Thunder Mountain High School senior Liam Hart uses a cradle to pin Ketchikan High School junior Easton Yoder in the 189-pound Division I championship match of the 2023 ASAA Region V wrestling tournament Saturday at TMHS. (Klas Stolpe/ For the Juneau Empire)

Thunder Mountain High School senior Liam Hart uses a cradle to pin Ketchikan High School junior Easton Yoder in the 189-pound Division I championship match of the 2023 ASAA Region V wrestling tournament Saturday at TMHS. (Klas Stolpe/ For the Juneau Empire)

Thunder Mountain wins historic Region V wrestling championship, ending Ketchikan streak

Eight Juneau grapplers earn Southeast weight division titles

Nothing was going to stop Thunder Mountain High School senior Liam Hart from winning his 189-pound title bout during Saturday’s Region V Southeast Tournament Championships on Saturday in the TMHS “Thunderdome” gymnasium.

“Yeah, I was really pumped, really excited,” Hart said of avenging a loss by pin two weeks ago in Wrangell to Ketchikan junior Easton Yoder. “I came into that match knowing I could win it. I knew it would be a hard match. I was looking for revenge to win regions and I got it.”

Hart took Yoder down 40 seconds into action and survived a near fall with 20 seconds remaining in the first round by exploding off his back to reverse position and drive Yoder out of bounds. During reset, he sprinted to a mat-side bucket to dry heave. All refreshed, Hart took Yoder down six seconds into the second round and pinned him 40 seconds later — with a cradle.

“I was just ready,” he said. “As soon as I did the bucket, I was ready to get back on the mat and go win that. I knew he would try to cradle me, and I used the move against him. I didn’t drink anything or something, I didn’t feel good…but I came out with the W and won regions.”

Thunder Mountain High School freshman Camden Messmer pins teammate Landyn Dunn in the 112-pound Division I championship match of the 2023 ASAA Region V wrestling tournament Saturday at THMS. (Klas Stolpe/ For the Juneau Empire)

Thunder Mountain High School freshman Camden Messmer pins teammate Landyn Dunn in the 112-pound Division I championship match of the 2023 ASAA Region V wrestling tournament Saturday at THMS. (Klas Stolpe/ For the Juneau Empire)

Hart’s heroics were one of many from the TMHS wrestling team, comprised of Falcons and Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé Crimson Bears.

TMHS won eight individual weight class titles Saturday, six runner-up and four consolation (third-place) finishes, totaling enough points over the weekend, 236.5 to Kayhi’s 186.5, to end the Kings 15-year streak and win a first-ever team grappling championship for TMHS and advance 15 Falcons on to the ASAA State Wrestling Championships in Anchorage on Friday and Saturday.

“I kind of always knew it was going to come,” TMHS head coach Adam Messmer said. “We have been building this program for a long time. I have been watching these kids coming up since they were 4 years old. It was just a matter of them getting in the right spot at the right time. We have seen this wave coming and it is coming home to crash now. It is great to break Ketchikan’s streak, but I think we have our own streak to create.”

First on the mat, TMHS 112-pound freshman Camden Messmer continued his season dominance with a pin over classmate Landyn Dunn in the third period.

“Me and Landyn have been wrestling every single tournament for first,” C. Messmer said. “I beat him once in Craig and in Ketchikan, and he beat me in the Juneau tournament. I think I was just in the right mindset today. It feels good to be part of the team that dethroned Ketchikan to win regions. Now we can start our streak.”

Thunder Mountain High School grappler Jed Davis, a Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé freshman, takes down Ketchikan High School sophomore Jack Styles in the 125-pound Division I championship match of the 2023 ASAA Region V wrestling tournament Saturday at TMHS. Davis won by fall. (Klas Stolpe/ For the Juneau Empire)

Thunder Mountain High School grappler Jed Davis, a Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé freshman, takes down Ketchikan High School sophomore Jack Styles in the 125-pound Division I championship match of the 2023 ASAA Region V wrestling tournament Saturday at TMHS. Davis won by fall. (Klas Stolpe/ For the Juneau Empire)

TMHS 125-pound freshman Jed Davis, who attends JDHS, put a blank slate on KTN sophomore Jack Styles before pinning him midway through the second period.

“Exciting to win in my first-ever regional tournament,” Davis said. “Plus the team won, first time in 15 years, a pretty good feeling. It means a lot to help the school…to finally pull it off feels great. I look up to my peers always, the upperclassmen have been great mentors the whole entire year. We had a great freshman class come in, too. I am proud of myself and proud of the team.”

TMHS 145-pound junior co-captain Hayden Aube won by 16-6 major decision over KTN sophomore Cayden Harney, scoring with three escapes, two near falls and two takedowns.

