by Tommy Wells
Kelly O’Brien is going to get a chance to wrestle for her third girls’ state wrestling championship in four years.
The Bethel Regional High School senior highlighted a large contingent of female wrestlers from the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta to turn in impressive outings this past weekend at the 2017 Great Alaska Conference Wrestling Championships. In all, 13 area girls – including O’Brien and five of her BRHS teammates – will be competing in the 2017 DI/DII Girls State Wrestling Championships on Dec. 15-16 in Anchorage.
O’Brien clinched her fourth straight trip to the state tournament by easily winning the Great Alaska Conference’s 145-pound championship for a second straight year. She pinned Scammon Bay star Sabrina Rivers at the 1:31 mark of the finals to finish off a 2-0 outing.
With the win, O’Brien ran her season record to 22-2.
By winning, O’Brien sets up a potential rematch with Homer’s McKenzie Cook for the state title. Cook edged out O’Brien for the title last year. O’Brien previously won state titles in the 120-pound classification in 2015 and the 132-pound division in 2015.
Nunapitchuk’s Chantel Tobeluk claimed the runner-up honors in the 145-pound division.
Lindsey Beans-Polk and Dellarae Charlie also collected Great Alaska Conference titles during the tournament, which was held in the WarriorDome. Beans-Polk, now 19-9 overall, outwrestled Nunapitchuk’s Nikki Nick in the title round of the 132-pound class.
Nick came back in her ensuing match to best Kuskokwim Learning Academy’s Sophie Nicholai to earn the second-place mark.
Charlie and teammate Kelsi Madson gave Bethel a pair of state qualifiers in the 106-pound division by grinding out a 1-2 finish. Charlie earned the conference title with a win over Madson in the title match. Madson nailed down the GAC runner-up berth with a win over Scammon’s Leah Amukon in the second-place contest.
Jaron Mute and Rae Charlie also starred for BRHS. Mute was second to Napaskiak’s Kelly Paul in the 120-pound standings. Charlie was the runner-up to Scammon Bay’s Rita Uttereyuk in the 113-pound standings.
Scammon Bay, which had a total of four wrestlers earn berths in the state meet, collected a 1-2 finish from Anecia Rivers and Justina Wilson in the 160-pound ranks.
Pilot Station’s Katie Polty won the girls 220-pound title.
Only the top two finishers in each weight classification advance to the state tournament.