• Coach looks for M’s to “dig deep and finish strong” as season winds down
By Sean Pearson
German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche once said, “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.”
Homer Head Wrestling Coach Chris Perk is hoping those words ring true as his Mariners head to Nikiski this weekend to compete in the 2013 Kachemak Conference Championships. The M’s haven’t had a particularly good run lately.
“After two weeks of subpar wrestling, the team will have to really dig deep and finish strong,” Perk said.
The M’s struggled in a 60-19 thrashing by the Skyview Panthers on Saturday, hampered by unfilled weight classes that translate into forfeits. To make matters worse, Homer was also missing varsity members Calvin Johnson and David Woo for personal reasons.
Homer’s Martin Welty picked up six points off a forfeit at 98 pounds, but his gifted points did very little to close the wide gap in the score. Thanks to a consistently strong wrestling program and 24 points off four Mariner forfeits at 138, 170, 182 and 285 pounds, the Panthers came away with the resounding win.
Wrestling at 160 pounds, Antonio Ochoa got the team off to a strong start Saturday with a 10-2 victory over Jesse Boze. It would turn out to be the only lead the Mariners would have all day — and the last victory they would see for a while.
Several bouts later, freshman Timmy Woo stepped up to squeak by Panther Charles Gibbons in a 5-2 decision at 132 pounds.
Senior and older brother of Antonio, Pedro Ochoa finished the evening out with a 12-4 major decision over Austin Schrader at 152 pounds.
Two weeks ago, Ochoa had to beat Schrader in the final seconds. This time, Pedro led from the beginning and won 12-4.
“The last time we wrestled, Schrader almost beat me because I believed it was going to be an easy win for me,” Ochoa explained. “I didn’t even take the time to warm up.”
Ochoa said his biggest mistake last time was getting overly confident.
“I didn’t respect my rival’s abilities, and that almost led to my downfall,” he said.
This time, however, Ochoa went into the match with a completely different mentality.
“I went in this time with the plan to keep the score as low as possible,” he said. “I was pretty happy with the 12-4 win.”
The older Ochoa said he will wrestle at 152 pounds this weekend at Regions.
“Ochoa went to State last season and knows what it takes,” Perk said of the senior. “He has a very good endurance and a quick double-leg attack.”
Ochoa said his main goal is to make it to State.
“I believe I am at my wrestling peak now,” he said.
Homer looks to send about 14 wrestlers to Regions after losing two athletes to injuries and another to grades.
With a record of 20-5 and wins against all other 98-pounders in her conference, Jadzia Martin will be seeded No. 1 going into this weekend’s tournament. Perk is hopeful that freshman 98-pounder Martin Welty could also score a State berth.
“Martin has made the most improvement this season,” Perk said. “He has wrestled the other competitors really tough and could have a stellar weekend. He will need two victories to punch his ticket to State.”
At 106 pounds, Homer freshman Jared Brant has 22 wins and is currently ranked No. 6 in the State. He will likely face Skyview’s Austin Craig this weekend. Craig got the best of Brant on Saturday, with a 14-2 win.
Wrestling at 113 pounds, defending conference champion Calvin Johnson will have to beat last year’s 98-pound champion to take this year’s title. Johnson is currently ranked No. 3 in the State and has won 27 matches this season.
Perk said performances by Homer wrestlers Jaime Rios, 120 pounds, Ravi Cavasos, 126 pounds, and Timmy Woo, 132 pounds, will make or break the Mariners this weekend.
“These three freshmen have all won many matches, but they’ve also lost a few,” he said. “It’s possible for all three to qualify and make that fourth-place match. A lot will depend on their level of confidence this weekend.”
Homer senior David Woo, 138 pounds, is expected to place in the top four at Regions. Last year, Woo was sick and did not make the trip to compete. Wyatt Lewis will represent the Mariners at 145 pounds. Perk said Lewis was forced to step up after Andrew Doughty broke his hand and Dakota Alward did not pass grade check. Lewis has three wins so far this season.
Not surprisingly, Perk said Skyview looks to be the top pick in the conference.
“They have at least 20 wrestlers they will send to the tourney,” he said. “In meets like this, size matters. Each wrestler can pick up wins and score points for the team.”
He added that he expects teams from Nikiski and Houston to give the M’s quite a fight, as well.
“Both teams have some studs that will score big points for them,” he said. “Don’t count Homer out though. If this young squad can get back to the strong wrestling they displayed mid-season, we could see a major upset on our hands.”
Perk said his Mariners would like a top-three finish as a team, and hope for many top-four finishes as individuals. Top-four finishers qualify for the Small Schools State Meet next weekend in Anchorage.
Conference tournament wrestling starts at 2 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. Saturday at Nikiski High School.
Homer vs. Skyview
160: Antonio Ochoa, by major decision over Jesse Boze, 14-6.
195: Sage Hill, decision over Jordan Reynolds, 9-4.
220: Taylor Macrae pinned Heather Harrington, 0:49.
98: Martin Welty, forfeit
106: Austin Craig, by major decision over Jared Brant, 14-2.
113: Seth Hutchison pinned Diana Gaedecke, 0:44.
120: Ryan Winter pinned Jaime Rios, 1:45.
126: Grant Valiquette technical fall over Ravi Cavasos, 4:50 16-0.
132: Timmy Woo won by decision over Charles Gibbons, 5-2.
145: Bailey Blumentritt pinned Wyatt Lewis, 3:26.
152: Pedro Ochoa, by major decision over Austin Schrader, 12-4.
Homer vs. Houston (Nov. 16)
98: Jadzia Martin by maj. decision over Karen Weinberger, 11-2.
106: Jared Brant pinned Shyan Horner, 1:09.
113: Calvin Johnson pinned Etienne Kinney, 1:06.
120: Jacob McAnulty by decision over Jaime Rios, 9-6.
126: Aaron Drake by decision over Ravi Cavasos, 9-2.
132: Timmy Woo pinned Calen Willbur, 5:57.
138: David Jack Woo pinned Chance Bogert, 3:24.
145: Dakota Alward pinned Adam Hanohano, 5:47.
152: Andrew Doughty by decision over Niko Horner, 13-6.
160: Ryan Radmer by decision over Pedro Ochoa, 18-13.
170: Antonio Ochoa, by decision over Keith Paul, 9-5.
182: Sean Long pinned Jordan Reynolds, 5:56.
195: Danny Rios pinned Thomas Chilkoyak, 1:07.
220: Walker Stephens pinned Heather Harrington, 0:49.
285: Tony Pule pinned Griffin Shero, 0:33.
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