The Homer High School Mariner wrestling team traveled to Nikiski last weekend to partake in seven duels. By the end of the final dual, coaches Chris Perk and Bubba Wells had no voices left to say much. Luckily, the HHS wrestlers’ actions spoke for themselves all weekend.
Homer opened Friday night with a win over Soldotna High School. The only Mariner loss was a forfeit at 285. Wins by pin and forfeits accumulated 84 points for Homer. A highlight of the dual was David Jack Woo’s come-from-behind victory at 138 pounds against Eli Damon. Damon had taken Woo down to start the match. In the second period, Woo locked up his favorite move, a cross-face cradle, and earned the pin.
The Soldotna Stars, along with most 4A schools, were eligible for their first competition of the season, but were missing some weights due to lack of practices and grade issues. The Mariners then dualed the Palmer Moose, who placed fourth in state at 4A last year. The Moose were a bit more experienced than the Mariners and won 57-24.
On Saturday, Homer wrestled the Houston Hawks, who tied Palmer the night before. The match was close and felt like the Hawks were gaining an edge until Timmy Woo pinned Caleb Wilbur at 132 pounds. Wilbur, who was a finalist last weekend at the Altercation, was ahead of Woo most of the match. Timmy Woo kept it close and was able to tire out Wilbur and score a pin with only seven seconds left on the clock. Homer went on to win 49-28.
The next match up was against the number one seeded Colony Knights. Colony placed fifth in the state last year for 4A. The Knights were very aggressive and utilized crisp leg attacks to take down the Mariners for much of the match. Colony, who outscored many of their opponents, beat Homer 64-9. Homer picked up wins from Jadzia Martin, 98 pounds, Jared Brant, 106, and Calvin Johnson, 113. Those three wrestlers combined for a 21 win and 1 loss record over the weekend. Brant defeated a senior, Scott Samson. The match was tied with about 30 second left and Brant let him go and trailed by one point. The decision paid off as he was able to take Samson down to his back and pick up two back points and earn a 7-3 victory.
This put the Mariners on the back side of the bracket and the next match was the second team from Colony. Homer was able to use three forfeits and a decision by Pedro Ochoa, 160, to win 45-32. Ochoa, who was wrestling Chris Ray, who placed fourth at 4A state last year, was close the whole match. Ochoa scored many takedowns, only to have Ray reverse him to his back twice. Ochoa then changed his game plan and just did takedowns and was able to score a takedown at the last second and win 12-11.
Homer then took on Seward. Jadzia Martin, who won all her matches over the weekend, had her closest bout of the day against Sully Hauze. Hauze was able to score one takedown on a failed shot attempt by Martin. Both wrestlers scored a reversal against each other and an escape. The match went into overtime, 5-5. Martin used an arm spin to score a takedown in overtime to earn the win. She has established herself as the number one ranked 98-pounder in the conference.
Dakota Alward, 152, earned a dramatic pin with only 10 seconds remaining and trailing by seven points. Matt Morris was dominating Alward for all of five minutes before Alward used an aggressive double-leg takedown to Morris’s back and held him there for the pin. Homer won 53-28 for their second dual victory in the season over Seward.
The final match of the day was against the 4A Kodiak Bears for fifth place. Wyatt Lewis, 145, a second-string for the Mariners, filled in for an injured Andrew Doughty. Lewis scored a HI-C turn the corner, but was reversed by Sean Dayton. This happened a few more times until, with less than a minute and Dayton looking visably tired, went to his back twice and Lewis scored points to tie it up at 10-10. It looked as if Lewis had scored two more near-fall points with seconds remaining before Dayton escaped the hold and earned an escape point. However, the official did not confirm the near-fall, thus Dayton winning 11-10.
Jordan Reynolds, who made 182 for the first time this season, won four matches over the weekend and pinned Jacob Quellette in the first period. The Bears were able to pick up wins in the middle weights and beat Homer 45-33.
We are happy to have wrestled seven matches and come away with minimal injuries and lot of mat time. This young squad is really making a mark on the competition. They took some licks against the solid 4A schools, but showed Homer can wrestle at the top level in the division and give Skyview a run for the conference championship.
On Tuesday, Homer played Soldotna and Skyview for its only home dual of the season. Considered a “friendly match,” no team scores were kept.
The team travels to Palmer for the biggest tournament in the state. Many of the toughest 4A and small schools will be in attendance. There also will be a JV tournament at Colony on Saturday.
Chris Perk is the head coach of Homer High School’s wrestling team.