Region V wrestling official Matt Ferster conducts an instructional tutorial with Juneau-Douglas High School juniors Ethan Goebell and Cody Weldon at a recent Crimson Bears practice. The duo, along with senior Taylor Sutac, are the team's co-captains this season.

Region V wrestling official Matt Ferster conducts an instructional tutorial with Juneau-Douglas High School juniors Ethan Goebell and Cody Weldon at a recent Crimson Bears practice. The duo, along with senior Taylor Sutac, are the team's co-captains this season.

Wrestlers back on the large school mats

  • By Klas Stolpe
  • Thursday, October 15, 2015 1:04am
  • Sports

One season removed from their Alaska School Activities Association waiver to wrestle among Alaska’s smaller programs, Juneau-Douglas and Thunder Mountain high schools will again compete with larger 4A schools this season.

Juneau-Douglas, Thunder Mountain and Ketchikan begin the high school season at Wrangell this weekend, among a wealth of their small school neighbors.

“This will be a lot better for training,” JDHS senior Cody Weldon said. “Especially when you get to see a variety of techniques. You are not just wrestling the same guy every time and then you go up north and everyone is different. It is good to get a lot of different experience against different people.”

Added TMHS senior Hunter Boyer: “It is important because the more you wrestle the better you will get, even if you win or lose, it is just about being able to go out there.”

THE CRIMSON

BEARS DEN

The Crimson Bears return three state qualifiers.

Junior captain’s Ethan Goebel and Taylor Sutak placed second, 160-pounds and 220-pounds, respectively, in the combined Region V tournament. Neither placed at state.

“I just feel like I am more in shape this season,” Sutak said. “Hopefully I will be more aggressive and wrestle better. We have a big group of guys, a lot of new people, so it will be interesting.”

Senior captain Cody Weldon finished third at 182-pounds at regionals and fourth at state. He moves up to the 195-pound weight class this season.

“I am heavier than last year,” Weldon said. “I hope I trained hard enough to do better this year. I am faster than a lot of guys at 195, and I don’t think strength will be an issue. I still need to work on my technique a bit, but who doesn’t?”

Weldon also has a Judo background, which he said “definitely helps with my sense of balance. A lot of the guys will find it is hard to take me down.”

JDHS first-year head coach John Joeright said he is “ecstatic” about this year’s group of wrestlers.

“We have a hard working, dedicated and highly motivated squad. Cody works hard and has been an exceptional leader on this team,” Joeright said. “(Cody), Ethan and Taylor have real good chances to repeat and place at state in December. Tucker Joeright (his son, a sophomore) has cut down to 138 and I’m hopeful that he will do well there and senior Adam Murphy shows real promise at 113 (pounds).

“I think all of these wrestlers have the potential and determination to send a few more to Anchorage this season,” he continued. “If nothing else, their experiences and efforts will inspire future rosters and continue to regrow this program.”

The JDHS program has seen a decline over the past 12 years. Joeright said that is changing and the roster of 16 is a step in the right direction.

“This year we have had a real spike in interest,” Joeright said. “It takes real courage from deep within to endure truly grueling practices, manage one’s weight down to the ounce and then go out after all those hours of suffering and do battle, one-on-one, in front of a lot of people.”

THE FALCONS NEST

The top returner for the Falcons is Hunter Boyer, a 145-pound regional champion who finished third at state.

“I am feeling pretty confidant,” Boyer said. “We have been training pretty hard over the summer. Overall it is a good feeling. I think our team will do well this year. With the number of guys we have we can switch it up a bit more in the practice room.”

Boyer attended some top camps this summer and has set his sights on the state tournament.

“It was a serious commitment,” Boyer said. “It was really hot too. You have to train to get better each year. If you don’t do anything you can’t really expect much out of yourself. I love the competition in wrestling. It is you out there. It is solely what you put in is what you are going to get out. Fans should be excited this year.”

According to first year head coach Jason Boyer, Hunter’s father, the Falcons are talented.

