Popeye Wrestling Club endured three long days of wrestling with more than 1,000 competitors vying for a State title at the Menard Sports Complex this past weekend.
The club, which took 35 wrestlers to the tournament, finished their season on a high note, bringing home nine State titles.
Calvin Johnson, who wrestles at 113 pounds, beat out Aaron Drake from North Star all three days of competition.
“Beating that formidable of an opponent is no simple task,” said Popeye spokesman Chris Perk. “Each day, you have to make adjustments to your opponents adjustments.”
Eighth-grader Jared Brant came up just a bit short in the 100-pound category, placing second in Folkstyle and Greco wrestling competitions. Then he turned up the heat, and won the championship in the Freestyle competition.
“Jared’s performances were rock-solid all weekend,” Perk said. “He was very focused on the task at hand.”
Homer High standout Mark McGregor placed all three days in his Junior 170-pound division.
“Mark had a really tough bracket,” Perk said. “He faced three high school state champions, two runners-up and a third-placer.”
McGregor beat Lathrop’s Sam Zimmerman and Kotzebue’s Brandon Phillips on his way to a third-place finish in Folkstyle wrestling. He then beat out State Champion Isaak Deaton from Valdez to take fifth in the Greco competition on Friday. He placed fifth again on Saturday in Freestyle.
Perk said McGregor plans to attend Pacific University in the fall, where he hopes to wrestle and potentially play football.
Middle schooler Teddy Croft, who wrestles at 112 pounds, won five matches on Thursday in the Folkstyle tournament to place second overall. He also took third in the freestyle tourney.
Last year’s State Champion, Austin Shafford, put together a solid day of wrestling, winning six matches to get to the finals. He eventually lost, but beat out Nelson Evans of Bethel using two high altitude throws to score three points in each round.
In girls’ tournament action, Popeye was quite successful. Five wrestlers, Mischell Wells, Allison Wells, McKenzie Cook, Jadzia Martin and Heather Harrington all earned State Championships.
Cook pinned both of her opponents in less that a minute. She and Jadzia Martin went on to place in the top five of the Freestyle Tournament against the boys, as well.
Harrington took third in the Folkstyle and second in the Freestyle. Diana Gaedecke placed second in the girls’ competition and sixth overall in Freestyle.
According to Perk, one of the most improved performances came from Austin McGregor, who wrestles at 132 pounds. The younger McGregor took fourth in Greco and sixth in Freestyle.
Other top placers included Wayne Newman. fourth in Freestyle and third in Greco; Timmy Woo, fifth in Freestyle and sixth in Greco; and Ravi Cavasos, who finished third in Greco and fifth place in Freestyle.
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