“I feel great,” Aube said. “I just kept rolling around, kept wrestling him even at my most tired moments. It was a grind, I’m happy to finally dethrone that 15-year win streak and hopefully Thunder Mountain can start one twice as long. We have a great bond together. We are always at each other’s matches, cheering each other on…this team is great.”

TMHS 152-pound junior Justus Darbonne, a team co-captain, won by a 12-1 major decision over sophomore teammate Alex Marx-Beierly.

Thunder Mountain High School junior Hayden Aube attempts to pin Ketchikan High School sophomore Cayden Harney in the 145-pound Division I championship match of the 2023 ASAA Region V wrestling tournament Saturday at TMHS. Aube won by 16-6 major decision. (Klas Stolpe/ For the Juneau Empire)

Thunder Mountain High School junior Hayden Aube attempts to pin Ketchikan High School sophomore Cayden Harney in the 145-pound Division I championship match of the 2023 ASAA Region V wrestling tournament Saturday at TMHS. Aube won by 16-6 major decision. (Klas Stolpe/ For the Juneau Empire)

“After all the years I have been wrestling, we have been striving and striving to beat Ketchikan and win by points,” Darbonne said. “We did it as a team this year. Our team bond was so strong. Everyone was working hard at practice and showed out at regions. To be a region champ means a lot…I’m really excited. I wanted to beat a Ketchikan kid in the finals, but Alex is a really good kid and he has been working really hard in practice and he gave me a good fight.”

One of the more experienced grapplers on the team, Darbonne said a team’s culture comes from “the love and how close the wrestling family is. Each team has their own different things they do, their own warm ups, they all love each other a different way. It is a really close bond. It is really good to see. Each team supports their people. Even if they are losing they keep supporting and that brings more and more people to the wrestling room.”

TMHS 160-pound junior co-captain Carvin Hass won by fall over KTN sophomore Amook Bullock 51 seconds into the second period.

“It was nerve-wracking,” Hass said of an opponent he had beaten at Kayhi earlier in the season. “It was closer than it should have been. I just made sure to stay on top of it and not get too close. He is really funky, a great roll-through guy. If you get him on his back you can’t keep him long…I just made sure to stick him hard and not let him go.”

Thunder Mountain High School junior Justus Darbonne works to turn TMHS sophomore Alex Marx-Beierly in the 152-pound Division I championship match of the 2023 ASAA Region V wrestling tournament Saturday at TMHS. Darbonne won by 12-1 major decision. (Klas Stolpe/ For the Juneau Empire)

Thunder Mountain High School junior Justus Darbonne works to turn TMHS sophomore Alex Marx-Beierly in the 152-pound Division I championship match of the 2023 ASAA Region V wrestling tournament Saturday at TMHS. Darbonne won by 12-1 major decision. (Klas Stolpe/ For the Juneau Empire)

Hass, a team captain, said beating a KTN wrestler in a region championship to end their streak “feels awesome, feels inspiring. I know this sounds stereotypical, but our team is a brotherhood. We are just constantly cheering each other on and supporting each other. It is great to be in the room with all of them, freshmen to seniors, it has been an incredible year.”

TMHS 171-pound freshman Jaxin Jim dominated KTN freshman Wyatt Balluta before pinning him 15 seconds into the final period.

“I feel good but I guess I have to prepare for state now,” Jim said. “Had to been in the match mindset but also be happy to be here, happy for the team. I came out with a lot of energy, I was real happy. It feels good to beat Ketchikan after such a long time, I mean, it is in my age that we haven’t won… I am glad we sealed the bag and won over Ketchikan for regions.”

TMHS 285-pound freshman Darren Foster booked his ticket to state just halfway through the first period pinning KTN sophomore Brian Burns without giving up a point.

“It meant everything to me,” Foster said. “I won regionals (middle school) last season and wanted two in a row. It feels great having the team supporting me, everybody cheering me on, and ending Ketchikan’s streak. This season has been amazing, everybody on the team has been awesome, I can’t wait for next season.”

TMHS 215-pound junior Denali Schijvens, who attends JDHS, wrestled his best match of the season, but lost 5-4 to KTN junior Paul Thompson.

“I’m actually pretty happy,” said Schijvens, who suffered a harsh defeat to Thompson during the season. “I did as good as I could have done. I had a very probable reversal at the end…all I had to do was get my leg back.”

