• Popeye opens season with quality performance on the road
By Sean Pearson
Wrestling at 125 pounds, Homer eighth-grader Teddy Croft not only won all five matches on his way to a first-place finish at the Tanana Championships in Fairbanks over the weekend, he finished without having a single point scored against him.
Croft is no stranger to winning — especially on a wrestling mat. He is a two-time Kenai Peninsula Borough champion and won the triple crown two years ago. This year’s championship at Tanana — the unofficial state tournament for sixth, seventh and eighth graders — paves the way for what looks to be an exciting high school wrestling career for Croft.
“Teddy’s leg attacks were unanswered by any of his opponents,” Coach Chris Perk said. “His first three matches all ended with pins, and all in the first period.”
Croft went on to win by technical fall over Joe Perkins from Grace Christian School, before picking up an injury default victory in the finals against North Pole’s Kyle Kokrine. Kokrine broke his collar bone in the match before, when his opponent slammed him to the mat.
Croft is the first wrestler from the Southern Peninsula to win the Tanana Tournament.
Popeye took nine wrestlers to Fairbanks and scored 95.5 points to place ninth overall.
Eighth-grader Tristan Cook dominated his first four matches at 140 pounds. He pinned his way to the finals, but lost in the championship match and had to settle for second place. Cook placed fourth last year.
After falling in the opening round of the tournament, Chapman seventh-grader Luciano Fasulo won five matches in a row to reach the placing rounds. He lost one, then beat Dawson Daniels 8-1 to finish fifth. Eighth-grader Kyle Wells, also from Chapman won four matches to place seventh at 132 pounds.
Six girls from the Popeye program traveled to West High School in Anchorage to participate in the All-Alaska Girls Wrestling Championships. Homer seventh-grader Allison Wells won all three of her matches en route to a first-place finish at 100 pounds.
Finishing fourth in the same bracket, sixth-grader Mina Cavasos was the lightest and youngest wrestler in the tournament. Ninth-grader Jadzia Martin gave up at least 10 pounds in her 112-pound bracket, but still managed to finish third. Teammate and fellow ninth-grader Diana Gaedecke took fourth in the same weight class.
Ninth-grader Heather Harrington placed second in the open-weight class that featured her mom Erica, as well as Sarah Wise from West. Both Harringtons lost to Wise, before Heather pinned her mom to place second.
Another 31 Popeye Wrestlers competed in the Soldotna Whaler Freestyle Tournament the same weekend. The team came in fifth out of 14 teams, with 15 wrestlers placing in the top three.
First-place finishes went to Miles Tressler in the pre-bantam (5-6 year old), 40-pound weight class; Austin Shafford, novice, (age 11-12), 85 pounds; Ian Stovall, schoolboy, (age 13-14), 85 pounds; Jared Brant, cadet (age 15-16), 115 pounds.
Novice cadet wrestler Joshua Bradshaw finished second at 80 pounds, while Martin Welty took second in the cadet, 100 pound-class. Other second-place finishers included Ravi Cavasos, cadet, 130 pounds; Austin McGregor, junior, (age 17-18), 150 pounds; and Channing Grillo, open (18-plus) at 160 pounds.
This weekend, the team will combine and head to Seward for another freestyle tournament.
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