Homer Alaska - Sports

Story last updated at 6:46 PM on Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Mariner wrestlers thrive on home-field advantage

By Angelina Skowronski
For the Homer News


Photo by Angelina Skowrinski, for the Homer News

Homer Mariner D.J. Marsengill, right, wrestles Shane Blumentritt of Skyview in the Round Robin Rumble. Marsengill placed third overall in the 132-pound weight class.

Team captains and seniors Mick Wells and DJ Marsengill have seen many tournaments on their home-turf, but for several of the Mariner mat men, last weekend's Round Robin Rumble was their first rodeo in their own corral.

"We are an extremely young team, but we have a lot of dedicated and quick-learning wrestlers," said Wells of the novice fleet.

The Mariners showed their supporters blue and gold pride by winning more than 40 matches and taking fourth place overall in the Rumble they hosted. The Mariners wrestled against Skyview, Nikiski, Seward, Houston, Cordova and Voznesenka.

Head Coach Chris Perk, with 11 Mariner wrestling seasons under his belt, knew the home tournament could have gone two different ways.

"Wrestling in front of your peers and family can do two things: make you really nervous because losing in front of them is painful, or it makes you dig deep and find out who you really are," said Perk.

Led by strong performances from both upper-classmen veterans and under-classmen rookies, the Mariner mat men proved that they could dig deep by scoring 75 points overall.

"We could have scored more points by bouncing some of our wrestlers up a weight to score points, but I wanted to focus on their individual matches," said Perk.

With the support from friends and family, the team was able to take their individual matches to the next level.

Drew Raymond at 220 pounds threw a solid head and arm against Jake Rankin of Cordova, winning that match with a quick pin. Joe Resetarits at 195 pounds broke out an under arm spin to beat CJ Cyphers of Houston. Resetarits' pin helped the Mariners win 38-33 over Houston on Friday.

Wrestling in their first tourney of the season, Raymond and Resetarits were combined into one weight class due to lack of wrestlers. Resetarits beat Raymond for second place on Saturday as they both lost to the No.1-ranked Luke Wager of Houston. Both wrestlers fought tough matches against Wagner and show promise at possibly placing at State this season.

Junior Tanner Kelley at 160 pounds won an exciting match over Cody Howard of Cordova. Both wrestlers were having trouble controlling each other until Kelley finally put the smackdown on his opponent.

First-year wrestler Pedro Ochoa at 138 pounds beat veteran wrestler Jenae Shannon of Houston on Friday. Ochoa finished the weekend taking third in his weight class after losing to teammate Harley Wells in the finals.

"We're a young team in age and experience, but I've seen so much improvement over the last few weeks," said Marsengill. "If we stay at the same rate and improvement level, we can definitely make some damage at Regions."

Marsengill at 132 pounds led whistle-to-whistle and beat a tough Ryan Radmer of Houston 10-6 on Friday. A turn of events came on Saturday's match against Radmer. After Marsengill took a 6-4 lead into the third period, Radmer scored six straight points to beat the Mariner 10-6. Marsengill went on to place third in the tourney.

Sophomore Calvin Johnson at 106 pounds, ranked No. 6 in the state, picked up his team by leading his 19th win of the season. Johnson battled Skyview's Hannah Hutchinson, ranked No. 5 in the state, this weekend for the fourth time this season. Johnson was not feeling well during the match and went down in the first period.

The sickness cost him his fourth loss to Hutchinson out of his five total losses of the season.

Freshman Chris Peterson scored two takedowns in his matches, and placed sixth at 152 pounds.

Junior Mark McGregor at 152 pounds defeated both No. 6 ranked wrestler Morgan Sauve of Nikiski and No. 3 ranked Mason Kimber of Cordova on Saturday. He has 13 wins to go with his one loss and is expected to move up into the top five rankings this week.

The captains' words of encouragement are helping the wrestlers advance in the rankings.

"I'm telling my team that they must always come out knowing they did their best," said Wells.

Marsengill knows the importance of instilling the messages that wrestling is a mental game as well as a physical one.

"I tell them they have to mentally prepare for matches, and to learn how to deal with losing."

The Mariner mat men head to Nikiski this weekend for a dual-type tourney, where the teams advance based on team points. According to Perk, the Mariners are short on a few of the weight classes, so they will need to bump a few wrestlers around in order to fill weights.