Thunder Mountain High School junior Carvin Hass attempts to pin Ketchikan High School sophomore Amook Bullock in the 160-pound Division I championship match of the 2023 ASAA Region V wrestling tournament Saturday at TMHS. Hass won by fall. (Klas Stolpe/ For the Juneau Empire)

Thunder Mountain High School junior Carvin Hass attempts to pin Ketchikan High School sophomore Amook Bullock in the 160-pound Division I championship match of the 2023 ASAA Region V wrestling tournament Saturday at TMHS. Hass won by fall. (Klas Stolpe/ For the Juneau Empire)

Schijvens trailed by a point with 20 seconds remaining but Thompson held on for dear life as time expired.

“I am disappointed I didn’t get that, but the disappointment is outweighed by they fact that I was actually able to go toe-to-toe with him, going the distance, Rocky right? So I am happy with that, and I get to go to state! And we stopped the 15-year streak. That is the year I was born was the last year we won this championship, which is insane to think about.”

Schijvens, known for his good nature, said he surprised coaches this season when he returned “a little bigger…I’ve tried to eat as much as possible but I’m still like 20 pounds under the weight class though and that makes it a lot harder…that’s a massive disadvantage. Everyone else is cutting to make it, I am under and eating. I keep my spirits up with a little Bob Marley, a little reggae music. I don’t know, just a positive outlook on life.”

Normally a loss in the championship match would still send a grappler to state but a recent “wrestle back” rule allows a third-place wrestler, if he hasn’t faced the No. 2 in the tournament, to grapple for the second state berth. Those matches were held after the finals.

TMHS 125-pound junior co-captain Colton Cummins took that long route, forfeiting his first match and then defeating two opponents to win third place and wrestle Ketchikan sophomore Styles, who had been pinned in the title match by TMHS’ Davis.

Thunder Mountain High School freshman Jaxin Jim attempts to pin Ketchikan High School freshman Wyatt Balluta in the 171-pound Division I championship match of the 2023 ASAA Region V wrestling tournament Saturday at TMHS. Jim won by fall. (Klas Stolpe/ For the Juneau Empire)

Thunder Mountain High School freshman Jaxin Jim attempts to pin Ketchikan High School freshman Wyatt Balluta in the 171-pound Division I championship match of the 2023 ASAA Region V wrestling tournament Saturday at TMHS. Jim won by fall. (Klas Stolpe/ For the Juneau Empire)

Cummins took Styles down 15 seconds into action, withstood a reversal with a roll-through and pinned Styles with 40 seconds left in the first period.

“It made me want to end the match faster, that’s for sure,” Cummins said of the multiple matches. “I was confident with myself and the team. I was pretty sure we were going to dethrone Ketchikan. I’m pretty happy considering I have been on the losing team two years in a row. So it feels great.”

Cummins said building the TMHS culture is about “making it fun. Sometimes weight cuts suck and practices are hard. You just have to inspire them to have fun, too, find ways to have fun, stuff like that.”

TMHS’ Dunn defended his second place to state by pinning KTN sophomore RJ Cadiente, who had fallen to C. Messmer earlier and defeated TMHS freshman Joseph Webster for third place to earn the wrestle back challenge.

TMHS 119-pound freshman Tristan Ridgeway (lost by pin in final to KTN junior Titan Linne), 130-pound Gunner Niere (lost 6-1 in final to KTN senior Sampson Oliver), 140-pound freshman Ethan Van Kirk (lost by technical fall in final to KTN junior Hunter Cowan) and 152-pound Marx-Beirerly (lost to Darbonne in final) also move on to state in Anchorage.

TMHS coach A. Messmer said the team’s youth and number of efforts across the roster was instrumental over the weekend.

“We had a lot of kids who put Ketchikan’s point-getters out, which is huge,” he said. “Most of our team is freshmen and sophomores and I have been watching it every tournament, they get a little better and they peaked this weekend. It was great to see. A lot of first time wins over guys they have been losing to all year.”

“And our finals wrestlers were outstanding…Liam (Hart) getting that win over a guy that beat him in 30 seconds a week ago… Carvin (Hass) has been our nail-driver for a while… Jaxin (Jim) was a key win…our co-captains, everybody just stepped up today. I think a lot of it has to do with, we are in our own house and we are representing Juneau here. We see the fans, and they are feeding off that and each other. Even when a kid gets a win on the back side, that might not mean much. If it is a big win for him, the whole team rallies around that and you can feel the momentum. Every person on this team is valuable…we are a family, not a team.”

