Homer’s Popeye Wrestlers opened their season with a quality performance, with eighth-grader Teddy Croft being named the Tanana Champion.
Croft, wrestling at 125 pounds, has built a solid wrestling resume, triple crown winner two years ago, two-time borough champion, and two-time Tanana place-winner. This is all before he begins what could be an exciting high school experience.
Add a Tanana Championship (the unofficial state tournament for grades 6, 7 and 8) hosted at Tanana Middle School in Fairbanks, to the list.
Croft won all five matches last weekend, without being scored upon. His leg attacks were unanswered by any of his opponents. His first three matches ended with pins all in the first period. He then technical falled Joe Perkins from Grace Christian School and then had a injury default victory in the finals against Kyle Kokrine from North Pole. Kokrine broke his collar bone in the match before when his opponent slammed him to the mat.
Croft is the first wrestler from the southern Kenai Peninsula to win the Tanana Tournament.
Teammate Tristan Cook, an eighth grader wrestling at 140 pounds, won four matches in dominating form. He pinned his way to the finals where he lost to Derrick Knoblock from Anchorage. Cook took fourth last year.
Popeye took nine wrestlers to Fairbanks and placed ninth out of 32 teams, scoring 95.5 points.
Luciano Fasulo a seventh grader from Chapman opened the tournament with a loss to the eventual Champion Levi Farris from Palmer, whose team won the tournament scoring more than 300 points. Fasulo then won five matches in a row to reach the placing rounds. He then lost one and beat Dawson Daniels from Schoenbar Middle School 8-1, for a fifth-place finish.
Eighth-grader Kyle Wells, wretling at 132 pounds and also from Chapman, placed seventh overall, winning four matches.
Six girls from Popeye traveled to Anchorage to participate in the All Alaska Girls Wrestling Championships hosted at West High School.
Seventh-grader Allison Wells, wrestling at 100 pounds, won all three of her matches in route to a first-place finish.
Finishing fourth in the same bracket was Mina Cavasos, a sixth grader, who was the lightest and youngest in the tournament.
Jadzia Martin and Diana Gaedecke, both ninth graders, placed third and fourth respectively in the 112-pound weight class. Martin was giving up at least 10 pounds in her bracket.
Heather Harrington a ninth-grader placed second in the open weight class that featured her mom, Erica, and Sarah Wise from West. Both Harringtons lost to Wise. Heather then placed second by pinning her mom.
Thirty-one other Popeye Wrestlers competed in the Soldotna Whaler Free-style Tournament.
The team placed fifth out of 14 teams. Fifteen of the wrestlers placed in the top three.
First place finishes were won by Miles Tressler in the Pre-Bantam (5-6 year old) 40-pound weight class, Austin Shafford Novice (11-12) 85 pounds, Ian Stovall Schoolboy (13-14) 85 pounds and Jared Brant Cadet (15-16) 115 pounds.
Second place finishes were won by Joshua Bradshaw Novice 80 pounds, Martin Welty Cadet 100 pounds, Ravi Cavasos Cadet 130 pounds, Austin McGregor Junior (17-18) 150 pounds and Channing Grillo Open (18 +) 160 pounds.
This weekend the team will combine and head to Seward for another Freestyle Tournament.