by Tommy Wells
In the end, even Mother Nature couldn’t stop the Bethel Regional Junior High School wrestling team from owning the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta’s bragging rights. It only delayed the inevitable by a week.
Bethel, backed by 10 gold-medal performances, rolled to the rescheduled Glady Jung Elementary/Junior High Invitational title on Saturday at the home of the Cranes. BRJHS had 19 wrestlers place in the top six in their respective weight classes and rolled up a staggering 345 points in the tournament. In all, Bethel edged out more than 20 other teams for the top spot. Gladys Jung finished second in the standings with 245.
Larry Bayer and Peter Crow were among 10 Bethel grapplers to claim first-place marks in the tournament. Bayer won the boys’ 175-pound title by edging out Emmonak’s Kusmak Tuday in the standings. St. Mary’s Connor Journey finished third. Crow claimed the 126-pound championship by holding off teammate Jaymes Martins.
Tyler Laraux and Kristofer Kupanoak also claimed golds. Laraux outwrestled Chevak’s Joseph Johnson by a 7-0 score to win the 112-pound crown. Kupanoak edged out St. Mary’s Dawson Joe for the top spot in the 119-pound class. BRJHS’ Jeremiah Jerry was third in the division following a win over Hooper Bay’s Eddie Pingayak.
Mason Fitka and Joseph Smith added to the Warriors’ medal count with outstanding performances in their weight classifications. Fitka netted the 105-pound championship by grinding out a 9-2 victory over Palmer’s Levonta’e Brown in the title round. Gladys Jung’s Ellis Johnson was third – one of five GJE grapplers to earn bronze medals.
Hannah Howell, Cameron McCarr, Maya Komulainen Isabel Lieb all won bronze medals along with Johnson for the Cranes.
Smith won the 98-pound title with an 18-3 victory over Scammon Bay’s Stewie Kaganak.
Kaganak and teammate Ranen Uttereyuk finished second and third, respectively, in the 98-pound standings and played a key role in the Eagles’ ability to finish third in the overall standings.
Landon Smith won the 91-pound title for Bethel. He edged out GJE’s Aaron Mute for the top spot.
Ryan Chaney gave Bethel its eighth boys’ title by claiming the first-place honors in the 77-pound division. He won the title with an impressive 11-2 victory over Palmer’s Brayden Ellibee in the finals.
Fiona Phelan and Tomasina Nicolia rounded out Bethel’s gold-medal list by claiming wins in the girls’ division. Phelan captured the 110-pound title. She eked out a tough 4-2 win over Emmonak’s Harri Westlock in the finals.
Nicolai won the 140-pound championship with a victory over Scammon’s Seeya Rivers.
Like Bethel, Gladys Jung also garnered plenty of first-place marks in the tournament, which had been pushed back a week due to inclement weather last weekend.
Vjosa Pellumbi gave GJE a win in the girls’ 70-pound classification. She outwrestled Napakiak’s Breana Nelson by an 8-2 score to claim the title.
Paul Dyment, Alvino Vasquez and Julian Sebastian also garnered first-place marks in the boys’ division. Dyment claimed a tough 13-8 win over Bethel’s Axel Madson to win the 84-pound crown, while Vasquez claimed a win over Teammate Sheldon Smith to net the 70-pound honors. Sebastian defeated Halle Littlefish in the finals of the 65-pound bracket.
Kalskag’s Elizabeth Wooten and Mika Levi gave their team plenty of reason to smile. Wooten took first in the girls’ 80-pound division by downing GJE’s Jerralyn White at the 1:53 mark of their championship match. Levi took the girls’ 100-pound title with a win over Scammon Bay’s April Uttereyuk.
Scammon Bay, which has 12 wrestlers place in the top six in their weight classes, picked up a gold from Adam Rivers in the 133-pound division. He won the title with a victory over Bethel’s Charles Smith.
St. Mary’s Peyton Albert and Chevak’s Maysa Brown also earned first-place finished. Albert took the 200-pound title, while Brown worked her way to a thrilling 7-0 overtime win over Bethel’s Anna Avalos to claim the girls’ 120-pound honors.
The team from Napakiak also did well. They won four bronze medals, a silver, two fourth place finishes, a one fifth.
Gladys Jung Wrestling Tournament Final standings
1. Bethel 343; 2. Gladys Jung 245; 3. Scammon Bay 192; 4. Palmer 138.5; 5. St. Mary’s 108; 6. Napakiak 105; 7. Kalskag 91; 8. Emmonak 87.5; 9. Chevak 68.5; 10. Alakanuk 60; 11. Hooper Bay 44; 12. Kotlik 44; 13. Mountain Village 44; 14. Nunam Iqua 34; 15. Pilot Station 32; 16. Marshall 31; 17. Chefornak 0; 18. Kwethluk 0; 19. Napaskiak 0; 20. Nunapitchuk 0; Quinhagak 0.