Only one Wasilla wrestler made it to the finals of the Glenn Vandergaw Invitational at Dimond on Saturday, but the Warriors still managed to win the team title, scoring 169 points to runnerup Service's 155.
Sixteen schools competed in the tournament that many of the wrestlers use as their last chance to measure themselves against competition they might run into at regional tournaments in two weeks, or the state tournament in three weeks.
"It's the last tuneup," said Service coach Luke Duffy. "Win or lose, it's a steppingstone for state."
One match that served as a possible state-tournament preview came in the 130-pound division. Tyler Adams, Wasilla's lone finalist, pinned Service's Jacob Lunsford in 5 minutes, 58 seconds, in a match that was pivotal to the Warriors' team victory Saturday.
"I was well aware of the importance of my match," said Adams. "It pumped up my adrenaline."
Adams and Lunsford met in two prior matches this season, each winning once. Adams said he considers Lunsford his main competition for the state title.
Lunsford was awarded a penalty point early in the match, when Adams got an arm lock around his neck.
"They said I was getting too aggressive and cutting off the airways," Adams said.
Lunsford was gasping for air when the referee separated the wrestlers and he was granted a recovery period that lasted around five minutes.
When the match resumed, Adams appeared in control and eventually maneuvered for a pin with a move he called a "Saturday-night ride."
"He's a very good wrestler," he said. "It was a very good match."
Had Lunsford beat Adams, the swing in team points would have put Service's Stephen Ellis in position to win the tournament for the Cougars in the 189-pound finale, in which Ellis pinned Colony's Quace Wright in 2:56.
Several wrestlers were missing from Service's usual lineup because of injuries, Ellis said. He said everyone is focused on getting healthy for the state tournament.
"We have to keep improving," he said. "We need to wrestle to win instead of wrestling not to lose."
Wasilla head coach Shawn Hayes said the state tournament will be full of tough competition, including teams like Lathrop and North Pole, which were absent from the Dimond tournament.
"It will be different at the state tournament," he said. "Anyone could win it."
Find Jeremy Peters online at adn.com/contact/jpeters or call 257-4335.
1) Wasilla, 169.00; 2) Service, 155.00; 3) Colony, 146.00; 4) South, 138.50; 5) East, 101.00; 6) Soldotna, 72.00; 7) Houston, 68.00; 8) Eagle River, 62.50; 9) (tie) Kodiak, Chugiak, 56.00; 11) Service, 52.00; 12) Bartlett, 51.00; 13) Dillingham, 49.50; 14) Skyview, 45.00; 15) Bartlett, 20.00; 16) Kenai, 19.00; 17) South J.V., 18.00; 18) Colony J.V., 15.00; 19) Dimond, East J.V., 14.00; 21) Kotzebue, 11.00; 22) Wasilla J.V., 9.00; 23) Kotzebue J.V., 4.00; 24) Eagle River J.V., 1.00.
103 -- Kraig Hammond, South, d. Wade Booth, Colony, 11-6; 112 -- Alex Nanez, Service JV, d. Luke Foster, South, 10-8; 119 -- Jared Miller, Dillingham d. Johnny Hogenson, South, 8-5; 125 -- Conrad Lacey, Service, d. Talon Sturgill, Bartlett, 6-4; 130 -- Tyler Adams, Wasilla, p. Jacob Lunsford, Service, 5:58; 135 -- Luke Faulkner, Colony, d. Dominic Taus, Eagle River, 4-3; 140 -- Mat Malnoske, East, t.f. Branson Markson, South, 4:45; 145 -- Austin Tennis, Soldotna, d. Matt Downing, East, 14-12; 152 -- Reed Tennyson, Dillingham, d. Kyle Boss, 8-5; 160 -- Nate Wolfe, Colony, d. Josh Wiggins, East, 8-6; 171 -- John Dennehy, South, p. Aaron Reese, Houston, 1:59; 189 -- Stephen Ellis, Service, p. Quace Wright, Colony, 2:56; 215 -- Luke Wagner, Houston, p. Garrett Morrison, Chugiak, 3:02; 275 -- Caleb Green, Bartlett, p. Drew Yeager, Bartlett J.V., 4:45. Third-place matches
103 -- Nick Ottum, South J.V., p. Shannon Carpenter, Wasilla, 4:02; 112 -- Gabe Larson, Service, d. Ryker Steiner, Wasilla, 6-5; 119 -- Nate Mckimson, Wasilla, p. Doug O'Hara, Kotzebue, 2:27; 125 -- John Pounds, Service J.V., d. Jed Diederich, Wasilla, 7-6; 130 -- Jake Borrego, Eagle River, p. Taylor Hanley, Soldotna, 2:58; 135 -- Anthony Sierra, East, d. Christian Lowe, Wasilla, 8-6 OT; 140 -- Jentry Diederich, Wasilla, m.d. Nick Hoffer, East J.V., 10-1; 145 -- Daniel Murakami, Service, d. Chris Dickens, Chugiak, 3-1 OT; 152 -- Pat Mullett, Chugiak, d. Ken Banning, Service, 8-7; 160 -- Rilen Skieens, Service, d. Camden MacDowell, South, 3-1 OT; 171 -- Skye Wrench, Colony, d. Yurity Makitrin, Wasilla, 13-11; 189 -- Charlie Johnson, Kodiak, p. Dakota Elsey, Soldotna, 1:46; 215 -- Derek Zorea, Service, p. Nate Williams, Eagle River, 1:43; 275 -- Wrenn Wright, Colony, d. Ryan Pomrenke, Wasilla, 5-4.
By JEREMY PETERS