Some new faces will appear in the finals of the Cook Inlet Conference wrestling tournament Saturday.
Wrestlers like West sophomore Jejomar Briones and South sophomore Andrew Concepcion were sky-high after getting wins in Friday's semifinals at Chugiak High and earning their first shot at a CIC title.
Briones gutted out a grueling match against Eagle River's Kyle Willard, taking a 15-10 decision and punching his fist into the air high above his head the moment the final whistle blew.
"It was a really tough one actually," Briones said. "I put my heart into it and I practiced all week for this."
Concepcion battled to a 12-8 decision over Service's Joshua Fetko. He led throughout most of the match but said that usually isn't the case against Fetko.
"That was actually my first time in awhile beating that kid, and it's just great beating him finally," Concepcion said.
East junior Anthony Sierra, wrestling in his first CIC meet, turned in a dominating 17-0 technical fall over West's Chris Weidner in the 138-pound division. Now he faces South junior Kraig Hammond, owner of two CIC titles in lower weight classes.
"He better watch it, 'cause I'm coming for him," Sierra said. "I'm gonna get that championship."
South leads the team standings heading into Saturday's final day of action. Consolation matches begin at 9:30 a.m. and championship matches begin at 2 p.m.
The Wolverines have 284 points to second-place Service's 227.
Two sports, one star
Football and wrestling often draw the same athletes. Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis was a two-time state high school wrestling champion in Florida long before he became a 13-time Pro Bowl linebacker.
Closer to home, there is South senior Dalton Sauder, who was named Alaska's defensive football player of the year for helping the Wolverines claim a state title in the fall. He is also the state's top-ranked wrestler at 195 pounds.
Sauder has wrestled since he was 5 and credits the sport for giving him a big edge on the football field.
"When you're trying to get a ball-carrier to the ground it's all about leverage, and in wrestling you get a much better feel for that," Sauder said. "You know how to use a person's weight against him and use that to your advantage."
South wrestling coach Tom Ritchie said football players typically make good wrestlers and help to fill in holes at some of the heavier weight classes. He made a point to recruit Sauder and a bunch of his gridiron teammates.
"I'd say we have eight to 10 (football players)," he said. "I definitely would like more. It translates really good, especially for offensive linemen, your upper-weight kids, because you learn body position, quick feet."
The focus and conditioning required for wrestling makes it the tougher of the two sports, Sauder said, but football is his favorite.
"I love the energy and enthusiasm and being able to play as a team," he said.
Chugiak wrestler gets a break
Chugiak senior Wyatt Allen didn't let a little thing like a broken foot slow him down.
Less than four weeks after breaking his foot, Allen was wrestling at the CIC championships, where he won his first match and lost his second match Friday.
Allen, who wrestles in the 285-pound weight division, said he was playing around at a church gathering when he thought he sprained his ankle.
"It's the first time I've broken a bone in my body," he said. "I tried to walk on it and there was a really bad stabbing pain. We found out I broke my fifth metatarsal and we had to go to the hospital and get a boot."
Doctors told Allen the foot would take at least six weeks to heal, meaning his wrestling season was over.
"So what does he do? He takes the crutches and throws 'em away in four days," said Mike Curry, Allen's foster father. "And then the boot goes in about a week and a half."
Allen tried to stay in shape and kept testing the foot by walking on it. Wednesday he went to his doctor to seek approval to compete this week and an X-ray showed the foot was still broken.
"The doctor grabbed hold of it, put direct pressure on the fifth metatarsal," Curry said. "Wyatt's face didn't twinge, nothing."
The doctor gave the foot a twist and a bend and then told Allen if he didn't feel any pain there was no reason he couldn't wrestle.
Allen pinned West's Nathan Sailele in Friday's opening round to advance to the quarterfinals, where he was pinned by Dimond's Cody Wadsworth.
Sailele was also dealing with an injury, wearing a brace and thick layer of tape on his left knee. After the pin, Allen helped Sailele get off the floor and to the center of the mat, where they shook hands.
Cook Inlet Conference championships
South 284.0, Service 227.0, East 189.0, Chugiak 177.5, West 128.5, Bartlett 71.5, Eagle River 56.0, Dimond 37.0
98 -- Greg Shack, South, p. Jordan Anderson, West, :20. Slava Hoffman, Service, p. Elissa Gamble, West, 1:18.
106 -- Jejomar Briones, West, d. Marcus Amico, Eagle River, 15-10; Kyle Willard, East, d. Noah Ottum, South, 9-4.
113 -- Gavin Alvarado, South, p. Slade Lindsoe, Service, 2:00; Matt Glover, South t.f. Dajan Treder, West, 16-0.
120 -- Andrew Concepcion, South d. Joshua Fetko, Service, 12-8; Rami Pellumbi, South, d. Zack Luff, Eagle River, 6-0.
126 -- Alexander Nanez, Service, d. Alex Kennedy, East, 5-1; Nick Ottum, South, p. Tyler Wintersteen, Chugiak, 3:52.
132 -- John Pounds, Service, m.d. Gavin Arnold, Eagle River, 12-4; Chase Jury, Chugiak p. Zachary Ritchie, South, 4:48.
138 -- Kraig Hammond, South, m.d. Damian Sotelo, Bartlett, 19-6; Anthony Sierra, East, t.f. Chris Weidner, West, 17-0.
145 -- Tyler Thammavongsa, Service, p. Cory Florence, Eagle River, 3:17; Colt Jury, Chugiak d. Geno Giordano, South, 7-2.
152 -- Xavier Horton, Eagle River d. Robert Huffer, Chugiak, 7-6; Cesar Gusman, East, d. Nathan Hakala, South, 3-2.
160 -- Rilen Skieens, Service, p. Gabe Mcsharry, South, 3:01; Karson Forbush, Chugiak, m.d. Jean Paul Sosa, East, 10-2.