the medal round at the state wrestling championships Friday in Anchorage.
Mason, one of nine Thunder Mountain grapplers competing in the two-day tournament at the Alaska Airlines Center, found himself opposite of West Anchorage’s Elias Roehl-Parades for the second time in a month. In their first meeting at the Lancer Smith Invitational, Mason lost via a 10-3 decision. If he could beat him this time, he would advance to the semifinals, and guarantee a top-six state finish, something he’d never done before.
He pored over footage of the November match with his brother and coach, and that preparation paved the way to a pivotal pin and eventual fourth-place finish in his 215-pound weight class.
“It was a totally different match,” said Mason, who was the fourth seed to begin the tournament. “It felt more like I knew what I was doing and I had a better mindset for it.”
After defeating Roehl-Paredes, Mason went 1-1 to earn a spot in the third-place match against Colony’s Jamar Toston. The two wrestlers were tied after regulation, and the match went into a sudden-death overtime period, where Toston would nab a 5-3 decision.
“I’m not too disappointed in myself,” Mason said. “I guess it just wasn’t meant to be. You win some, you lose some.”
TMHS finished 13th out of 18 Division I teams from around the state. South Anchorage took home the team title with 340 points, Colony went second with 316.5 points and Lathrop went third with 261 points. The Ketchikan Kings, who won the Region V meet the week before, came in seventh place with 75 points.
Along with Mason, freshman Kadin Messmer (103), sophomore Camden Erickson (189), sophomore Jake Ferster (215) and junior Nick Tipton (171) also posted wins. Messmer, Erickson and Ferster all finished 2-2 and Tipton went 1-2.
Messmer started the tournament with a breakthrough 8-7 decision victory over Colony’s Elias Cordell. TMHS coach Josh Houston said it was Messmer’s first-ever victory over Colony grappler. The two faced each other more than once while competing in statewide club tournaments, and Messmer always came up short. But not this time.
“The first round, I was just feeling it out, not being as aggressive just to see how he was wrestling, and I think I was doing good,” Messmer said. “In the second round I tried to come out a little more aggressive.”
Messmer faced undefeated freshman Adam Concepcion of South Anchorage in the second round, and got pinned in the second period.
“It wasn’t for lack of effort or making any big mistakes,” Houston said. “He just got outwrestled and there’s no shame in that. That kid’s just very good.”
A similar sequence played out for Erickson, who won his first match only to be pinned in the second round. Erickson won by fall over Britten Hamilton before losing to Colony’s Levi Hopkins.
Ferster, wrestling in the same bracket as Mason, lost a close first-round match to Wasilla’s Jeffrey Palmer. The sophomore was trailing Palmer by just one point when he was pinned late in the second period. Ferster again found himself trailing in points in his next match, but a takedown late in the second period swung the momentum in Ferster’s favor.
“I wasn’t really sure he was going to hang on to that one — but he did, he pulled it off,” Houston said. “It was a nail biter for sure.”
After pinning East’s Ikaika Vaivai, Ferster was eliminated by Eagle River’s Andrew Hamilton, who secured a pin in the second period.
Ricky Ramirez, Ezra Ellisoff, Steven Ireland-Haight and Orion Denny each lost two matches. Houston said Denny — the only girl on the team — deserved a lot of credit for coming out for her senior season.
“She came in and worked hard and did what all the boys did,” Houston said. “It worked out well.”
Mason and Ireland-Haight are also seniors. The former said he’ll miss being a part of a special program.
“It was probably the best four years of my life. All the coaches — I’d like to thank all of them, they’re amazing,” Mason said. “I’ve had so many (coaches) in the past years and we have so many people that come in and help out, which is amazing for our program. To thank them is not even enough.”