Thunder Mountain High School freshman Darren Foster pins Ketchikan sophomore Brian Burns in the 285-pound Division I championship match of the 2023 ASAA Region V wrestling tournament Saturday at TMHS. (Klas Stolpe/ For the Juneau Empire)

Thunder Mountain High School freshman Darren Foster pins Ketchikan sophomore Brian Burns in the 285-pound Division I championship match of the 2023 ASAA Region V wrestling tournament Saturday at TMHS. (Klas Stolpe/ For the Juneau Empire)

“I have been saying that for the last couple years and it really feels that way now. Everybody looks out for each other. Every kid knows the importance of a match to another. If a kid beats an opponent who has beaten him all year that is like winning a state championship and the team reacts the same way. It has just been great to watch…A lot of our culture is from the Juneau youth wrestling group, the club, our feeder program, then the two middle schools that have great coaches… Everybody knows each other and is used to each other when they get in our room.”

Ketchikan’s 140-pound Hunter Cowan was selected the ASAA Region V Tournament DI Outstanding Wrestler, Haines 171-pound senior Leo Wald the DII Outstanding Wrestler and Wrangell 114-pound junior Della Churchill the Girls Outstanding Wrestler.

Mt. Edgecumbe won the DII and girls team titles and Haines the team Sportsmanship Award.

The Braves scored 202 points, HNS 138, WRG 134, Sitka 86.5, Petersburg 51, Craig 23, Kake 16, Hoonah 15, Skagway 15, Southeast Island School District 7, Metlakatla 3, Hydaburg 0.

The Lady Braves tallied 104 points, KTN 103, WRG 82, MET 53, HNH 28, PSG 23, HYD 22, CRG 20, SISD 0.

Thunder Mountain High School’s Denali Schijvens (a Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé junior) blocks a take down attempt by Ketchikan High School junior Paul Thompson during their 215-pound Division I championship match of the 2023 ASAA Region V wrestling tournament Saturday at TMHS. Thompson won 5-4. (Klas Stolpe/ For the Juneau Empire)

Thunder Mountain High School’s Denali Schijvens (a Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé junior) blocks a take down attempt by Ketchikan High School junior Paul Thompson during their 215-pound Division I championship match of the 2023 ASAA Region V wrestling tournament Saturday at TMHS. Thompson won 5-4. (Klas Stolpe/ For the Juneau Empire)

SATURDAY DI CHAMPIONSHIP RESULTS

112pounds

1st – Camden Messmer, Fr. 23-2, TMHS

2nd – Landyn Dunn, Fr. 24-10, TMHS

3rd – RJ Cadiente, So. 10-23, KTN

4th – Joseph Webster, Fr. 5-13, TMHS

1st Place Match: Messmer over Dunn (Fall 5:22)

2nd Place: Dunn over Cadiente (Fall 1:30)

3rd Place: Cadiente over Webster (Dec 13-10)

119 pounds

1st – Titan Linne, Jr. 18-4, KTN

2nd – Tristan Ridgeway, Fr. 2-6, TMHS

3rd – Easton Paulson, So. 8-18, KTN

1st Place Match: Linne over Ridgeway (Fall 2:34)

2nd Place: Ridgeway over Paulson (NC)

3rd Place: Paulson (Bye)

125 pounds

1st – Jed Davis, Fr. 26-8, TMHS

2nd – Colton Cummins, Jr. 9-6, TMHS

3rd – Jack Styles, So. 10-10, KTN

4th – Gage Keller, Fr. 5-9, TMHS

5th – Oscar Wutzke, Jr. 13-15, KTN

1st Place Match: Davis over Styles (Fall 2:41)

2nd Place: Cummins over Styles (Fall 1:19)

3rd Place: Cummins over Keller (Fall 2:19)

5th Place: Wutzke (Bye)

The Thunder Mountain High School Falcons wrestling team, a combined TMHS and Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé Crimson Bears squad, pose with their Division I championship trophy at the 2023 ASAA Region V Wrestling Tournament on Saturday at TMHS. (Klas Stolpe/ For the Juneau Empire)

The Thunder Mountain High School Falcons wrestling team, a combined TMHS and Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé Crimson Bears squad, pose with their Division I championship trophy at the 2023 ASAA Region V Wrestling Tournament on Saturday at TMHS. (Klas Stolpe/ For the Juneau Empire)

130 pounds

1st – Sampson Oliver, Sr. 35-2, KTN

2nd – Gunner Niere, So. 13-13, TMHS

3rd – Oliver Abel, So. 17-19, TMHS

4th – Felix Hesson, Fr. 6-7, TMHS

5th – Theodore Escalante, So. 6-14, KTN

6th – Eliot Klinger, Fr. 1-4, TMHS

1st Place Match: Oliver over Niere (Dec 6-1)

2nd Place: Niere over Abel (NC)

3rd Place: Abel over Hesson (Dec 7-4)

5th Place: Escalante over Klinger (NC)

