• Mariners grapple with grades, forfeits in duals
By Sean Pearson
Following strong performances against conference opponents over the last week, Homer wrestlers Mark McGregor, Harley Wells and Calvin Johnson look to enter this weekend’s regional tournament as No. 1 seeds in their respective weight classes.
The Mariners head to Grace Christian School this weekend for the Kachemak Conference Wrestling Tournament. The top four placers in this tournament will then advance to the Small Schools State Tournament in Nikiski the following weekend.
Homer Head Coach Chris Perk said his team has the opportunity to qualify eight of its remaining 14 wrestlers for a State berth.
“It has been awhile since we’ve had multiple conference champions,” Perk said, noting that Mitch Wyatt in 2010 was the last conference wrestling champion for Homer.
The Mariners battled family vacations and a few errant grade issues as they ended regular-season competition over the weekend with conference matches against familiar peninsula foes.
“This week, we were down a few wrestlers due to grade check,” Perk explained. “We had to keep a couple of athletes at home to make sure they would be eligible for the next weekend at Regions. And, a couple of families made commitments to be out of town for the weekend.”
The shortage of wrestlers forced Homer to forfeit several weight classes, which translated into a loss of major overall team points.
The Mariners traveled to Kenai on Tuesday, where they competed in duals against the Kardinals and the Soldotna Stars; both teams Homer had beaten just last week. The M’s took on the Kards first, falling 63-15, despite individual wins from Mark McGregor, David Woo and Pedro Ochoa.
“We were forced to forfeit seven weight classes against Kenai,” Perk said. “That adds up to 42 possible points.”
McGregor and Woo each pinned his opponent, while Ochoa picked up an 11-9 decision in what Perk referred to as, “the toughest match of the night.”
With both teams void in several weight classes, Homer squeaked out a 35-30 victory over SoHi.
McGregor, Woo and Danny Rios all picked up pins against the Stars, and Perk commented on the progress and heads-up wrestling from Freshman Dakota Alward.
“Dakota had Eli Damon on his back in the first minute and nearly pinned him in a head and arm,” Perk said. “However, Damon was able to reverse the hold and pin Alward.”
During the final home meet, the Mariners once again battled their lack of team depth against a feisty Skyview Panther program. Homer spotted the Panthers 30 points in forfeits, and subsequently lost to Skyview 54-19.
Perk said most of the matches were fairly well-balanced, especially at 170 pounds. There, junior varsity wrestlers Jess Boze and Kyle Van Alstine got to tangle. Van Alstine was able to score two takedowns early in the match, but Boze never let up and ended up tying the match to send it into overtime.
“Kyle had a very good double-leg shot, but just couldn’t finish it,” Perk said. “Boze did a quick spin behind (him) and earned the victory.”
Senior Mark McGregor finished off his last home-stand with a technical fall victory over Skyview’s Frank Navarro. McGregor has accumulated 76 total victories in his wrestling career at Homer High, and is currently ranked No. 4 in the state at 170 pounds.
“Mark plans to drop down to the 160-pound weight class for Regional and State competitions,” Perk explained.
Mark’s younger brother, Austin, nearly pulled off an upset against Grant Valiquette at 126 pounds. Both wrestlers will battle next week at 120 pounds, with the victorious one most likely getting a berth to state.
“Austin was down 3-0, but scored two near-falls and looked as if he was going to pin Valiquette,” Perk said. “Unfortunately, he was able to reverse the younger McGregor and keep a 5-2 lead.”
Austin was awarded a point for Valliquette’s stalling to close the gap to 5-3 late in the match, but he could not get out of the bottom position and lost.
Regional wrestling competition kicks off Friday and runs throughout the day on Saturday at Grace Christian School in Anchorage.
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