• Popeye grapplers place sixth out of 16 teams
By Sean Pearson
There’s nothing quite like the sound and smell of 370 little grapplers cheering, sweating and crying their way through a day of wrestling at Alice Witte Gymnasium.
With eight wrestling circles plotted out on a gym floor full of mats, Popeyes from the Lower Kenai Peninsula hosted a day of competition as part of their annual freestyle wrestling tournament.
The Popeye program was represented by 51 wrestlers, and the team placed sixth out of 16 teams overall. Four Popeyes survived some tough competition on their way to earn championship titles. Bantam 43-pounder Miles Tressler took first in his division, as did early wrestling standout Austin Shafford in the 87-pound novice class.
Teddy Croft continued his winning ways with a title in the schoolboy, 142-pound division, while Jamie Rios took the top spot at cadet, 132 pounds.
Falling just short of titles, Popeyes Josh Bradshaw, novice 83 pounds, Wayne Newman, schoolboy 94, Brendon Fenex, schoolboy 153, Heather Harrington, cadet 193 and open wrestler Channing Grillo at 149 pounds all finished as runners-up.
Third-place finishes went to pre-bantam wrestlers Saoirse Cook at 43 pounds, Jai Badajos, 42 pounds and Gabe Bradshaw, 55 pounds. Bantams Chris Thomas, 51 pounds and Carter Woodhead, 53 pounds also finished third.
In the novice class, 94-pounder Gage Cotton also took third, as did schoolboys Ian Stovall at 88 pounds, Luciano Fasulo at 104 pounds and Levi King, 152 pounds.
Cadet Kyle Wells finished third at 140 pounds, and Austin McGregor was third in the junior 143-pound category.
The Popeye Club heads to Nikiski this weekend for another freestyle tourney, before heading north to the Arctic Warrior Tournament in Wasilla on Saturday, April 5.
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