103 — Jeremy Bockert (Lathrop) 15-1, So. over Adam Concepcion (South Anchorage) 40-1, So. (Dec 9-2)
112 — Aedyn Concepcion (South Anchorage) 41-0, Jr. over TJ Clapp (Colony) 21-9, So. (Dec 9-3)
119 — Aidan Ehmann (Colony) 22-2, So. over Alexander Logsdon (Wasilla) 36-4, Jr. (Dec 11-4)
125 — Niko Mayo (South Anchorage) 33-1, So. over Jared Hopkins (Colony) 30-4, So. (Dec 3-1)
130 — Jacob Shack (South Anchorage) 36-1, Sr. over Gideon Hutchison (Soldotna) 38-2, Sr. (MD 13-5)
135 — Theo Cha (South Anchorage) 13-5, Jr. over Vincent Cramer (Colony) 24-5, Jr. (Dec 6-5)
140 — Rush Fannon (Colony) 27-1, Sr. over Kobe Ames (Lathrop) 26-2, So. (Dec 8-5)
145 — Trace Severson (Colony) 23-4, Sr. over Gregory Dean (Wasilla) 22-7, Jr. (MD 13-0)
152 — Christian Hudson (South Anchorage) 33-0, Sr. over Asa Barnes (Palmer) 34-8, Sr. (MD 16-4)
160 — Andrue Shepersky (Lathrop) 18-3, Sr. over Nathan Kisgen (Lathrop) 21-7, So. (Dec 4-2)
171 — Eric Christy (Colony) 13-0, Sr. over Jacob Anderson (South Anchorage) 39-3, Sr. (Dec 5-2)
189 — Bradley Antesberger (North Pole) 29-0, Sr. over Levi Hopkins (Colony) 34-3, Sr. (Dec 7-5)
215 — Aaron Faletoi (Soldotna) 27-1, Jr. over Kelton Mock (West Anchorage) 19-5, Jr. (Fall 4:49)
285 — Henry Saafi (South Anchorage) 26-1, Sr. over Poe Vaafuti (West Anchorage) 16-3, Sr. (Dec 3-2)
103 — Degan Linne (Ketchikan) 32-6, Fr. over Benjamin Pope (East Anchorage) 21-6, Fr. (Dec 4-2)
112 — Roberto Lechuga Porras (Lathrop) 16-2, So. over Colton Parduhn (Lathrop) 31-8, Fr. (Dec 8-3)
119 — Patrick Rauwolf (Ketchikan) 24-8, Sr. over Jacob Harvey (Colony) 25-10, Sr. (MD 12-2)
125 — Sabastian Benefield (North Pole) 23-5, Jr. over Octavius McCleskey (East Anchorage) 22-8, So. (Dec 10-9)
130 — William Poland (Lathrop) 33-7, Jr. over Kayden Payne (Colony) 20-4, So. (Dec 4-1)
135 — Hunter Hayes (Wasilla) 31-5, Jr. over Isaac Rodman (Wasilla) 31-8, Sr. (Dec 5-1)
140 — Wesley Wolff (Wasilla) 29-12, Sr. over Hunter Sasser (Colony) 18-8, Jr. (Dec 2-0)
145 — Brandon DeYarmon (South Anchorage) 16-1, Jr. over Isaac Coon (West Valley) 31-8, Jr. (Fall 4:52)
152 — Rylan Randolph-Oxholm (Dimond) 29-7, Sr. over Josiah Opp (Lathrop) 23-7, Jr. (Dec 5-2)
160 — Spencer Martin (South Anchorage) 16-3, Sr. over Michael Chaput (South Anchorage) 30-8, Sr. (Dec 3-2)
171 — Josh Nummer (Kodiak) 31-6, Sr. over Sean Babitt (Soldotna) 26-15, So. (Fall 4:06)
189 — Dorian Mellon (South Anchorage) 19-7, Sr. over Sean Michel (Lathrop) 19-16, So. (Dec 5-4)
215 — Jamar Toston (Colony) 28-6, Sr. over Derek Mason (Thunder Mountain) 31-7, Sr. (SV-1 5-3)
285 — John Fitzpatrick (East Anchorage) 19-7, Sr. over Melvin Lloyd (Soldotna) 13-12, Jr. (Fall 2:26)