By McKibben Jackinsky
Representing the Voznesenka Cougars, junior Gavril Kalugin was in the thick of the action at Saturday’s Best Western Bidarka’s Round Robin Rumble at Homer High School. Kalugin took first place in the 138 class.
“He has been wrestling since junior high,” said Voznesenka Head Coach Justin Zank.
“His strengths are his dedication, hard work and determination. We have a lot of things to work on and definitely need to polish some things. We looked pretty sloppy at times today, but Gav works hard every day we are in the wrestling room. He will be as good as he wants to be.”
Proof of Kalugin’s ability is an impressive sixth-place at 138 at state last year.
Summing up Saturday’s performance, but looking at the wrestling season ahead, Zank said, “We wrestled alright today. We definitely have a way to go to accomplish our goals.”
Those goals include placing again at state and encouraging other Voznesenka wrestlers.
“Hopefully this season will lay the groundwork for the future of the program,” said Zank.
“I hope Gav can set the standard for our younger guys coming up.”
Located at the far end of East End Road, the small K-12 school lacks facilities for wrestling practices, meaning Kalugin and Zank travel into Homer every day, practicing mostly by themselves and sometimes with the Homer wrestlers.
“Coach Perk is nice enough to allow us to use a corner of the mat room,” said Zank of Homer Mariner Head Coach Chris Perk ensuring Voznesenka has space to refine its moves.
“Right now, there is no place for us to wrestle in Voz,” said Zank. “There is a multipurpose room in construction now. Hopefully, it will be finished in time for junior high wrestling.”
The distance is definitely a challenge to building the Voz wrestling team.
“It takes roughly 35-40 minutes to get into town from the village,” said Zank. “That is a tough commitment, both financially and time, for a high school kid.”
This is Zank’s second year to coach wrestling at Voznesenka. Before coming to the southern peninsula, he coached for a year at Kenai and seven years out of state. His own wrestling experience began when he
was in middle school and continued through his attendance at Georgia Southern University.
This weekend, Kalugin and Zank travel to Seward for competition on Friday and Saturday.
McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at email@example.com.