“Our guys to watch this year are Hunter, Deven Mason, Tyler Cole, Sam Nolan and Carl Tupou,” Boyer said. “Alex Ocana transferred up from Oregon and he will push Hunter. Carl Tupou transferred to Thunder Mountain from Haines and is looking very tough in practice; expecting great things from him this season. We have several freshman in the program. These guys will hopefully build this program over the next four years.”

Both schools will wrestle the small school schedule in Southeast but will also compete in a few large school tournaments. The Falcons have trips planned to travel north for the Colony Tournament and the Lancer Smith. The Crimson Bears hope to include the Anchorage Christian Invitational.

“These are the two most important tournaments for us so those kids that make it to state see who they must prepare for,” Boyer said. “After looking at the rosters for other (Southeast) schools, it seems that the numbers are a little better than last year.”

The Falcons boast 23 kids on the mat.

“That is a great turnout and I am hoping to continue building on that number to help our sport grow in Southeast,” Boyer said. “The kids I have this year are very motivated. I look forward to getting to practice each day to teach them something new and push them to see what they can accomplish.”

Cole, a 170-pound senior, is another TMHS captain and attended the same off-season training camps as Boyer, including a 12-day intensive camp in California.

“It was up in the mountains,” Cole said. “It wasn’t fun. I enjoyed the experience but it was hard work. I have been training really hard. Hopefully Hunter and I will win state. If I don’t I can’t get mad at it. Just have to learn from my mistakes and move on. What I love about this sport is the intensity and the drive. I tell our freshmen not to get mad over a loss, but to learn from it and fix the mistakes you made.”

The 2015 state tournaments will be held in Anchorage Dec. 18-19, with the 1A/2A/3A tourney at Chugiak and the 4A tournament at Bartlett.

THE ROSTERS

Crimson Bears: 113 lbs – Adam Murphy (senior); 120 lbs – Daniel Peters (freshman); 132 lbs – Festus LaChester (Freshman); 138 lbs – Tucker Joeright – (sophomore); 145 lbs – Steven Ireland Haight (freshman); 152 lbs – Reilly Sutak (freshman); 160 lbs – Ethan Goebel (junior, captain); 160 lbs – John Williams (junior); 160 lbs – John Schmitz (junior); 160 lbs – Royce Whitehead (sophomore); 170 lbs – Jayden Kohler (sophomore); 170 lbs – Seth Machakas (sophomore); 170 lbs – Lance Fenumai (sophomore); 182 lbs – Taylor Sutak (senior, captain); 195 lbs – Cody Weldon (junior, Capt.); Heavy Weight – Chris Coulson (junior).

Falcons: 98 lbs – Connor Norman (freshman); 113 lbs – Juan Fisher (junior); 120 lbs – Jacob Tapia (sophomore); 120 lbs – Caleb Deer (freshman); 120 lbs – Austin Jackson (freshman); 120 lbs – M. Johnson (sophomore); 132 lbs – Donald Scott (freshman); 138 lbs – Theron Grant (freshman); 145 lbs – Sam Nolan (junior); 145 lbs – Deven Mason (junior); 145 lbs – Joshua Sheakley (sophomore); 145 lbs – Drake Carabajal (sophomore); 152 Lbs – Hunter Boyer (senior, captain.); 152 Lbs – Alex Ocana (junior); 152 Lbs – Aiden Hildebrand (junior); 152 lbs – Travis Kemp-Davis (freshman); 160 lbs – Andrew Dilley (freshman); 170 lbs – Tyler Cole (senior, captain); 182 lbs – Derek Mason (freshman); 182 lbs – Dwayne Harwell (freshman); 182 lbs – Joshua Quinto (freshman); 195 lbs – Carl Tupou (junior); 195 lbs – Devin Locke (freshman).

THE COACHES

Both programs feature first-year head coaches.

Falcons’ coach Boyer wrestled at North Bend High School in Bend, Oregon. He joined the Coast Guard at age 17. He coached the Ketchikan Mat Rats for three years while stationed there, and is starting his fourth year at TMHS after serving the previous three yeas as an assistant coach. He coached the Juneau Tornadoes Wrestling Club for three years, Dzantik’I Heeni MIddle School for one year, and is currently the vice president for the Juneau Youth Wrestling Club.

