High School Sports

Grace Christian wrestling tournament is back, with a nod to last year’s earthquake

A year after the 2018 meet was reduced in size and scope by Anchorage’s 7.1-magnitude earthquake, an all-division wrestling tournament returns to Grace Christian High School this week.

More than 400 wrestlers from across Alaska are scheduled to compete in the fourth annual tournament, which has a new name.

Once known as the Grace Grizzly Grappler, the tournament is now the Grizzly Shakedown — a nod to last year’s earthquake-induced tournament shakeup.

“Just as we were completing weigh-ins, we had the earthquake,” Grace Christian wrestling coach Ben DeVries said Thursday, prior to the seeding meeting for this weekend’s meet.

A scaled-down tournament was held in the aftermath of the quake — more than half of the 450 wrestlers left Anchorage, Friday matches were called off and the entire tournament took place Saturday.

As Grace Christian officials made plans for this year’s tournament, “We said, you know, we should rename this tournament,” DeVries said.

And so it became the Grizzly Shakedown. Last year’s scare hasn’t impacted participation — 428 boys and girls are competing.

Competition will be held on three mats beginning at 9 a.m. Friday and Saturday, with Division I and Division II athletes wrestling head-to-head. Saturday’s finals should start around 7 p.m., DeVries said.

The tournament is the last big regular-season competition of the season. Region tournaments will be held next week —Anchorage’s Cook Inlet Conference championships are at South High — and the state tournament is Dec. 20-21 at the Alaska Airlines Center.

For the eight CIC teams, this week is a busy one. Before heading to the Grace Christian meet, teams will compete in the final dual meets of the season.

Chugiak and Eagle River wrestled to a 30-30 tie Wednesday night in their rivalry match, with Chugiak taking possession of the Rumble Cup because it won eight matches to Eagle River’s six. The rest of the CIC dual-meet finales were scheduled for Thursday night.