Story last updated at 2:37 p.m. Thursday, December 12, 2002

Small schools to hit mats
by Sepp Jannotta
Staff Writer

When the 1A-2A-3A State Wrestling Tournament gets under way on Friday, Homer High School will have the privilege of playing host to what is likely the most widely dispersed field of high school wrestlers to compete in a U.S. state tournament.

The center of the state's wrestling universe for a weekend, the Homer gym will bustle with the nervous energy and intensity of 224 wrestlers competing for 47 different teams from villages scattered from Southeast to the North Slope. As always, Alaska's small schools wrestling tournament will have a decidedly village feel as the diverse collection of teams offers an unparalleled chance to bone up on Alaska geography.

More than 1,000 miles separates Barrow and the tiny Prince of Wales Island village of Hydaburg. Hydaburg is closer to Seattle than it is to Anchorage, while Barrow sits on the edge of the Beaufort Sea and is the northernmost town in the U.S.

Among the Kenai Peninsula schools, Seldovia, Ninilchik, Nikiski and Seward all will send wrestlers to the mats.

Alaska's return this year to large-schools, small-schools classifications in wrestling means that the state's small schools title will rest with a new school this year. Last year's fall season champion, Skyview, is wrestling in the class 4A season along with Homer and the rest of Region III.

Wrestling gets under way at 9 a.m. on Friday, while the championship matches will be held Saturday, beginning at 10 a.m.