• Mariners place eighth in 16-team tourney, ready for 30-team Palmer Tournament
By Sean Pearson
If Homer High School wrestling coach Chris Perk had any doubts about his team’s conditioning at this point in the season, marathon wrestling in Nikiski over the weekend ought to be a pretty decent indicator.
The Mariners wrestled seven duals in two days at the Nikiski Duals Tournament. As a team, the M’s went 3 and 3, defeating Kenai 51-28, Houston 43-26 and Colony JV 55-12. And, while Homer fell to Dillingham twice 40-35 and 39-37, Kodiak 59-18 and Skyview 42-40, Perk said he was pleased with the many solid performances of his wrestlers.
Perk said the hottest match of the weekend was between Skyview and Homer. The Panthers spanked the M’s 42-12 a month ago in Seward, and now they were clinging to a 40-36 lead going into the final match between Homer sophomore Danny Rios and Skyview’s DJ Tourtman.
“Danny bumped up to 182 pounds to battle Tourtman,” Perk said. “He scored a takedown in the first period and was looking solid, but he went for a pin combination before he locked it up and found himself on his back, pinned.”
Tourtman’s success gave Skyview six points and the overall victory, and sending Homer to the seventh/eighth-place match.
Highlighting the Skyview dual was Pedro Ochoa’s 18-3 victory over Frank Navarro. In a dual last month, Ochoa lost to Navarro 10-7.
“Ochoa’s only loss over the weekend was to Dillingham’s Cade Schlagel, who is ranked No. 3 in the state,” Perk said. “Obviously Pedro is showing rapid improvement.”
Coming fresh off their Round Robin Rumble championships, juniors Calvin Johnson and Harley Wells each picked up five wins and only one loss in Nikiski. Both of the wrestlers’ losses came at the hands of tough 4A opponents, while they continued to knock off some highly ranked small school wrestlers.
Johnson’ s only loss was to Kenai’s Hope Steffenson, a state champion two years ago.
“Calvin just couldn’t get much going offensively against Steffenson and lost 8-0,” Perk said. “However, he did score five other pins for the weekend and should move up to No. 3 in this week’s rankings.”
Wells defeated Houston’s Ryan Radmer 13-11. Radmer was ranked No. 4 in the State at 145 pounds. Wells was injured in his next match, however, and was not able to finish out the final two duals.
“With a healthy Wells, we could beat both Skyview and Dillingham,” Perk explained. “Instead, we had to forfeit both matches and give up six points.”
The Nikiski weekend brought the return of the McGregor brothers, Mark (170 pounds) and Austin (126 pounds).
Mark, a senior, is a returning State place winner from last season at 160 pounds. He wrestled at 170 and 182 pounds over the weekend.
“Mark didn’t lose a match at 170 and should crack the top six rankings this week,” Perk said. “He wrestled No. 3-ranked Sonny Flensburg at 182 twice and split with him.”
Perk said it was a pretty tough match to start the season off, and Mark was a little rusty.
Flensburg ended up pinning the older McGregor in the final period, but the accomplished Mariner football quarterback had other plans for the rest of the evening.
As he muscled his way through the final match of the night, McGregor scored an early take down and was able to score one in the third period to win 6-3.
Austin McGregor won three matches and lost three matches over the weekend. Perk calls him a solid top wrestler who is very capable of pinning someone at any time.
David Woo 126-132 pounds, had the best come-from-behind victory of the tournament in the 126-132 pound division.
“He was down 10-0 to Alex Smith of Palmer going into the third period,” Perk said. “He then slapped on a cross face cradle on Smith, pinning him.”
Woo went on to win five other matches over the weekend to only two losses. Mariner Jadzia Martin was able to get a little more wrestling competition in her 98-pound weight class. She also went 5-2 over the weekend, losing to No.1 ranked Hutchison from Skyview and an opponent from Houston.
“Her wins over Jenny Valdez and Melissa Radmer from Houston were impressive,” Perk said. “She still has a shot at qualifying for the State meet.”
This weekend, the team heads to Palmer for a 30-team meet. It will be a mix of the best 4A and small schools in the state.
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