The Mariners traveled to Houston for a two-day, 14-team tourney last week. Homer was nearly at full-strength with 17 wrestlers at the tournament. Valdez won the team title with 170 points.Homer finished second with 155 and beat out host school Houston with 146 points.
Jared Brant, 106, defeated two wrestlers in route to a first-place finish. He dominated his weight class and looks to hold on to his sixth-place ranking in the state.
Calvin Johnson, 113, won two matches before a tough loss in the finals to number-two ranked Gage Hoffman of Bethel. Johnson, who was pinned by Hoffman a week earlier, made it all three periods and scored a takedown in the second. Johnson holds on to his number-three ranking despite a 10-4 loss.
Freshman Jaime Rios, 120, fought for the championship against number-two ranked Aaron Drake of Houston. Rios had one of the biggest victories of the tournament on Friday in front of a packed student body when he defeated Jacob Mcanulty of Houston. The gym was rocking as the match was tied 2-2 going into the third period. Rios was able to ride Mcanulty for the third period and nearly turn him with an arm bar. Mcanulty had nearly escaped twice before Rios was able to turn him to his back and score two near-falls in the final five seconds and win 4-2. In the finals, Rios wrestled tough in a 7-0 loss. His brother, Danny, 195, also was in the finals by pinning two opponents in the first period. His finals opponent was number-one ranked Luke Johnson of Nikiski. He was not able to get through the first period as Johnson used a double bar arm to pin Rios.
Top finisher on the back side of the bracket was Jadzia Martin, 98. After an opening round loss to number one seeded Gavin Maslin of Glennallen, Martin won two matches to earn a third-place finish. She dominated Kavan Weinberger-Desr of Houston 12-0.
Finishing fifth was Martin Welty, also 98 pounds. His exciting pin of Alhrik Schommer of Grace was one of the highlights of the tourney. He was losing 10-8 when he was able to come back and pin Schommer in the third period with a half nelson.
Ravi Cavasos, 126, Dakota Alward 145, Pedro Ochoa, 152, and Jordan Reynolds, 195, all placed fourth. Alward’s match in the semi-finals against Brian Allen of Valdez, ranked number six in the state, was extremely close. Alward had Allen on his back at the end of the first period, but could not pin him as time ran out. Alward lead 6-5 before Allen reversed Alward in the second period. Allen then rode Alward all third period and held on to a 7-6 win. Ochoa’s first weekend of action looked good. His two losses were to top-three ranked wrestlers. He was able to win four other matches very convincingly.
David Jack Woo, 138, took fifth place. He won four matches in a very competitive weight class. His two losses were both to top number-five ranked wrestlers. Heather Harrington, 220, pinned Logan Hollie of Houston in 5:00 in the first round and nearly advanced to the finals before suffering in a tough 10-6 loss to Valin Smyth of Hutchison. Harrington battled tough all weekend, fighting off her back and pushing herself to the limit. She ended up placing sixth overall as Hollie in a rematch pinned Harrington at the end of the day.
Julian Richburg, 132, won his first match of the season against Josh Jones of Hutchison. Richburg wrestled fearless on the mat and was able to score points from any position. He and Timmy Woo, 132, each won one match but lost two and did not place. Andrew Doughty, 145, scored a pin over Scot Bean of Houston before getting eliminated with two losses. Wyatt Lewis, 145, and Antonio Ochoa, 160, did not win matches this weekend.
The team will battle in a 16-team dual tournament at Nikiski this weekend. Matches begin at 2:30 p.m. on Friday and 9 a.m. on Saturday. The final home meet of the year will be Nov. 19, against Soldotna 6 p.m. in the Alice Witte Gymnasium. This is the final chance to see five seniors compete at home. Along with senior night activities, at 5:30 p.m. former wrestler will be inducted into the Mariner Wrestling Hall of Fame.
Chris Perk is the head coach of the Homer High School Mariner wrestling team.