Story last updated at 1:52 p.m. Thursday, May 9, 2002

ASAA changes wrestling picture
by Sepp Jannotta
Staff Writer

The Alaska School Activities Association voted last week to once again change the landscape of the state's high school wrestling system.

The association has returned to the large- and small-school classifications following a two-year experiment that discarded the usual size classifications and allowed schools of any size to opt for a fall or a spring wrestling season.

Alaska high school wrestling will once again break down with a 4A tournament for the state's largest schools and a 1-2-3A tournament for the smaller schools.

The small-schools season will run from mid-September to mid-December, overlapping with the large-schools season, set to run mid-October through February. The mid-October start date will allow more athletes to have true transition period after their football or cross country seasons.

The new system means the rebirth of the Region III conference wrestling season and tournament, which is a big plus in the eyes of Homer High School wrestling coach Chris Perk.

"We're really stoked to bring that back to life because it's always been one of the best tournaments around," he said.

The 4A Mariners will still have the chance to wrestle many of the small schools on the Kenai Peninsula during the overlap period. That's another bonus, Perk said.

The downside is an increase in expensive travel as the Mariners will regularly compete with teams in Anchorage, Mat-Su and Fairbanks. The 4A state tournament is slated for Fairbanks.

But, with ASAA's decision to hold the 1-2-3A state wrestling tournament in the Mariners' gym, the school will be able to recoup some of its travel expenses, Perk said.

The tournament, scheduled for Dec. 13-14, will bring 224 of Alaska's best wrestlers to town, plus 200 or more coaches, family and other fans, Perk estimated.