• Johnson, McGregor finish strong as Regions approaches
By Sean Pearson
Mariner junior Calvin Johnson and senior Mark McGregor each came away from the 37-team Palmer Invitational over the weekend with fifth-place performances to lead their Homer wrestling squad to an overall 18th-place finish.
Homer Coach Chris Perk said most of the top 4A and small school programs participated in the meet, providing for some pretty tough competition for the M’s.
In one of the most exciting match-ups of the tournament, Johnson, who is currently ranked No. 3 in small schools at 106 pounds, upset No. 2-ranked Gabe Hoffman of Bethel 12-10. Perk said both wrestlers were aggressive and wrestled “without fear.”
The match was tied 10-10 with about 20 seconds left, when Hoffman put an illegal hold on Johnson. The penalty gave Johnson a one-point lead. Hoffman then gave up an escape with seven seconds left to give Johnson a two-point lead.
Hoffman then scored a quick takedown and near-fall, appearing to have bested Johnson 14-12 in the match. Apparently fortune was smiling on Johnson, however, as he got a second chance to replay those final closing seconds.
“The time clock never started,” Perk explained. “After review, the official decided to replay the seven seconds, and Johnson was able to hold off a furious attack from Hoffman and win 12-10.”
Johnson was not as fortuitous in his next match, as he was unable to score on the No. 1-ranked Darin Davis of Sitka in the semi-finals. That dropped Johnson into the consolation bracket. However, Perk said Johnson will move up to No. 2 in the rankings, making him a potential State finalist.
Wrestling at 170 pounds, McGregor won his first two matches fairly easily before going up against No. 3-ranked Morgan Sauve of Nikiski. Following a good 30 seconds of pummeling, Sauve was able to secure a double underhook hold and throw McGregor on top of his head.
“Mark said his shoulder went numb for a second and he was consequently pinned,” Perk said.
Following a win and a loss on the consolation side of the bracket, McGregor was granted a rematch with Sauve. This match would end up much tighter, however, with the scored tied at one with about 30 seconds left.
“Mark was able to control Sauve out of a scramble position and hold onto a 3-2 victory,” Perk said.
McGregor is also ranked No. 2 in smalls schools at 170 pounds.
Pedro Ochoa just missed a top-six placement, winning five matches in the 152-pound weight class. He was the second-highest finisher for small schools in his division.
“Ochoa is looking as if he has a shot at placing at State in three weeks,” Perk said. “He has more than 20 wins already.”
In other wrestling action, Harley Wells bumped into two very tough 4A wrestlers and went down after only winning one match. Wells, who also has more than 20 wins so far this season, is ranked No. 4 in the state at 145 pounds.
Jadzia Martin, 98 pounds, and David Woo, 126 pounds, both picked up a win apiece at the meet.
This week, the Mariners headed up to Kenai on Tuesday for a set of double duals against the Kards, and then either Skyview or Sohi. Results from those games were not available by press time.
The Mariners will then host their final home contest of the season against the Skyview Panthers on Saturday at 6 p.m.
The meet is the last before regional competition, and will honor seniors Mark McGregor and Kyle Van Alstine.The last time these two teams met, the Panthers edged the M’s 42-40.
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