135 pounds

1st – Gage Massin, Jr. 28-4, KTN

2nd – Alexander Gilley, Sr. 15-8, KTN

3rd – Sage Shultz, Jr. 7-5, TMHS

4th – Jaeger Hubert, Fr. 13-9, TMHS

5th – Bryce Smith, So. 5-8, KTN

6th – Xavier Thibault, Fr. 5-11, TMHS

1st Place Match: Massin over Gilley (Fall 3:54)

2nd Place: Gilley over Shultz (NC)

3rd Place: Shultz over Hubert (Fall 1:58)

5th Place Match: Smith over Thibault (NC)

140 pounds

1st – Hunter Cowan, Jr. 30-3, KTN

2nd – Ethan Vankirk, Fr. 16-6, TMHS

3rd – Owen Woodruff, Jr. 8-12, TMHS

4th – Kelvin Jiang, Jr. 10-8, KTN

5th – Marlin Cox, So. 9-12, TMHS

6th – Dreydin Ohana, Fr. 5-8, KTN

1st Place Match: Cowan over Vankirk (TF-1.5 3:59 (16-0))

2nd Place: Vankirk over Woodruff (NC)

3rd Place: Woodruff over Jiang (MD 10-1)

5th Place Match: Cox over Ohana (NC)

145 pounds

1st – Hayden Aube, Jr. 11-3, TMHS

2nd – Cayden Harney, So. 16-12, KTN

3rd – Charles Kroscavage, Fr. 9-16, KTN

4th – Orrin Noon, Fr. 3-4, TMHS

5th – Jesse Albecker, So. 7-18, KTN

1st Place Match: Aube over Harney (MD 16-6)

2nd Place: Harney over Kroscavage (NC)

3rd Place: Kroscavage over Noon (TF-1.5 4:43 (16-0))

5th Place Match: Albecker (Bye)

152 pounds

1st – Justus Darbonne, Jr. 12-8, TMHS

2nd – Alex Marx-Beierly, So. 10-11, TMHS

3rd – Jason Lorig, Jr. 19-14, KTN

4th – Noah Hilson, Fr. 16-18, KTN

5th – William Dapcevich, Fr. 1-17, TMHS

1st Place Match: Darbonne over Marx-Beierly (MD 12-1)

2nd Place: Marx-Beierly over Lorig (NC)

3rd Place: Lorig over Hilson (Fall 1:27)

5th Place Match: Dapcevich (Bye)

160 pounds

1st – Carvin Hass, Jr. 18-12, TMHS

2nd – Russell Page, Fr. 10-5, KTN

3rd – Amook Bullock, So. 20-13, KTN

4th – Wyatt Kenny, So. 10-11, TMHS

5th – Shanen Mitchell, Sr. 10-5, TMHS

1st Place Match: Hass over Bullock (Fall 2:51)

2nd Place: Page over Bullock (Dec 17-10)

3rd Place: Page over Kenny (Fall 2:58)

5th Place Match: Mitchell (Bye)

171 pounds

1st – Jaxin Jim, Fr. 5-7, TMHS

2nd – Wyatt Balluta, Fr. 3-7, KTN

3rd – Tyler Oudekerk, Fr. 1-15, TMHS

1st Place Match: Jim over Balluta (Fall 4:16)

2nd Place: Balluta over Oudekerk (NC)

3rd Place: Oudekerk (Bye)

189 pounds

1st – Liam Hart, Sr. 10-7, TMHS

2nd – Easton Yoder, Jr. 3-5, KTN

3rd – Colin Elliot, Sr. 12-8, KTN

4th – Merrick Hartman, Jr. 3-10, TMHS

1st Place Match: Hart over Yoder (Fall 2:50)

2nd Place: Yoder over Elliot (NC)

3rd Place: Elliot over Hartman (Fall 2:38)

215 pounds

1st – Paul Thompson, Jr. 33-5, KTN

2nd – Denali Schijvens, Jr. 22-11, TMHS

3rd – Wesley Hewson-Lastimosa, So. 2-10, KTN

1st Place Match: Thompson over Schijvens (Dec 5-4)

2nd Place: Schijvens over Hewson-Lastimosa (NC)

3rd Place: Hewson-Lastimosa (Bye)

285 pounds

1st – Darren Foster, Fr. 15-10, TMHS

2nd – Brian Burns, So. 13-14, KTN

3rd – Jack Dunn, So. 7-16, KTN

4th – Kyle Carter, So. 6-12, TMHS

1st Place Match: Foster over Burns (Fall 1:19)

2nd Place: Burns over Dunn (Fall 1:11)

3rd Place: Dunn over Carter (For.)

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