The Wasilla Warriors had a lot of wrestlers out with injuries and a lot of wrestlers that didn't make it out of the regional tournament, but at the end of the first day of the Class 4A state wrestling championships at Bartlett High, they calculated they could still win a team title.
"The kids knew they'd have to wrestle tough to be in it," coach Shawn Hayes said Saturday, "and at the end of the day (Friday), we were only 91/2 points behind, we were still in it."
The Warriors earned their first state championship since 2011 and their fifth in history by beating defending champion South by 20 points.
Although the Wolverines fared better than Wasilla in Saturday evening's finals -- South won three individual titles, Wasilla one -- the Warriors got the job done in consolation-bracket action earlier in the day.
"Today, the kids just wrestled so well," Hayes said. "It was the consolation finals that got it for us. We'd figured out what we need to win it, and they were fired up. Every time they won, we were tallying as we went. Everyone just did such a good job, and I'm so proud."
Heading into the finals, Wasilla had 227.5 points and South had 198. Even if all of four of South's wrestlers in the finals won, the Warriors would have still taken home the win.
"Everyone contributed this weekend," Hayes said. "It was a total team effort, and that's so promising."
The Warriors are a young bunch, he said. "That's making everyone really excited for the future, too."
Nate McKimson was Wasilla's lone individual champion, winning at 152 pounds.
For South, Greg Shack (106 pounds), Rami Pellumbi (132) and Kraig Hammond (138) captured titles.
East, which finished sixth in the team standings, was 3 for 3 in the finals, and senior Anthony Sierra claimed the Most Outstanding Wrestler award.
Sierra capped an undefeated season by winning the 145-pound title, pinning Kenai's Ellery Steffensen after trailing early.
"I trained hard all year, and it paid off," Sierra said. We've done a lot of mental training in practice, and it worked and paid off for me during my final match."
Here's a recap of Saturday's championship finals:
98 -- Colony's Bryce Adams scored a commanding 8-2 decision over Dimond's Scott Harris. Adams, a sophomore, was supported by a ground of Colony students who painted their chests to spell out #1 BIRD DOG! CHS.
106 -- South's Greg Shack is already halfway to his goal of being a four-time state champion. With a pin over Wasilla's Brandon Abbott, the sophomore secured his second state championship. Shack made his move at the end of the first round, picking up four points in less than 40 seconds to soar to a 6-1 lead. He was up 8-1 when he got the pin.
113 -- South's Matt Glover led 5-3 before he went down with a left lower leg injury, leaving Kodiak junior Joel Valdez the state champion. With less than 1:40 left in the second round, Glover went down. He tried to continue after the timeout but was unable to put much weight on the leg, which already had a brace on at the knee.
120 -- East's Brennan Girard controlled the majority of his match against Kodiak's Andrew Caballa. Girard, a senior, took the 10-3 decision after a four-point first round, a two-point second round and another four points in the third round.
126 -- It was a Northern Lights Conference battle, and Kenai freshman Paul Steffensen stormed out of the gate on his way to a pin in the third round over Kodiak junior Jay-Ar Small. Steffensen was up 14-4 at the time of the pin, which came with 22 seconds remaining in the match.
132 -- South sophomore Rami Pellumbi upset Service junior Josh Fetko, taking a 6-5 decision. Pellumbi went up 4-1 after being awarded two points at the end of the second round, a call that made Service coaches and fans unhappy. After the officials deliberated and met with coaches, Fetko was also awarded two points, trimming Pellumbi's lead to 4-3 going into the third round. With 1:45 remaining, Fetko knotted things 4-4, but with 45 seconds left, Pellumbi scored two points for the win.
138 -- Kraig Hammond wrapped up his inspirational senior season, pinning Eagle River sophomore Gavin Arnold with 14 seconds left. Hammond, whose life was jeopardize last summer by a staph infection, held a commanding lead throughout and nearly pinned Arnold in the first. He was up 17-3 at the time of his pin.
145 -- East's Anthony Sierra pinned Kenai's Ellery Steffensen with just 11 seconds left to wrap up his undefeated senior season. Steffensen jumped to a 4-3 lead in the second round, but with under a minute to go Sierra jumped in front and was leading 5-4 at the time of his pin.
152 -- Wasilla senior Nate McKimson and Chugiak senior Robert Huffer wrestled each other three times this season, and each time McKimson came out on top. The championship match was no different. McKimson pinned Huffer with 25 seconds remaining after scoring five points in each of the first two rounds.
160 -- Lathrop senior Joe Dickinson nearly pinned Service senior Tyler Thammavongsa in the first and second rounds, and although Thammavongsa was able to avoid the pins, he couldn't avoid Dickinson's quick feet and strength. Dickinson won 8-4 decision to become the meet's lone champion from the Mid Alaska Conference.
170 -- East's Cezar Guzman, trailing 3-2, came on strong near the end of the second round and dominated the rest of the way to edge Eagle River's Xavier Horton 5-3. Guzman held Horton scoreless in the third round.
