• Croft winds up one escape short of shot at Tanana title
By Sean Pearson
Nine wrestlers from Homer Middle and Chapman schools traveled to Fairbanks over the weekend to compete against some 500 other sixth, seventh and eight-graders at the two-day Tanana Middle School Tournament.
Homer took five wrestlers to the tourney, and walked away with 70.5 points and 11th place. Chapman sent four wrestlers and placed 23rd with 21.5 points.
Homer Wrestling Media Liaison Chris Perk called the finish “impressive,” especially when considering that 10th-place-finisher Ryan Middle School brought 21 wrestlers to the tourney.
Seventh-grader Teddy Croft found himself facing more than 40 wrestlers in his 105-pound weight division. He won seven matches, with his only loss coming at the hands of eventual-champion Weston Martin of Anchorage.
“Martin pinned all the wrestlers he faced – except for Teddy,” Perk said. “Had Teddy been on the other side of the bracket, they would have met in the finals. Instead, the match of the day took place in the quarterfinals.”
Croft scored a takedown early in the match and held the lead until Martin put him to his back with a cradle. That tied the match at 3, and sent it into overtime. With neither wrestler scoring in the next two and half minutes, the “Ultimate Tie Breaker” was used.
“That put Croft in a position where he had to escape,” Perk explained.
Despite Croft’s efforts, Martin was able to maintain position and hold control to advance to the next round.
“Once Teddy dropped to the consolation side of the bracket, he tore up the next four competitors,” Perk said. “He didn’t give up a single point.”
Croft finished third overall, and has another chance next year to become Homer’s first Tanana Champion. Teddy placed fifth last year at 91 pounds.
Homer also saw strong performances from seventh-grader Tristan Cook at 122 pounds. Cook took fourth, losing only to third-place finisher Derrick Knoblock of Anchorage.
“Tristan won four other matches, but could not escape the lock of Knoblock twice,” Perk said. “
In a come-from-behind victory over John Tidwell of Eielson, Cook was trailing most of the match. Down one point with 17 seconds left, Cook scored his final takedown and won 5-4.
Eighth-grader Jared Brant finished fifth at 98 pounds, going 7-2 in another weight class of 40-plus wrestlers.
Brant was able to advance to the placing round and avenge his third-round loss to Tanana Middle School’s Jordon Opp with an overtime win.
Other eighth graders, Jaime Rios, 105 pounds, and Ravi Cavasos, 114, won multiple matches in the tournament, but did not reach the top eight.
Chapman seventh-grader Tyler Johnson led his team with an eighth-place finish at 118 pounds. Perk said Johnson looked very strong, winning two of his three victories by pin. He and fellow teammate Kyle Wells, 114 pounds, were runners-up at last weekend’s KPBSD Borough tournament.
Sixth-graders, Luciano Fasulo, 91 pounds, and Wayne Newman, 84, both won two matches in the tourney. Perk looks for them to place next season.
He also noted the hard work and commitment of Chapman coach Bubba Wells, and Husky coaches Larry Croft and Danny Rios.
In girls’ grappling action, Popeye took seven athletes to the United States Girls Wrestling Association Tournament held at Service High School in Anchorage. Six of the seven Homer girls competing took first place.
Mischelle Wells, who wrestles at 65 pounds, won three matches to earn the Elementary School title. Her sister Allison won a match, but then fell at the hands of teammate and Middle School Champion, McKenzie Cook. Mina Cavasos, 80 pounds, won the Secondary Elementary division and placed third in the middle school division before losing to teammates.
Diana Gaedecke, 110, won two hard-earned bouts in the Middle/High school division.
Perk said Gaedecke, who placed third at the borough tourney last weekend, used a headlock and a bar arm to pin both of her opponents. Heather Harrington won two matches in the High School division, pinning both of her opponents in a half nelson.
Final wrestler, Faith Jackson, not only won her Elementary School division, but also finished fourth wrestling up in the Middle School bracket.
This weekend marks the start of the Freestyle/Greco season with an Anchorage Freestyle Club meet at Bartlett High School.
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