Mariners repeat as state runners-up in wrestling
The Homer Mariners didn't win the Division II team wrestling championship on Saturday at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage. But they came so very close.
The Mariners, backed by four individual state champions, rolled to 196 total points in the meet and finished just 11 points behind Bethel Regional High School in the final standings. Bethel secured its second-straight state title - and its sixth in the last eight years - with 207 points.
Luciano Fasulo highlighted Homer's outing at the tournament. En route to claiming his second state title in as many years, the Homer junior dominated the 132-pound weight classification with ease. He pinned three of his four opponents during the tournament, and closed out his season with a perfect 47-0 record.
Fasulo kicked off his outing with a rousing victory over Mt. Edgecumbe's Ethan Sergie. From there, he pinned Nome's Elden Cross in the quarterfinals and then upended Glennallen's Sean Dorsey in the semifinal round. Even though he didn't register a pin in the finals, Fasulo won in impressive fashion by scoring a major decision via a 19-9 victory over Jesse Noden of Dillingham.
With his 47-0 record this season, Fasulo will head into his senior season having won 98 consecutive matches dating back to 2016.
Seth Inama, Mose Hayes and Levi King also claimed state championships during the tournament. Overall, the four champions were among eight HHS boys to finish in the top four in their respective divisions.
Inama claimed the state's 120-pound title with a perfect 4-0, including a thrilling 8-3 win over New Stuyahok's Blunka Blunka Jr. in the finals. Now 34-10 for the year, Inama began his route to the title with a pin of Nunapitchuk's Nathan Andrew on Friday. From there, he scored a 9-2 romp over Unalaska's John Esnardo, and a 9-5 decision over Glennallen's Moses Kortha to reach the championship round.
Hayes finished off a 37-8 season with a win in the finals of the 138-pound classification. He claimed a thrilling 4-2 win over Hutchison's Kye Pearce in the finals. Prior to beating Pearce, one of the pre-tournament favorites to win the 138-pound title, Inama claimed wins over Dillingham's Tanner Noden and Adam Jockusch of Eielson. In the semifinals, he wrestled his way to a tough 7-6 win over Dillingham's Dillon Chaney.
Like Inama and Hayes, King breezed through his division. He posted a 4-0 record en route to claiming the 195-pound championship.
A senior at Homer, King finished off his 30-2 season with a bang. He defeated Barrow's Sione Tuifua in the finals of the division by an impressive 13-3 margin. Tuifua, who had been part of Barrow's football team that edged the King-led Mariners in the Division III state football title game, had beaten King on the wrestling mat earlier this season.
King didn't waste any time in showing he was going to be a force to be dealt with. He pinned each of his first three opponents before advancing to the finals to face Tuifua.
Homer's gold-medal count could have been nearly twice as high. Standouts Wayne Newman, Tristen Cook and Kyle Wells all advanced to the title round in their weight brackets before settling for second-place marks.
Newman, competing in the 126-pound class, rolled through his first three matches. He pinned his first two opponents, and then claimed an 8-2 win over Delta's Jason Montes in order to earn the right to face Monroe Catholic's Riley Rust in the title match. Rust managed to score late in their match, and escaped with a 3-2 victory.
With his 3-1 mark at the state tournament, Newman completed the 2017 season at 35-8.
Cook was the runner-up in the 182-pound standings, after dropping a 9-2 decision to Grace Christian's Evan Bockman. Prior to falling in the finals, Cook had powered his way to three impressive wins, including a thrilling 1-0 win over Su Valley's Aiden Jolley in the semifinals.
Wells took second in the 220-pound classification - barely. Monroe Catholic;s Tanner Clark survived a 1-0 war in the championship of the bracket. Before falling in the finals, Wells pinned Haines' Wesley Verhanme and Unalaska's Johnny Khongsuk in back-to-back bouts. He then upended Barrow's Ben Heather in the semifinals by a 9-3 clip.
Chris Cudaback narrowly missed a medal, as well. The Homer standout finished fourth in the 170-pound standings with a 4-2 mark. After suffering an opening-round loss to Delta's Omar Powers, he wrestled his way through the consolation side of the bracket to claim four straights wins and a berth in the third-place contest against Kotzebue's Ethan Roetman.
Joshua Bradshaw and Ian Stovall also did well for the Mariners. Bradshaw turned in a 2-2 mark in the 145-pound division, while Stovall went 2-2 in the 132-pound ranks.