182 -- West's Leroy Elliot continued his stellar senior year with a 3-2 decision over Lathrop's Jacob Wharton. Wharton led 1-0 at the end of the second round, but Elliott tied it, using quick hands and several nifty flip moves. With 40 seconds left, he secured his win, scoring two points. Elliott helped lead West to the state football championship last fall.
195 -- Palmer's Caleb Deemer and Kodiak's Kerry Powers wrestled to a scoreless stalemate after two rounds. Twenty seconds into the final round, the first and only points of the match were scored by Powers, who took a 1-0 decision.
220 -- Quace Wright of Wasilla and Ben Button of Palmer fought to a 4-4 tie through three rounds and two overtime periods. In the second overtime, Wright slipped away from Button with 20 seconds for a 5-4 lead, but Button managed two points in the final 12 seconds to secure the 6-5 decision in the third overtime to pull off the upset of Wright, the top seed out of the Northern Lights Conference.
285 -- North Pole's Ben Davis upset Kodiak's Leo Sega 3-2 in a sudden-death overtime victory that was neck-and-neck from the start. With 50 seconds left in the second round, Davis scored one point and held the 1-0 lead until Sega managed to wriggle free from Davis' grip to score an escape at the buzzer. Davis scored a point in the second round of overtime, and Sega, despite the chants of "Ben" ringing throughout the gym, scored a point with three seconds left. With 10 seconds left on the fourth round of overtime, which is decided in a sudden death scenario, Davis used quick feet to elude Sega, securing his 3-2 win.
ASAA/First National Bank
Class 4A state wrestling championships
1) Wasilla 233.5, 2) South 213.5, 3) Colony 181,4) Kodiak 158, 5) North Pole 119.5, 6) East 118, 7) Palmer 116.5, 8) Lathrop 107, 9) Service 98, 10) West 93, 11) Kenai 92.5, 12) Eagle River 73, 13) Chugiak 51.5, 14) Ketchikan 49, 15) Dimond 38, 16) West Valley 37, 17) Bartlett 34.5, 18) Thunder Mountain 13, 19) Juneau 11, 20) Soldotna 4.
98 -- Dillon Simpson (Was) t.f. Val Shuman (West), 31-10. 106 --Berit Sturgeon (Was) p. Yuto Ohki (Kod), 4:52). 113 -- Chace Booth (Col) m.d. Weston Martin (Sou), 9-0. 120 -- Andrew Hendrix (Lath) p. Marcus Martin (Ket), 4:58. 126 -- Gavin Alvarado (Sou) d. Aaron Molesky (Pal), 3-2. 132 -- Mason Cochran (Pal) t.f. Dew Rogers (NP), 5:00. 138 -- Robert Haan (Col) md. Conal Eager (Lath), 9-1. 145 -- Nick Ottum (Sou) t.f. Joe Fricilone (WV), 4:03. 152 -- Kamber Lucas (Col) d. Wade Booth (Col), 8-5). 160 -- DJ Morrow (Was) d. David Best (NP), 8-2). 170 -- Emetrius McLeod (Ser) p. Chance Boatman (Was), 2:52. 182 -- Riley Fredrickson (Col) d. Kyle Hunter (Ken), 6-4. 195 -- Ed Hall (ER) p. Josh Miller (WV), 2:17. 220 -- Zech Rockstad (Was) m.d. Lui Fa'amasino (West), 12-4. 285 -- Brian Thompson (Pal) d. Keanu King (East), 10-5.
98 -- Oscar Garcia (Bar) p. Bruce Hill (Was), :48. 106 -- Zx Dio Abobon (Bar), bye. 113 -- Slava Hoffman (Ser) m.d. Trevor Wutzke (Ket), 10-0. 120 -- Noah Ottum (Sou) d. Bryan McKimson (Was), 3-1. 126 -- Andrew Concepcion (Sou) d. Samuel Wolff (Was), 9-7. 132 -- Dawson Nash (Col) d. Aaron Rohr (Kod), 10-3. 138 -- Dustin Holta (Chu) d. Westen Wall (Was), 6-4. 145 -- Spencer Adams (Col) m.d. Cameron Eide (NP), 10-2. 152 -- David Jutila (NP) d. Joshua Noe (Sou), 9-5. 160 -- Gabe Mcsharry (Sou) d. Hunter Molesky (Pal), 4-1. 170 -- Jack Dickinson (Lath) won by injury default over Josh Yavorsky (Kod). 182 -- Abraham Falegoatai (West) d. Nate Fousel (Ket), 8-4. 195 -- Billy Schultz (Was) m.d. Robert Williams (Ket), 12-0. 220 -- Ian MacKenzie (Col) won by forfeit over Richard Burroughs (Chu). 285 -- Nicholas Stevens (Ser) won by injury default over Mitchell Daigle (Col).