The Crimson Bears coach Joeright wrestled in the Ohio high school state tournament and at NCAA D-III Hiram College and is a former coach at James A Garfield High School.

REFRESHER ON 2014

Last season Ketchikan won the 4A region title; Petersburg the 3A title; Wrangell took the 2A crown with Craig runner-up; and Thorne Bay won the 1A championship with Hoonah as runner-up. The small schools are combined at state and Kotzebue won the title with Bethel second; Wrangell placed seventh and Craig ninth.

The only Southeast individuals to claim state titles last season were Mt. Edgecumbe’s Brittany Woods-Orrison, Sydnee Kimber, Kanesha Lie, Lyric Wiggins and Paul Johanson; and Ketchikan’s Marcus Martin and Nate Fousel.

ALASKA WRESTLING HISTORY

High school wrestling in Alaska began in 1961. Larger schools were classified as AA and smaller schools A. The first Alaska State High School Wrestling Tournament was held in 1972 at Service. That season featured the first and second place winners in each weight bracket from 15 schools in the Southeast and Southcentral regions.

Southeast state champions that season included Mark Johnson (JDHS 98 pounds), Mike Maxwell (KTN 105), K.C. Wilson (JDHS 132), and Ed Shaw (JDHS 145).

In 1973, the state championships were in Juneau. SE state champs were Chuck Mallot (KTN 98), Mark Johnson (JDHS 112), K.C. Wilson JDHS 138), and Richard Gile (WRG 155).

The lone 1974 SE state champion was Petersburg’s Doug Hicks (185). In 1975 and 1976 no Southeast individuals won a title. In 1977, Loren Cummins (JDHS 105) and in 1978 Norman Robinson (Sitka 138) were crowned.

In 1979, wrestling was separated into small schools (DI) and large schools (DII). This continued through the 1985 season.

In 1979, there were no Southeast state champs. In 1980, Eric Oen (PSG 155) won a title and the Outstanding Wrestler award. In 1981, champions were Shannon Garety (JDHS 119) and in 1982 Peter Eagle (JDHS 112). There were no regional champs in 1983-85.

In 1986, schools were reclassified based on enrollment. Schools under 400 students were 1A, 2A and 3A, and schools over 400 were 4A.

In 1986, Southeast state champs were Kelly Stocker (SIT 119), Phil Isaak (JDHS 155), Charlie Jefferies (KTN 167), Williams Dundas (Metlakatla 126); in 1987, Todd Denkinger (SIT 132), Mike Carroll (Hoonah 112), Marty Massin (WRG 119), Jerry Webb (Klawock 126), Steve Carlson (Mt. Edgecumbe 177), and Jeff Weiderspohn (WRG HWT); in 1988, Marty Massin (WRG 125), Thomas Akelkok (Mt.E 171), and Jeff Rooney (WRG 189); 1989, none; 1990, D.J. Borrman (WRG 135) and Russell Dick (Hoonah 140); 1991, Dick (HNH 140) and Ray Skaflestad (HNH 171); 1992 ,Scott Falzerano (SIT 189), T.J. Cinkovich (Craig 140), and Mark Kosbruk (PSG 152); 1993, Troy Thynes (PSG HWT); 1994, none; 1995, Aaron Hillman (MET 160, Outstanding Wrestler) and Brandon Thynes (PSG 171); 1996, Josh St. Clair (WRG 275); 1997, Al Hill (HNH 140, Outstanding Wrestler) and Anthony Lindoff (HNH 145); 1998, Sam Caulum (PSG 135), Lindoff (HNH 145), Gabe Johnson (PSG 152) and Bob Olsen (PSG 160); 1999, none; 2000, Gary Reid (JDHS 140, Outstanding Wrestler), Garrett Schoenberger (JDHS 171), Caulum (PSG 152) and Eldon Walker (PSG 160).

