By CRAIG GIAMMONA
Courtesy Daily Sitka Sentinel
The Mt. Edgecumbe Braves took the team title at the Bill Weiss Invitational wrestling tournament in Ketchikan Nov. 12, scoring 212 points on the strength of five individual titles to beat Craig, Kayhi, Sitka and Wrangell.
Edgecumbe had eight wrestlers in the finals, and 12 of the 14 Braves competing at the tournament placed in the top four. The Braves dominated the heavier weight classes at the regional event, winning individual titles at 170, 182, 195, 220 and 285. Three other Edgecumbe wrestlers took second, and four more were fourth in their respective weight classes.
As the 2011 season winds down, with the Region V tournament now just over two weeks away, the Braves are emerging as the top team in Southeast. Craig was second Saturday with 141.5 points, Kayhi was third with 130.5, Sitka was fourth at 107 and Wrangell rounded out the top five with 106 points. Thunder Mountain (58), Thorne Bay (43), Petersburg (36.5), Hydaburg (24), Metlakatla (21), Haines (19.5), Yakutat (14) and Juneau (13) completed the field in Ketchikan Saturday at what was the biggest event in the region so far this season.
“The margin of victory was huge, but at the regional tournament it’s not going to be that way,” Kimber said, adding that he’s working to get his team prepared for the mental challenge of wrestling at home.
The Region V tournament opens Dec. 2 at B.J. McGillis Gymnasium and Kimber said it will be a different experience for the Braves, who have not hosted a tournament in a few years. “They’re not used to the distractions at home,” Kimber said. “Buddies. Dorm stuff. Girlfriends and boyfriends. When we go away on a trip we’re together and we can focus on wrestling, when you’re here it’s easy to get distracted.”
Kimber said he was pleased with how the Braves wrestled. Edgecumbe had five champions: Michael Matthew (170), Shyler Johnson (182), Gusty Akelkok (195), Paul Johanson (220) and Jaylin Prince (285). MEHS had three other wrestlers make the finals. Melissa Fisher lost 15-0 in the 113-pound championship to Craig’s Tanner Thain, the 103-pound state champ last year, and Daniel Villasenor took second for the Braves, falling 11-1 to Sitka’s Will Patrick in the 132-pound final. Franklin Hoogendorn, wrestling at 145 for Edgecumbe, was pinned in the finals by Tanner Thomassen of Wrangell.
Also placing for MEHS were: Moses Jackson (4th, 106), Kory Joe (4th, 126), Kenny Jackson (4th, 138) and Carlton Hautala (4th, 160).