In 2001 and 2002, schools could choose between a fall or spring season without enrollment being considered. Region V, Kenai Peninsula, Region 3 and some Interior schools chose the fall. In 2001, Southeast state champs were Justin Hulegaard (JDHS 130, Outstanding Wrestler), Geoff Nordlund (KTN 160) and Matt Hamilton (KTN 275); 2002, Matt Jones (KTN 112), Anthony Manacio (JDHS 112), Stephan Haseltine (KTN 140), Darren LaDuke (SIT 189) and Jerrod Harvey (JDHS 275).

Enrollment classifications returned in 2003 and Southeast state champs were: Harry Churchill (WRG 135), Jake Oyler (PSG 140, Outstanding Wrestler), Jim Smith (PSG 160), David Mann (KTN 103), Matt Haseltine (KTN 145) and Jon Hamilton (KTN 275); 2004, Neil Jenny (PSG 145), Jake Mork (WRG 160), Victor Jenny (PSG 171), Curtis Demmert (Hydaburg 189), Gerry Carillo (JDHS 103) and Hamilton (KTN 275); 2005, Jon Garrison (WRG 103), Max Shellabarger (Mt.E 189), Mathew Ashenfelter (Kake 275), Sungie Mussara (JDHS 112) and Hamilton (KTN 275); 2006, Spencer Beckman (CRG 112), N. Jenny (PSG 171) and Zack Klein (Mt.E 189); 2007, Brett Lopez (PSG 119), Garrison (WRG 130, Outstanding Wrester) and Josh Dunham (PSG 145); 2008, Rolland Wimberley (WRG 125), Bobby Egen (PSG 152), Jeffery Davidson (WRG 171), Claude Young (Mt.E 189) and Steven Dyer (JDHS 152); 2009, Wimberley (WRG 125), Tim Erickson (PSG 140), Ethan Pempek (WRG 215), Billy Craig (PSG 285) and Nick Martin (KTN 119); 2010, Tyler Thain (CRG 189) and Jaylin Prince (Mt.E 285); 2011, Tanner Thain (CRG 103), Jesse Rogers (Mt.E 125), Ryan Baxter (CRG 135), Matthew Rogers (Mt.E 152, Outstanding Wrestler), Dylan Castle (CRG 171) Ryne Sorenson (SIT 189) and Tony Craig (PSG 215): 2012, Darin Davis (SIT 106), Mitchell Boord (SIT 170) and Michael Matthew (Mt.E 182); 2013, Luther Jenson (Thorne Bay 152) and Paul Johanson (Mt.E 285); 2014, Brittany Woods-Orrison (Mt.E Girls 132), Marcus Martin (KTN 138), Sydnee Kimber (Mt.E Girls 145), Kanesha Lie (Mt.E Girls 160), Lyric Wiggins (Mt.E Girls 182), Nate Fousel (KTN 195) and Paul Johanson (Mt.E 285).

Juneau-Douglas High School junior Cody Weldon and senior Taylor Sutac warm up at a recent Crimson Bears practice. The duo, along with junior Ethan Goebel, are the team's co-captains this season.

Juneau-Douglas High School junior Cody Weldon and senior Taylor Sutac warm up at a recent Crimson Bears practice. The duo, along with junior Ethan Goebel, are the team’s co-captains this season.

Thunder Mountain High School wrestlers do wall sits during Falcons practice on Wednesday. TMHS and Juneau-Douglas compete at Wrangell this weekend.

Thunder Mountain High School wrestlers do wall sits during Falcons practice on Wednesday. TMHS and Juneau-Douglas compete at Wrangell this weekend.

Thunder Mountain High School wrestlers warm up during Falcons practice on Wednesday. TMHS and Juneau-Douglas compete at Wrangell this weekend.

Thunder Mountain High School wrestlers warm up during Falcons practice on Wednesday. TMHS and Juneau-Douglas compete at Wrangell this weekend.

Thunder Mountain High School senior captains Hunter Boyer and Tyler Cole wrestle during Falcons practice on Wednesday. TMHS and Juneau-Douglas compete at Wrangell this weekend.

Thunder Mountain High School senior captains Hunter Boyer and Tyler Cole wrestle during Falcons practice on Wednesday. TMHS and Juneau-Douglas compete at Wrangell this weekend.

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